As an “urban gardener” I find myself thinking about spring planting rituals.  I read that most professional farmers have one ritual and as far as rituals go it is probably as boring as a ritual can get.  The one based on the lunar cycle.  Simply put, farmers know to sow seeds of plants that produce above the ground when the moon is increasing (between the New Moon and the Full Moon) and to sow seeds of plants that produce below ground when the moon is decreasing (between the Full Moon and the New Moon).  After that it can get pretty wild…with rituals being named for specific plants, like…the Tulip Bulb Ritual, The Corn or Bean Dance, Mayan Sunrise Corn Planting Ceremony or the mundane like Mars Magic Money Ritual or the Rituals of Child Sacrifice in the Hopi Kachina!

There is one spring ritual that will probably never…never, ever…grow old.  Planting flowers with “mom.”  Many pleasant images and sweet memories get stirred up when we think about digging flowers with our moms.  I can remember “helping” my mom plant irises and poppies when I was a kid.  They were her favorites then and she loves them still to this day.  There was also something called the “Trumpet Flower” and the usual assortment of pansies, marigolds, roses and wildflowers. 

As kids, my brothers and I, well, we were pretty hard on Mom’s flowers.  It was always easier, in our minds, to cut them down and not cut around them.  Plus, we “illegally” played baseball, football and sometimes hockey in the yard too. Talk about risks and challenges!   If the flowers/plants were in the field of play, well, they became bases or yard markers…always part of the action.  Looking back, I bet she would consider it a good year if anything managed to bloom or survive a sports season.  And believe it or not…they always did!  But not because of us…in spite of us, I am sure.  Those were “mama’s flowers” and you better not “mess” with them.  She could quote a scripture blessing her for punishing the individual(s) responsible for damaging one of her babies…”God was on her side”…the Lord will forgive me…she believed it and she made you believe (fear) it too!

Now that my mom has gotten older there’s not too much she can do out in the yard that doesn’t tire her.  So she looks out at the yard and you sense what is running through her mind….“if she had her way!”  A younger sister is now in charge of the flowers at our childhood home.  Her tastes are very broad…like going from Norman Rockwell to Salvador Dali in one pan of the camera!  She once told me that one person’s weed is another person’s flower and when I look at her garden, I believe it.  Besides the standard flower garden entrees she has managed to have an eclectic mix of plants and flowers, including a variety of Daylilies, Dahlias, Lemon-scented Geraniums, Gerber Daisies and some big thing called Clematis. When she talks about it you will hear favorable comparisons to the Matthaei Botanical Garden, but on a smaller scale, of course.

A couple of years ago, we planted a Pink Lilac Bush for my mom.  It is placed so that she can see it easily from her bedroom window (the former pitcher’s mound).  She fusses and worries a bit over this little bush like she used to back in the day.  You would have to call it “mothering”.  “Don’t cut too close…it needs air…space so that it can grow.”  There is something underwhelmingly significant and symbolic about the springtime rituals our mom’s share with their plants.  For my mom, it might be that the bush represents not just another year, but…another re-birth.   I’m sure that most of us have a “mom and her plant” story.  There are probably just as many dad stories too.  I have a few that fall in the category of “boys will be boys”, that I would love to share (and maybe I will some day), but right now I have a lot of seeds that I must sort through.  I do need to be ready for the next “new” moon.

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