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Finding Victory In The Soil

Maybe it was the smell of the freshly turned earth or the warm feel of the garden soil running through my fingers. Whatever it was, I was smiling at the idea of creating something beautiful within the confines of my flower garden.

Just days earlier, I wasn’t sure spring would ever really get here. The past year of the pandemic changed everything I knew. Now I was looking forward to digging in the earth and bringing about some normalcy to our lives through a garden.

Was the ground ever going to warm up enough to push seeds into the earth and bring about a return for my effort? When the trees began to fill out and the rose bushes developed hundreds of buds, I had hope. Then Mother’s Day came and went with a shiver, and my hopes were dashed again.

However, this past week was as if nature said, “Enough. It’s time!” The sun has been shining enough to reach for the sunblock while tinkering about outside. The grass was growing lush and green requiring a weekly trim.

The once bleak view of naked woodlands has been replaced with trees sporting full heads of leaves that once again rustle in the breeze and welcome the birds of the air to build their nests. One energetic bird has returned to build a nest in the top of our propane tank. We deal with it, graciously leaving it in place until all have fled the nest.

The hummingbirds have returned to the feeder, and the woodpeckers are busy attracting mates as they tap out their mating calls. A new visitor — a Baltimore oriole — is enjoying our new grape jelly feeder. We are back to watching the birds entertain us with their aerial antics.

A quick trip to Lowe’s and Klug’s Greenhouse in Mount Olivet was about to bring a sense of renewal. With several tomato plants and a variety of garden flowers in tow, I was ready. Dusting off the garden spade, I plotted the flower garden with all the excitement of a child with a new box of 64 Crayons. I laid the various flowers on top of the soil and was about to dig in when 8-year-old Emily and her dog Major appeared.

Soon Emily was helping me dig the holes while we bribed Major with doggie treats to keep him out of our way. Once all the plants were tucked safely in the ground, we prepared to insert sunflower seeds in a nearby patch of soil.

We surround this patch of sunflower seeds with fencing to keep marauding deer from munching on the plants as they grow.

We finished our gardening work with a spray of water from the long dormant garden hose. Everything in the garden appeared to glisten as water droplets coated the leaves, mimicking happy tears.

I know the history behind the Victory Gardens during World War II, yet I feel that this year’s gardens represent victories of a different sort. While there was loss — much like that of the war — the pandemic has and will be beaten. We can and will find something to make us smile. I challenge you to find it in the face of a blooming petunia or in the voice of a grateful bird singing on a nearby tree branch. Just find it.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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