Digging in the garden

by Mary Ann McGivern

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Luckily, one of gardening tasks I thoroughly enjoy is digging. I’m on a mission to rid our yard of trumpet vine, a pretty flower that attracts hummingbirds -- which is why it was allowed to establish itself -- but with an invidious root system that runs like underground pipes, sending up shoots alongside ours and our neighbor’s garages for 20 feet. And then there are the seedlings that were mowed down for years but sent their roots underneath the peonies and into the garden beds.

Really, the ways of the trumpet vine when I’m out uprooting it engage me totally. I had hip surgery last summer and couldn’t garden, but the summer before I’d dug up the vines alongside the next door garage, and this morning I went after them again. It was an easier task this time, but I still didn’t get all the roots. I’ll keep watch for shoots. Now I’m sitting, clean and comfortable of mind and body. The work edged all the distractions from my mind. I’m ready to start fresh.

I appreciate the monastic practice of manual labor to balance the work of singing the Divine Office. They both demand concentration on the task at hand. They drive out distraction, leaving the person spent and renewed at the same moment. I don’t have a job singing, but I do have writing to do and phone calls to make. Later I’ll make rhubarb pie, a fruit of my labor, and gaze at the lilies in front. I planted those bulbs years ago, and every day they bloom fills me with delight. (In the fall I will have to dig deep to thin them out and that will be its own pleasure.)

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