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From the Garden Bench

Flashback: June 2004

I find my favorite
garden bench in the shade,
sit back, open a book
and get lost in its pages.

In Summertime, living is easy. The gardens are all weeded, the plants well-tended, and spent flowers deadheaded. It is time to relax and enjoy the planted space. I find my favorite garden bench in the shade, sit back, open a book and get lost in its pages.

Time for a reality check! I sit down on my favorite garden bench and plan on reading a book, but then I spy the watering can that whispers to me, “Psst, those newly planted shrubs need watering.” I notice the seed heads of plants that need removal. On further inspection, I noticed some prickly weeds that escaped my attention until now, growing in between the plants. The weed flowers are ready to burst open, and if I wait, soon the weed will send its seeds parachuting into the wind and the rest of the garden.

So I put away my book, change my clothes, get out my garden tools and proceed to snip, pull, prune and rake everything I see from my perch. I know I will not enjoy relaxing on that bench until the garden surrounding me looks pristine.

At last, I complete the work. I shower, put on clean clothes, grab my book and head out into the garden. Once again, I sit down on my favorite bench, ready to open my book to read, when suddenly two hummingbirds dart quickly by my head. Both birds ignore me; one intends to protect its territory, and the other invades it. As one gives up and flies away with a buzz, I watch the victorious one land on the bird feeder, taking a victory drink. Then just as quickly, he darts over and lands on a thin branch.

The tiny bird perches and watches, waiting for the next interloper that dares invade this little one’s space. When the invader arrives on the scene, it’s back to the two buzzing and chasing each other until one gives up and flies away.

The victorious one passes in front of me and hovers for a moment to check me out and see if I am a creature of concern. Then just as quickly, the little one flies back to his perch, deciding I am not worth the extra energy chasing away.

I watch the bees fly from flower to flower in search of sweet nectar. They are so intent on their tasks that they ignore me as I stare into their world, observing what it is like to be a bee.

Suddenly, a white spider jumps out between the petals of a flower and grabs a bee, quickly giving it a bite. The spider’s venom works fast; the bee stops struggling. The spider holds its meal motionless and then consumes its freshly caught meat.

From my bench, I watch the endless stories in the garden. A bee murdered before my very eyes, the war of the hummingbirds, the tenderness of a papa swallowtail feeding his brood, all in a day’s adventure in the garden. I put down my book, knowing it would not be as fascinating as what happened right in front of me. Tragedy, mayhem, and love stories are part of the ongoing saga.

When I finish my chores, all I need to do is take a seat, relax and observe the drama unfolding in the kingdom of the garden.

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