Magnolias. Progress and Patience

My Baby Magnolia

My Baby Magnolia

Eight years ago a dear friend who lives on the nearby Isle of Palms, dug a volunteer Magnolia seedling from her yard and transported to my garden.  It was basically a stick with two leaves, but I figured what did I have to lose?  If it did not survive, I would not feel the guilt that would come from buying a pricy Magnolia seedling from a nursery.  If it did survive I would have a visible reminder of our friendship, making it much more than a specimen in my landscape.  I carefully selected a spot in my then barren landscape and watered it religiously. the first two years I could actually step over it when I mowed.  Now eight years later it is reaching for the sky and has more leaves than I care to take the time to count.  I looked forward to this Spring, surely my patience for the sweet creamy saucers that are Magnolia blossoms would be rewarded.  Alas I must report I have been disappointed as new leaf after new leaf have unfurled yet no buds or blossoms in sight. There have been a few deer bites on lower branches but I am fairly certain it was only tender leaves that became a treat for my doe-eyed friends.  I consulted my gardening bible: Southern Living’s : The Southern Living Garden Book (excellent resource for any who garden anywhere in the American South).  I was a bit disheartened to learn that it could take as long as fifteen years until the blooms begin.

Well  . . . could be seven more years to wait.  I realized this tree is a great metaphor for my writing career.  Although I have been a lifelong writer, it has only been a short time that I have been pursuing writing professionally. I am unknown in the publishing world, in a sense you can easily step over my writing.  It will be a few more years before my leaves, my pages, are more than anyone would care to count (except possibly an editor). The reality is it may be quite a few years before I am in full bloom.  But just like my stick of a tree, with the right nurturing, I will eventually get there.  Conventional wisdom tells us the best and most meaningful things in life are worth the wait.  Every time I step out my back door or glance out a back window my stoic Magnolia will be a gentle reminder that beautiful things will come my way in their own time. Patience will be my virtuous companion as time progresses on, but I will admit, an earlier bloom for the tree and me would be more than welcome!

The Measure of Time

I am fairly new, not even a year, to the phenomena of Facebook.  I am still exploring its benefits and its detriments.  I love reconnecting with friends from the past who somehow drifted away.  I love seeing photos of kids and events I was missing out on because I was not on Facebook.  One of the things I have observed is it has become a way to measure the passage of time.  People post way back pictures to celebrate or in memoriam.  Milestones are documented: Wow, can that kid really be old enough to get their college acceptance letter? It seems like yesterday they were skipping down the hall at school. There are times I feel time stands still, in Charleston we have many historic landmarks that are preserved with loving care to make it seem as though they were frozen in time. I have found my age stands still for me, somewhere in my early thirties and I have to really think to remember how old I am. Yet in the twenty-nine years I have called this charming coastal community home it has also moved ahead in time with a vibrancy that keeps us in the current century as well.  (Not all growth has been to our benefit, some has changed the feel of our community forever, but that is a subject for another day.) I would like to think my life has progressed with that same vibrancy. My HVAC broke this past week and as I was contemplating whether it would be reparable or need replacing I realized it was approaching it’s tenth birthday.  I have lived in my current house for ten years!  How is that possible?  It seems like yesterday I took the plunge to purchase a single family home complete with yard.  I had never used a lawnmower in my life.  My friend Stacy brought her lawnmower over and gave me a lesson, yes that is me wearing a dress and pearls while having a go at lawn care.  While that seems over the top even for a southern girl, in my defense I vaguely remember I had an event requiring such attire shortly after the lesson.  Behind me you might be able to tell my backyard was completely devoid of plant life, including grass.  Now, ten years later it is a veritable Garden of Eden with magnolia, river birch, eastern redbud, camellias, roses, herbs and so much more. These days I mow in shorts and a t-shirt, I am practical after all.  When I look at that picture I see a year, maybe two gone by, certainly not the decade that has expired.  Those who know me are well aware of my plan to live to be one-hundred, and I guess beyond if my mind is still sharp, one-hundred seems so very far away from my forties.  Yet I am acutely aware that when I get there the lifetime before will seem like mere moments.  So I am going to wear my pearls more often, even for the mundane tasks and try to revel in the present before it’s gone.

First lesson in lawn mowing.

First lesson in lawn mowing.