Spring Garden Glory

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the Women’s Connection brunch here in Bismarck. I was filling in for another speaker. With one day to prepare, I used material from my book of essays, Grace Like Snow and a couple unpublished stories. The title of my presentation was “Nurturing the Garden of Your Soul.” I talked about finding peace, hope and grace in a garden setting.

This Saturday I’ll do a similar talk at the Bismarck Garden Expo. The other speakers are horticulturalists and master gardeners. They grow vast gardens and know the Latin names of thousands of plants. Me? Not so much. We have one tiny garden, five rose bushes—assuming they all come up, and a dozen flowerpots.

Still, I offered to do a seminar on Garden Glory and they accepted. On Saturday I’ll click through my PowerPoint presentation and attempt to inspire the audience with family gardening stories.

The Women’s Connection and the Bismarck Garden Expo are happy occasions, compared to one we attended in our hometown on Easter Saturday. That day a “Celebration of Life” was held for my first cousin, Judy. The day was bittersweet. We did celebrate the life of this wonderful woman, even though our hearts were breaking.

Judy will forever be linked to my book Secrets of the Dark Closet, because she owned the house that held the Dark Closet. She also hosted a two-day book signing party for me when the book was published, for which I am indebted.

I’m writing about these three unconnected events, because one person ties them together for me. That’s my grandmother, Bessie. At Women’s Connection, I told of growing up with Judy and my other cousins. We loved to run around Grandma’s big yard and pick leaves from her mint plants. Mint has become a symbol of hope to me.

At the Garden Expo, I will tell about the mint, but also about the rich heritage of gardening that was passed down through Grandma Bessie and her mother.

Today would have been Bessie’s birthday. She was born on April 17, 1888. Although she died when I was seventeen, decades later I think about her every day.

Bessie’s influence was not in what she said, but who she was. I write about her many gardens. I write about her cheerful attitude and grandmotherly ways. It was because of these things that I ended up writing a book about the secrets from her childhood and how she overcame so much.

In our fast-paced era it’s hard to see the influence we might have on future generations, but Grandma Bessie’s example endures.

I’ll close by sharing the last paragraph of my Garden Expo talk, which I hope gives food for thought:

“Methinks that peace might reign in the world if we all tended gardens. To delight in overnight garden miracles, to bless one another with flowers and vegetables, to trade gardening tips for the new growing season. These things are real and close to the earth. They ground us in the goodness and glory of God.”

So Happy Birthday, Bessie! And Happy Spring to all of my readers! Please make time to discover the garden glory of new plants raising their heads to the spring sunshine.