I have family and friends who love to garden, get their hands in the dirt and bring color and beauty to their yards. Worms and bugs? No digging in the dirt for me!

Our mother had a little corner garden in back of the house. She’d plant tomatoes, peppers, some parsley and basil—there wasn’t any room for more. Mom would go out each morning and check on her “garden patch.” I remember her big smile when she brought in the “first tomato of the season.” She remarked that the time she spent in her garden was not only rewarding but calmed the spirit.

Along the walk leading to the back door was a bumper crop of mint, which Mom carefully tended—during the hot and humid days of summer, the smell of mint wafted through the kitchen windows. I can picture her lemonade in a frosty glass pitcher with mint leaves adding color and zest. 

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My sister-in-law, Patti, is a gardener extraordinaire. Her California garden is fenced off and she grows all kinds of vegetables; there are planters in different shapes filled with magnificent flowers of all kinds and colors on the patio. Brother Jack put in an irrigation system—definitely needed when the temps reach three digits. Patti is in her own world when she tends to her garden; there are several busy bird feeders—she has nature’s background music. The fruits (and vegetables) of her labor appear on the dinner table nightly. By the way, the sign on the garden gate: “Garden of Eaten.”

My venture into the gardening world is very simple: flower boxes and some individual pots on the deck; I make a wish list and head off to the garden center. I do get satisfaction as I fill the boxes with geraniums and marigolds (wearing garden gloves, of course) and place the flower pots where I can appreciate them from the living room window—I’ve accomplished a pleasant and rewarding task. Bonnie usually keeps me company—she does make me nervous when she jumps up on the railing as the deck is 11 feet above ground. She soon wears out her welcome when she begins nibbling the zinnia leaves.

On a beautiful summer evening last week, I brought my iced tea out to the deck, and sat with my feet up. It was quiet and I could smell the grass which had been cut that day and I was surrounded by “my garden.” My thoughts drifted: how our world was in turmoil; what was ahead for me in the medical scheme of things; how happy I was to enjoy my birthday with all my guys together; how my garden was colorful and healthy, and other random thoughts. Then, like a soft blanket over my shoulders, I felt calm and serene: Yes, these peaceful thoughts from the deck were not just for me, they belonged to all who bring their much-needed beauty to this world.

P.S. You all know how much I love hugs! A few weeks ago in The Family Circus cartoon in the local paper, the little girl made this declaration: “God invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.” Amen to that!

Ruthann can be reached at grandmopps@aol.com.