Today I looked through a book about gardening with children; as I leafed through the pages, up popped bits of memories of my child playing in the backyard. It occurred to me how much I miss having her around the garden. Seeing it through my child’s eyes gave it a magical touch. Simple things brought her pleasure; for example, when she went down a short little path made of concrete rounds, she made a giggly game of hopping from one round to the next.
She loved helping me plant seeds. I gave her big seeds, such as peas and nasturtiums, so her little fingers could easily hold them. She plopped each one into the small holes we poked into the soil with a stick. Then she would water them with her child-size watering can. When she helped me water, she sometimes asked how much longer until she could eat the vegetables or pick the flowers. I miss seeing the surprise in her eyes when the baby plants poked through the soil.
She didn’t care what the flowers were; if they were pretty and she could pick them, she adored them. Once I photographed her amid acres and acres of tulip fields in the Skagit Valley of Washington State. I instructed her not to pick the tulips, so she reached down on the side of the road where we had parked, picked a dandelion, and carried it around. In the photo, she stands by rows of red tulips as she holds a bright yellow dandelion beneath her nose. For her, the weed flower was just as magical as the fields surrounding her, and probably more so because she could hold this one in her tiny hands.
With all the empty, open pea pods scattered around her play area, I could imagine the pod people had invaded earth and snatched many unsuspecting bodies. But it was from my daughter. She grazed in the garden, picking every pod she could reach and discarding the empty shells. I planted two pea patches for her and another one I hoped she wouldn’t find. I wanted to eat fresh peas too!
I will purchase that book, even though my child is grown. I want to remember the simple pleasures of my garden; when I forget, I will pick up the book and look through the pages that remind me to see with child-like eyes. I wish to experience a simple pleasure in picking a handful of pea pods, opening them up so I can suck out all the little peas, and scattering the empties wherever I may be. I’ll hop down a pretentious flagstone path, laughing at the complete joy each jump brings. What great practice when I am blessed with grandchildren — viewing the world through the eyes of a child and the vision belongs to me.
Originally posted on rainyside.com January 8, 2008.