As my Spring Break ends, my nails are ragged and unkempt, but my stress level is pleasantly low. I’ve spent the days of my vacation communing with Nature via my yard-digging in the dirt. At night I read far too late, knowing I could sleep in the next morning if I chose. Usually though I rose around 7 a.m. for coffee and the news. As the coffee perked, I fed the cats. One morning I discovered that we’re also feeding a blue jay with that same cat food. I’ve seen it several times this week. The bird stands on the railing as its beady eyes carefully survey the surroundings. If no cat is in view, it settles down to eat its fill of dry cat food. Tasty stuff, apparently!
By 8 o’clock I was usually in the yard. We moved some roses from one place to another, which required some serious digging. Those roses had been in the same spot for many years. Stuart worked with a shovel to free them from the old bed, but Larry had already tilled the new one. Down on my hands and knees, I did a little digging with the trowel, down where I could smell the good clean earth and take my gloves off to run my fingers through it. I applied the fertilizer and patted the roses into their new home. Gloves are such an encumbrance. I think I worked as much without them as I did wearing them. When fatigue overcame me, I sprawled in the hammock and gazed up into the oak trees above me. Again discoveries inundated me.
A wonderful fragrance was teasing my nose as I lay there. Honeysuckle? I already knew that some grew out there. Looking more closely, I discovered the jasmine. I searched the uppermost branches with my eyes and found that the jasmine has climbed all the way to the top of one of the oak trees. I never knew, or maybe it just reached the top this year, but I can’t think of many things that smell better than Confederate Jasmine. I’ve enjoyed it all week. As a matter of fact, my whole yard smells like jasmine, and about the time it stops blooming, the gardenias will start—another wonderful scent. I never forget to smell the roses either.
I hope that my American literature students remember that the Transcendentalists believed in communing with Nature to heal the soul. While I was practicing the philosophy, I hope they were at least remembering it. We do have End-of-Course Tests next week, and it might behoove them to try to remember what we’ve learned this semester. Never mind. I’ll worry about that tomorrow. After all, tonight I’m still on vacation.
The gardening bug has bitten Larry, too, and he’s been toiling in the garden. I can nearly taste fresh squash and tomatoes. It won’t be long at the rate they’re growing. By the time school’s out, we should have some vegetables-a new job for us. I can hardly wait for fried green tomatoes. Real gratification comes when you fill the larder with your own vegetables, frozen or canned for the winter-yellow squash and green beans, bright red tomatoes sitting next to the peas with plenty of snaps. Those are real fruits of your labor.
My ragged nails don’t really bother me much. I’ve never been one to purchase manicures, so my hands will soon recover from all this manual labor. Grading papers isn’t quite so rough on the nails, but it’s harder on the brain and the stress level. Tomorrow I’ll reluctantly go off to school to meet my reluctant students, but when we get there, we’ll settle in and take care of finishing this school year. We have miles to go before we sleep. When afternoons come though, if you look for me, you’ll find me in the garden if I’m not too tired. If I’m not there, look for me in the hammock. I’ll be sniffing the jasmine.