Why Do We Do What We Do In The Garden?

Rosa 'Evelyn'
Rosa 'Evelyn'

When I was out pulling off the tiny little brown covers from my white azalea flowers, it occured to me that yes, this was an insane thing to do, and so why am I doing it? 

Because those brown papery covers hang onto that pure white flower as it opens up, ruining the absolute perfect purity of the white, that's why.  Every time I walk by that azalea I see white, defiled.  And I pull off the brown bits because it's my garden, the one place on Planet Earth where I am Lord And Master and Queen Of All I Behold, darn it.

So I pull off the brown flower covers from my white Azalea.  I also deadhead my Pyrethropsis hosmariense, because I like it better that way.   No one but me may notice the difference, but little details like this can make a garden that much more beautiful. 

Pyrethropsis hosmariense

Pyrethropsis hosmariense

But why do we do what we do in the garden?  Why do we do what we do, period? 

This week, I just threw out a homemade dustpan my Dad made shortly before he died in 1985.  Dad recycled before recycling was cool. He made the dustpan from a square five gallon metal can that had once held paint thinner.  He cut the can on the diagonal, attached a wooden broom handle to it, and he could then sweep up stuff into the thing without having to bend over and use a hand-held dustpan.   

My Mom used it around the house for years (it was very handy!)  and when she died, and we were cleaning out their house, I just couldn't throw it out.  I had a specific memory firmly latched to that dustpan:  I remember seeing it for the first time, and asking my Dad where he'd gotten it.  He replied that he made it himself.  I said, "Wow, that was so clever, great idea!" and he beamed at me.  A big happy smile, which I rarely saw.  I remembered that smile every time I saw that dustpan.   So I kept the dustpan. 

This week I was cleaning up, and had to admit the dustpan didn't work well anymore.  It was fragile, the metal was bent, and the broom handle was splintery.  I thought about rational action, rational living, rational acting, and about the little papery covers on the azalea flowers, and decided it was time to throw out the dustpan.  I decided, though, to hold on tight to the memory of that big, happy smile.

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