Nature Connection: Learning Patience From A Seed

By: Mary Richmond

Mary Richmond Photo

Like many others I’ve been doing a lot of planting this spring. I’ve always had gardens but to be honest, they’ve been as full of weeds as anything else because I just haven’t had the time or energy to maintain them. That and the fact that I not so secretly love the butter ‘n eggs, chicory and Queen Anne’s lace that all think they own the place. Throw in some red clover, thistle, evening primrose, dock and pokeberry and well, you can see the zinnias and other flowers have a lot to compete with at my place. Throw in my laziness and you can guess who has been winning.

This spring I had more time, so I started to play in the gardens. I still have areas where the wild things can go crazy and flourish, but I also cleared out other spots where the lilies were being suffocated and the bee balm had gotten lost. As I do each spring, I also planted a lot of seeds, both inside and out.

Perhaps, like me, you grow tomatoes, lettuce, basil, zinnias, marigolds from seed indoors and plant morning glories, nasturtiums, sunflowers and cosmos outdoors when the weather warms.

If I’ve learned anything over the last few months it may be a little more patience. This particular virtue has never been my strong suit, but I’ve been working on it. Watching seeds grow has been a good way to practice the lesson.

There’s a daisy patch that has been in bud for weeks, or so it seems. They have just started to unfurl and bloom, and it has been through watching the buds slowly unwind that I’ve begun to slow my breath and appreciate their pace. Other daisies bloomed way ahead of them, but they didn’t care. They were on their own time, in their own place, and they’d bloom when they were ready. I made sure they were watered, watched the bees float around checking on their availability and took note of each unfolding petal.

The tomato plants are flowering and even setting fruit. The lettuce and Swiss chard are abundant and delicious. The peas are coming along, and the basil has already offered up enough leaves for some amazing pesto. Sunflowers, morning glories and cosmos are steadily growing, and the wild patches of chicory and Queen Anne’s lace are thriving.

As I check the progress of the plants daily, and even several times a day, I also take note of the insects and birds. Baby orioles are clamoring at the orange feeder and song sparrows are enjoying the bird bath. A rascally rabbit hasn’t breached my fences yet, but can be seen chewing not so daintily on the clover I’ve left it while watching me watch it.

Time seems to have changed these last few months. It hasn’t, of course. We are the ones who have changed. Our focus of what we thought of as normal was interrupted and slammed to the ground as we struggled to adjust to this new world we found ourselves in, a world we neither expected nor wanted. Our familiar routines were disrupted, and time seemed to stand still.

Once I settled into my new daily chores I found I was enjoying this slower, quieter pace. I missed my family, friends and coworkers but we kept in touch by text, email and Facetime. I had long conversations with friends far away and elderly neighbors closer by. I had the time to watch the seeds push their way through the dirt and reach for the light. I spent a good part of one afternoon watching a female oriole weave her nest, one strand of grass at a time.

A seed is a humbling thing to watch and contemplate. Its whole future is within it and yet it is in no hurry to find out what that future will be. It simply grows one day at a time, one or two leaves at a time. It flowers, sets fruit, vegetable, nut or berry and luxuriates in the summer warmth, wanting for little more than some rain and good earth to spread its roots in.

It takes the oriole many days to build her nest. After she lays eggs, she sits inside and waits. Once the eggs hatch she and her mate become feeding machines and protectors. They must balance bringing in food with the watchfulness that nearby crows, grackles and hawks necessitate. All will gladly partake of eggs or baby orioles, but adult orioles hold firm against as many attacks as they can.

There’s a certain acceptance and perseverance in nature that I’ve always known was there, but recently I’ve slowed down enough to really understand we all have these same strengths within us. Like seeds, they need to be watered and fed, given sunshine and room to grow. Like the daisy, we will bloom when we are ready. Like the oriole, we can weave many strands to try and make a meaningful, beautiful life. All it takes is a little — maybe a lot — of patience.