A garden is not just its flowers, shrubs and trees; it is also butterflies, birds, bees and bugs. If I stand still long enough, I try to consider the interrelatedness that is inherent among the visitors to Merlin’s Garden. They are abundant no doubt. What is their role in the scheme of things? And what do they teach me about life?
As I stand in the warmth of a strong Santa Ana wind and watch as it combs its way through the greenery of our garden, I feel a wonder I often forget is available to me and the questions I ask only seem to make way for more questions. I sigh. The rustle of the wind is like a soft embrace. Perhaps the role of a butterfly is merely to enchant, I think, as it flutters by almost dancing on the wind. I see a pair of gold finches feasting on a dandelion and feel a laugh escape my lips. A praying mantis leaps past me as I cast water on a plant where it had found rest. Sorry, fella. I turn surprised as a hummingbird sounds by my ear. We look at each other, startled. I wonder why I would jump so at its presence. It is a small thing compared to me.
I remember being on a beach long ago in the Northwest. A nearby oil spill caused devastation for wild life. My then husband Bob and I were walking along the shore and came upon a bird covered in oil. We thought briefly what we were going to do, but then almost without thought, we took a towel and picked up the bird and drove it to a rehabilitation center nearby. The bird was obviously so much in distress that it didn’t mind our action. It was my first real hands-on encounter with wildlife. It was also at a time of deep despair for me for I knew my marriage to Bob was failing and irreparable. In different times I might have taken the easier road and let nature take its course. But then again perhaps nature took its course with me that day. I could have acted differently, but I didn’t. I wasn’t able to. Saving that bird was in a way saving myself.
As I walk in the garden, my deepest wish is to create sanctuary. It is not a simple desire, but rather more complex. It is like that day on the beach where I had no other choice. It has something to do with me and something to do with what is around me. I feel I have been given this little piece of earth as an opportunity to create a haven not just for myself but for the life that enters its boundaries. We are all connected in some way. How we are I am not sure. I seem to see the answer in the garden, but it has a quality I cannot specifically define. In fact, its lack of definability is part of the mystery. All I know is that I don’t want to be startled or afraid. Not of myself. Not of the hummingbird. Just as I would like to feel comfort in my own skin, I would also like to look into the eyes of the hummingbird and see a true friend and to have it know the same in me.