I have recently become convinced that much like beauty, Eden lies in the eyes of the beholder.
Ordinarily, and forgivably, when we hear the words: “Eden,” “Paradisical,” or “Edenic” we conjure a Garden of Eden, a human home place of splendor and awe.
I sat out on our patio the other day and looked at my back yard. It most resembles a disobedient adolescent in sore need of a haircut. Due to a subterranean rock formation, rain water tends to gather in the underground of the lawn. That moisture gives rise to such a variety and profusion of vegetation, it would take a seasoned horticulturalist to identify them all.
No sense debating it, that patch of ground is shaggy. It is choked with diverse grasses, plantain, clovers and other growths of taxonomic uncertainty, perhaps as yet uncharted by science.
So where does Eden fit in? To the rabbits and groundhogs who come to graze, that land is positively scriptural, smorgasbordal; thus we don’t mow it too often; thus its unkemptness.
But it must also be confessed: there is a magic which there abides . . . Not the abracadabra kind of magic – rather, it’s regenerative, a magic of renewal and I don’t mean merely the predictable growth of vegetation.
Perhaps a decade has passed, and quite possibly more, my Sabrina and I planted Bradford Pear saplings, four of them, around the back yard. Bradfords are a fast-growing tree with a spacious, dense-packed canopy, yet, owing to a shallow root system, they are not strong enough to support their exuberant growth against wind-assault.
One of them grew to the point it touched our house threatening the siding and had to come down. In due course, only a stump remained. Then, amazingly, out of that stump, a frond began to grow, and grow and grow until it was nine feet tall and looked very much like the saplings we had originally planted. That tree wanted to live!
As luck would have it, a Derecho came through the following year and took out the three remaining Bradfords.
One of them fell upon – and crushed – the sapling mentioned above.
We had a stump removal service come to us, and he chewed up all four stumps so that only their mulch remained. Even so, several months later, we noted, from the original location where the first growth had occurred from the stump, yet another sapling began its slow straining towards the heavens, as if refusing to be vanquished.
Beyond even that, there is, in the yard, another form of mystery, maybe it’s something in the earth: some alchemy of discovery. Many years ago, I sadly crafted a small coffin to hold the body of one of our beloved cats. We buried her, said a prayer, and planted a lily at the gravesite near our small pond. A year or two later, we could no longer see the lily which had undoubtedly been choked out by other flowers and weeds which grew there in such a chaotic abundance.
Sabrina asked me to thin out the growths the other day. I took the job on with great
care since much of my trimming seems to make victims of desirable plants. In my
youth, now many years gone, I felt that the word ‘trim’ was a synonym for Blizkreig.
As I carefully nipped and cut, I had the most pleasant surprise: The lily was still
there! Alive, fragrant and fully grown despite the fact that its neighbors had denied
it sunshine. But, incontestably, there it was, Sabrina’s and my tribute to our little
pet buddy lost all those years ago.
Our back yard… Edenic; depending on who’s looking at it.