Thursday, February 7, 2013

In the Off Season

We stepped out the front door, towed by the dog at the end of her leash. She loves her walks.

My son commented as he stepped off  the porch, nodding at a sparse shrub, "That didn't make it, did it."

I said, "Hey, it is winter. It is supposed to look like that right now." And, I resisted the urge to talk to the plant and assure it it would be okay, just hang in there (I'm a bit odd like that with my plants).

The plant is a Russian Sage, covered with lavender-like blooms summer through fall. They do very well here, blooming for months with little care, and lots of houses have them in their yards. As we walked, I noticed how the bigger, older, established ones looked just the same as my little one, planted last fall. Except bigger, of course.

We won't know for sure if it survived its first winter until spring. I have watered it when the days are above 50 degrees, according to the nursery directions. This dry, cold winter is hard on young plants and they need extra moisture even when they don't look alive.

Walking the neighborhood, noticing the dry, scraggly shrubs in people's yards, it made me think. How often do we throw something out - an idea, a relationship, a skill - because it doesn't look full or beautiful or finished or valuable.

That idea may be in the beginning stages. Barely fleshed out, more of an image than a full blown concept. It may need water and nourishment. It may need a bit of pruning back those bare branches. It may need time. Time to deepen its roots and reach into the ground for moisture and nutrients and strength to hold firm against the blustery winter winds. Time to fill out.

That relationship may not look like much. Barely even a relationship, really. People need time. Time to flourish and bloom, and sometimes time to rest and sit through a season of stillness. Waiting. Growing in invisible ways. Valuable. A relationship takes time. Giving time, waiting time.

That skill. Any skill grows through spurts and plodding. A skill like playing the piano. Hours of practice. The same lines over and over and over. Progress, stumbling over the keys, fumbling with the timing, the technique, working and re-working the hard parts, struggling along. And one day, the notes flow through the fingers, perfect and beautiful. Melodious.

My little Russian Sage will be pretty come summer, enjoyed every time we step off the front porch. I will notice it, even if our son doesn't. Now, in the off season, it doesn't look like much. Barely even looks alive. But come warmer weather, it will begin to sprout tiny green leaves, filling all those bare branches with green, and budding into lavender colored bursts come summer. What appears dead and bare now, will become beautiful, in its season.
A hedge of Russian Sage in the summer