The golden zucchini was starting to bear fruit. I was on a hunt for pale plants that would set off the kind of dill that invited itself into the garden this spring, and that hunt was making me pay more attention to the weeds around my neighborhood. The tomatoes were still small and green but looking promising.
And then I had to leave.
But it was a great year for me to be at the Vermont College MFA in children’s literature residency…among other reasons because this graduating class named itself after one of the books I most loved reading to my daughter, The Secret Garden.
Honestly, although I said a few weeks ago I felt like one of the girls from the Little House books when I was gardening this spring, I should have said I had entered the world of the secret garden. Overgrown. Rocky. Bare patches of dirt. A whole lot of ugliness.
But like Mary and the other kids who poke and pull and dig and coax the plants in that book, I found the gloriousness of watching the green flourish against the dirt. Sometimes it bursts and explodes everywhere if it only has a chance. Sometimes it creeps.
I like this patch I found in one part of the dirt, though, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to encourage it. I also planted Scotch Moss and Irish Moss. Just before I left for Vermont I got nervous because I started to read about mosses and thought, at first, I’d put those two plants in a way too sunny place. Then I discovered they aren’t true moss.
As I was gathering the seeds for my lecture, I read this: “I remember hearing an interview on NPR with some pianist, who played some little bit of some piano solo, and the interviewer commented, ‘I’d give anything to play like that!’ In response, the pianist asked, ‘Would you practice for 10 hours a day for 20 years?’”
Secret gardeners do the work.