Gifts of figs and flowers

Those of you who have followed this blog since the beginning may remember how much I love figs. They were the subject of my very first post.

While it wasn’t anywhere near fig season when I wrote that original post, we’re right smack in the middle of it now. I pass by a laden fig tree every morning when I’m out walking the dog and have to fight the urge to pick a fig or two as I go by.

So when a friend of mine emailed me last week to ask if I’d like some figs from her tree, I responded with an enthusiastic yes (and probably a “Yippee!” in my head). She delivered them a few days later on her way to work.


A friend’s gift of figs

I was touched by the fact that she had even thought of me for the figs (instead of not thinking of me at all or instead of offering something I don’t love, like zucchini, for instance). Perhaps she remembered me talking about how much I like them? Whatever the reason, I am grateful she thought of me and even took the time to deliver them to my house.


I had fun photographing them in the morning light, but it was hard to resist eating them before I was done snapping pictures.

Her simple act of kindness and friendship fueled me and fed me. And it made me wonder whether we take time often enough to look around at the simple abundances in our own lives and, instead of letting those gifts go to waste, think, “Who would enjoy this as a gift?”

Garden gifts
My mom always shared what she grew in the garden – including zucchini (which my brother and I wish she had shared all of instead of keeping any for us. Oh, the zucchini trauma stories we could tell).

She made the most beautiful bouquets of flowers to take to people and would even send bouquets of gardenias in to work with me because she knew I loved them so much. She doesn’t garden as much as she used to, but the flowers still bloom and create a beautiful space surrounding my parents’ house, and I like to think of her garden as a gift to her neighbors.

She has rubbed off on me that way. I try to plant flowers each year that will give me enough to share with others. And I save more random glass jars than most people, so that I can always have a “vase” handy.

However, there are still seasons of the gardening year that I haven’t quite figured out, and I hate those times when I want to bring someone flowers and head outside to find that nothing terribly pretty is blooming.

My mother-in-law loves gardening and giving flowers, too. She often sends me flowers for special occasions, and this is what arrived at my doorstep from her a few weeks ago:


A beautiful gift of orchids

She knows I struggle with orchids (I do much better with outdoor plants that have a better chance of surviving my bouts of neglect), but she promised these are easy to care for. I really do hope I can keep the plant alive and blooming.

I love the way the afternoon light filters through the orchid’s petals.


For those of you who garden, do you share what you grow? Do others share with you? Do you think it strengthens friendships to offer homegrown gifts or even store-bought gifts of fruit or flowers? For those of you who don’t garden, I’d love to hear what simple gifts you share with your friends. What ways do you share the crop of kindness and abundance from your own life with others?

Oh, and to my friends who live nearby (you know who you are), it’s baby lacebark elm tree season at my house. Let me know if you’d like one of the elms for your own yard. They’re a gift I’d love to share with you.

The purpose that prevails

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

What did you want to be when you were little? If you’re like me, you daydreamed about becoming lots of different things. I made two paintings in elementary school two years apart that showed what I wanted to be when I grew up: an artist the first year, a teacher the second. Every year, sometimes every day, I thought up new things I wanted to be when I was older.


My elementary school idea of what I’d grow up to be, complete with a change in eye color and a floating body (notice that my shoes aren’t attached to the rest of me).

It seems like even now I never stop dreaming about what direction my life will go next, but I have to remember not to get too carried away with myself. Proverbs 19:21 speaks to these plans in my heart, with a beautiful reminder that I’m not ultimately in charge (whew! that’s a relief).

With hindsight, there are plenty of times in my life that I’m grateful for God saying no, because He had something even better in mind for me. But I wasn’t very thankful when I was living in those moments. His “No” seemed difficult and even bewildering.

But now that I have seen bewilderment turn into blessing, I need to keep a firm grasp on the truth of Proverbs 19:21 as I work to fulfill the hopes and dreams and plans I have for my future. Continue reading

Spring hopes

For those of you who have been wondering if I’ve been neglecting my garden during the early spring with all the running my husband and I have been doing, you’re right. I have neglected my garden, and as a result, the chipmunks are winning a battle I didn’t realize we were already fighting this season.

When my husband and I came home from an out-of-town trip early this week, he went outside and stayed outside for a looooong time. When he came inside, he was steaming mad. Why? A beautiful camellia had tipped over, its roots eaten/disturbed by chipmunks tunneling around everywhere.

After several years of barely blooming, that particular camellia bloomed more abundantly this year, and a few weeks back, I took some photos of it:

A beautiful young camellia just weeks ago

A beautiful young camellia just weeks ago

I’m glad now that I photographed it when I did, because it may not survive the chipmunk wars to bloom another season. Its lovely blooms stayed well past a typical camellia season, probably because we’ve had a mostly chilly spring so far.


A showy bloom from the camellia

My husband propped the camellia back up, and he filled in around it with dirt and my usual arsenal against varmints: permatill (tiny rocks that act as a soil conditioner and supposedly also as a deterrent to burrowing rodents like chipmunks); holy moley (mole repellent that apparently does not repel chipmunks); more dirt and new mulch; and holly tone (fertilizer to strengthen the camellia).

We have hope that our efforts will save the camellia, but it has already shed several yellow leaves, and the rest of the leaves look distressed. I’m not sure whether to cut it way back or leave it alone to see what parts may survive, if any. Master gardeners out there: I welcome your advice.

I’ve spent the last few days weeding and planning next steps for the garden, all the while listening for blasted chipmunks to chirp their way past the red camellia. I’m also trying to figure out the best way to protect the other two camellias we have, along with a young susanqua that is a transplant from my mother’s garden. Heaven help the chipmunks if they go there. Continue reading