Well here I am.
I am stuck in the middle.
The middle of Lent.
And I am waiting.
And I am tired of it.
And I am tired of thinking about it.
And I am tired of writing about it.
Is it Easter yet?
Last week I tried to force Easter to come early. And there for about a minute I thought I had succeeded. It was a fun weekend, filled with friends and family and celebrations.
So I broke Lent and ate dessert to celebrate.
I ate homemade spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting with wild abandon. I recklessly dipped my fingers into the frosting bowl and licked my fingers clean. I ate two Little Debbie snacks. I may have had a piece or two of dark chocolate.
Then Monday came and as soon as my alarm went off at 5:30 am, I realized with frightening frankness, that Easter was still not here.
It was still Lent, and I had barely reached the midway point, my weekend debauchery notwithstanding.
And I knew. I knew then and there that I was tired of Lent. And that there was no way out but through the middle.
So here I am. In the middle.
And the only thing I could think to do was to go visit Miss Fern.
I live in the South, therefore every woman over the age of 65 is Miss First Name So and So regardless of status. Miss Fern is no exception to this rule. She is 83.
Miss Fern, a widow, lives in a little house on top of a little mountain in the middle of Arkansas. And she has the most beautiful, winding, lush, secret garden I have ever seen. Miss Fern knows each and every inch of that garden – and there is probably over a mile of it wound all over the top of that mountain – like the back of her hand.
Only recently has she begun to let her sixty-something year-old son mow in between her patches and circles, along her paths and trails. Only now is he old enough to be trusted with this task, that up until recently Miss Fern handled herself.
Miss Fern leaves a pair of shears on her front steps so that anyone who stops by can help themselves to whatever it is they might fancy from her gardens. I had stopped by that day to get some spring branches, thinking Fern was at lunch with her girlfriends.
But she pulled up right behind me, hopped out of the car and took the shears from me, guiding me with her storytelling as we wove in and out, across and through all the wandering paths she has created over the last thirty-five years.
I followed and she talked, snipped, and talked – sharing with me the names of each and every flower. Names like Flowering Quince. Forsythia. Winter Honeysuckle. Names that all sound like heroines from Southern Gothic novels.
As we walked, she handed me branch after branch, stem after stem, until my hands were so full that I could not hold another blade of grass.
Before I leave she walks me over to see one “last little thing.”
Which turns out to be a 50ft tall oak tree that she grew from an acorn she picked up off the ground.
Later at home, I separate several of the branches from the fragrant bouquet fit for a bride that currently sits on my dining room table. I set them apart, because I want to see something small becoming something new. Because I need to know if I can grow something of my own.
I place the cuttings in individual mason jars, filled with fresh clean water.
I make fabric labels for the jars from fabric scraps, attaching them with masking tape on the back.
I name them Joy, Hope, Grace, and Peace, and set them up high in a well shaded windowsill where the tender buds can soak up little bits of sun (but not too much) without being knocked around by my rowdy bunch.
I set them there in the evening light, and now I will wait.
To see what blooms.
To see if resurrection will come at last.
Try This At Home
Frayed Fabric Labels for Jars
The fabric labels for these cutting jars hold two purposes – the first is to look cute and the second is to protect the new roots from harsh ultraviolet rays. Starting cuttings in clear jars is great because you can check the progress of the roots easily.
How to choose cuttings:
Select medium-sized branches with a good amount of buds. Look for ones with buds that are beginning to open. Cut branches on the diagonal and “bruise” the cut ends. Crush the stem ends with a small hammer; they’ll soak up the water faster.
Set the branches in warm water for a few hours. Continue to keep in a cool place (out of direct heavy sunlight) and mist frequently. Make sure to change the water every few days or so.
How to make jar labels:
Supplies – Letter stamps, Ink, Thin Cotton Fabric, Mason Jars, Washi Tape
Step 1: Rip thin cotton fabric into 3” x 10” strips (1 per jar.)
Step 2: Lay each strip flat, then using a stamp-ink pad and individual letter stamps, spell out one word for each jar.
Step 3: Wrap the jars (mason, jelly, olive, relish … any kind of well cleaned and rinsed glass jar will do) tightly with fabric labels, making sure to center the words at the front of the jar. Secure the back of each label where the fabric overlaps using masking or washi tape.
Step4: Fill jars halfway with warm water and a tsp of fertilizer, and add one prepared cutting to each jar.
And remember, perfection is not key. Authenticity and enjoyment are. It is okay if your ink bleeds or your letters are uneven.
What in your life are you trying to “force” into happening?
What sort of resurrection has bloomed in your life after a season of waiting?