I wanted to share with you one of our patio garden plants today and share a little inspiration that it has taught me. Last Easter, the Bunny brought The Bug some small garden kits to plant seeds for daisies, poppies, strawberries and basil.
We planted the seeds with great hopes and rested them in the nicely sunny, but not too hot kitchen window. Within a few days tiny shoots began to break through the miniature soil beds. They were so fragile with stems less than a millimeter in diameter.
We carefully watered them and each day they would look a little bigger. But they were very slow in growing. For many weeks we tended them and it seemed that they would never be strong enough to be planted outside. One day the strawberry plant was knocked off the window ledge and spilled soil everywhere. Despite our best repotting efforts we could not save it.
A few days later the tender shoots of the poppy plant began to wither and soon died. In a pot only 1 1/2 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches tall with such tiny shoots there was little we could do to care for these plants other than water them and watch how much or how little sun they were getting.
At the end of June we had to go out of town for a week. By that time I was not sure any of these plants were going to amount to much. Knowing we would be gone for a week, I didn't have much faith that either of the two left would survive. The tender shoots were still much smaller than I would've expected and I could not imagine that they would survive a transplant or move outdoors.
I cut a small slits in the bottom of both tiny pots and placed them in the sink with a small amount of water hoping this would keep them alive until our return. After what turned out to be 10 days away, we returned to the basil plant as our soul survivor.
Weeks later the basil plant had not grown. It was still four very petite, long skinny seedlings. It was if it had produced all it would. Finally out of desperation and tired of looking at these stagnant stems over four months in the window sill above the sink, I decided that we had nothing to lose to try to plant them outside. If they were going to die they were going to die. But at least if we tried to put them outside we could know for sure if anything was going to come of these four, tiny, spindly shoots.
I planted them in a large pot. I watered them a bit, and put the planter in a partially sunny spot on the patio. Having a very hot summer, I was sure that in full sun they would be baked in a day. I checked on them later and they looked more sickly and hopeless. But at least I felt I'd done all I could do for them. What they became now was entirely up to them as long as I continued to give them TLC.
I continued my death watch. At one point I was sure we were just a day away from completely wilt and collapse. To my great surprise, after a couple of days in their new luxurious quarters with the ocean breeze blowing on them, they began to grow. Every time I looked out the window the plant were visibly taller. We watched in awe as the little basil shoots grew inches every day, stronger, thicker and heartier.
That was about eight weeks ago and now this large basil bush on our patio has to be trimmed back every couple of days. It is easily two feet high and two feet wide. My contribution to this massive growth has been only watering and a little fertilizer offered a couple of times - and regular trimming back to keep it full, healthy and free of flowering.
Our little window gardening experience and our now large basil plant have reminded me of a few great life lessons that are always worth revisiting. First, weak things can become strong things. Continued effort can make things that seem impossible very possible and in fact our strongest abilities. Second, sometimes all that is needed for growth is a new, seemingly too large and challenging environment. This can be scary in life, but it's amazing how we grow to fill our capacity when we have the opportunity or are pushed as may at times be the case.
Third, change can be good, even when it seems like it will be too much for us to survive. I've found too much truth at times in the quote from Nietzsche that says, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." But I think we all learn in life that what we think might kill us rarely does. Rather we learn that things we need do we are able to do if we know we must.
Fourth, it may be that at times we have to take steps that do not seem like they will matter much in order to see small things flourish and become all they can be. In some situations what seems like the end is really only the beginning of great things to come.
Fifth, we often have no idea what it is that will take off in our lives and become something big and glorious. We may have handfuls of sprout-worthy opportunities but it may surprise us which become the great and sturdy successes and which just fall away.
It astounds me every time I look out the window at this basil plant that something we planted and tended and later had no hope for has become something so large and bountiful. I am continually reminded that we never know what will come of the little seeds we plant throughout our lives.
When I see our basil plant each day, I am reminded that the fruits of my labors may not be evident immediately and at times I may lose hope but it's impossible to know what great things there are to come from our small and continued daily efforts towards our goals, dreams and what challenges life may bring us.
So now is my time to continue making daily efforts towards my goals with faith that good things are coming, that my determination and hard work will pay off and that there are always happy surprises in life. As I look over the past 11 months of Now Is My Time, I am excited to imagine that my diligence and determination will continue over time to pay great rewards.