Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 08:51:19 -0400 (EDT)
Random Thought: I Look At the Garden, and I See the Classoom

I was meandering among the flowers in my garden, a steaming freshly brewed cup of coffee in hand, as the day's first light shown upon them, enjoying our high 70s "wintery morning cold snap," chatting with an alluring Miss Muffet caladium, greeting a graceful Snow Lady Daisy, bowing to a dazzling Ruffled Apricot day lilly, curtseying before a radiant White Swan corn flower, winking at a Persian Strobe plant, enjoying the pinks of a dinner plate hibiscus, greeting a beautiful dandelion. It was an especially enjoyable and exciting wandering this morning. The flowers looks especially radiant. The bumble bees looked especially bouncy. I had just finished power walking a pre-dawn mile! It was achy, but it was a good ache, a revitalizing ache. I haven't been a street walker for six months. Three weeks ago my doctor and especially my angelic Susan gave their permission for me to test out my reconstructed toe. First, the agony and ecstacy of a 1/4 mile for a week, then the ache and ectasy of a the next, then the heaving lungs and extasy of a 3/4 the third. Two days on, one day rest. Now, I've reached the threshold of a mile. Though I've got five more miles and the entire summer to go, each step has been like a spiritual mint, cleansing and refreshing and shaprening the tastebuds in my soul.

Like my walks in the dawning street, I drift among the flowers in the garden each morning with true excitement, with an intimidating but challenging uncertainty of not knowing what's going on and what I am going to see and what's going to happen. I engage them with the heightened excitement of letting the flowers tell me where to go and what to do, seeing the power, depth and radiance in each plant. The garden is an oasis of change and growth. Each day the garden is full of energy. There is photosynthesis going on, movement is all about, visible and hidden life teems everywhere. Each plant and each day has its joys. Each day I look at and walk among something beautiful.

I look at the garden, and I see the classroom

I don't object to anything in the garden as long as it shows a flower. Some would call a few the plants weeds, but if it flowers, it justifies itself. If something comes up unexpectedly, I let it alone. I don't pull it out and shout, "You don't belong here. I don't want you here."

I look at the garden, and I see the classroom.

In my garden there are lots of hidden spots and gathering of seculded color than can be missed if you don't look carefully and see.. Some plants require more effort than others. Some are less hardy than others. Whether in shade or full sun, whether in sandy soil or clay, whether in acidic or alkaline soil, whether towering or small, whether robust or tender, whether secreted or in full view, I accept each flower for what it is with joy and acclamation. None is ignoble; none is inconsequential.

I look at the garden, and I see the classroom.

I garden with a responsibility and a dependability. I am involved with the flowers and I tell them that "I'll not neglect you. I'll not take you for granted. I'll be there. Give you my word."

I look at the garden, and I see the classroom.

I think I am something of an accomplished gardener although I am forever learning by practicing, reading, questioning, experimetning, watching, stretching. I have become a successful gardener by learning each plant, not as a specie, but individually. As a gardener looking at the dazzling array before me, I must see each flower of the same specie in a different way on each different day as the soil, weather, and light conditions vary. I must see each flower in the different way as the light of day and seasons change, as the shadows move and the colors dance different steps. Only in this way can I keep my gardening alive, intense, challenging, exuberant, exhilarating, expressive, bold as a stick of exploding dynamite, sensitive and caring as a soft caress. And only in this way can gardening be a the sowing of seed, the nurturing of growth, and a climatic time of bountiful harvest of creativity and accomplishment. It takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of patience. It takes a lot of care, but it's all rewarding.

I look at the garden, and I see the classroom.

My approach is not formal or structured. It's not engineered and controlled. It's imaginative, creative, experiential, unexpected. I like everything to be mysterious, emerging, spontaneous, and surprising. No plant in my garden is perfect. I don't know of any that is. I garden with hope: seeing each plant with the eyes of my heart; smelling the fragrance each plant's soul; tending each plant today with a faith in tomorrow. Hope iself is like a plant: I plant it, weed around it, tend it, and it will provide a good yield. I garden with high expectations, with an unswerving belief in myself and a belief in the beauty of each plant. Sometimes I talk to the plants saying, "You can grow and be successful." Sometimes a simple plant like a dandelion that others derisively call, "weed," needs a voice to champion it and to allow it to champion itself. In fact, I garden with friendship, a friendship that builds bridges between me and the plants without which I would have a bias, prejudices, preconceptions in favor of some and against others, without which I could not transcend individual differences among the flowers, without which I could not garden for all plants.

I look at the garden, and I see the classroom.

Once a flower, grabs your heart and soul, it doesn't let go. You don't let go.

I look at the garden, and I see the classroom

Make it a good day. 

                                                       --Louis--


Louis Schmier                     lschmier@valdosta.edu
Department of History             http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/louis.html 
Valdosta State University
Valdosta, GA  31698                        /~\    /\ /\
912-333-5947                       /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
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                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
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