Yom Kippur in the Garden

Saturday morning. 41 degrees. The first fleece-and-little-wool-hat morning of the season. My neighbors are gathering for Yom Kippur services at the Temple. One of the cantors is walking along the sidewalk in front of our house, warming up his baritone voice, filling the space with a kind of thick, beautiful richness. The traffic along our busy street has slowed, as it always does on Yom Kippur, as families park their cars and walk to the Temple. It is a quieter than usual morning in the garden. Chickadees chirp happily at the newly filled feeder.

I am not Jewish, but many people I love or have loved are, so to honor them on this holy day, I first visit a little lavender plant my friend, Daisy, gave me two Springs ago and I discover it has put out one new blossom. This little plant is as stalwart as Daisy and just as lovely.

Daisy's lavendar
Daisy’s lavender

I spend the first hour of my day tending my garden – a kind of atonement for recent neglect and distraction that has kept me from fully noticing its beauty and taking care of its needs. I tuck rose canes into fences, cut back mildewed peonies, crumble hollyhock seed pods and scatter them in bare spots. I stop to notice the chickadees prefer the seed in the feeder, while finches flit among the black-eyed susans and coneflowers. I pause to inhale some blooming things: a blue iris, an Angel Face rose, and to watch silvery light turn golden as shadows recede. I rearrange the stakes that have helped the flopped-over Japanese Anemone right itself. Now it looks more like itself, naturally leaning hither and thither, but standing mostly upright.

Reblooming blue iris
Reblooming blue iris
Angel Face Rose
Angel Face Rose
Japanese Anemone restaked
Japanese Anemone

Then I visit other blooming things – the yellows: roses, marigolds, lantana, coneflowers, coreopsis, and the blues: chicory, the blue iris, the Angel Face rose and a new aster. I tuck soil back around a new Gaillardia “Arizona Sun” and in the new ornamental grass garden smooth out mulch the squirrels and visiting dogs have rearranged. I say hello to all the mums that are just about to open, deep reds, russets, oranges, and one lovely pink one that I rescued from the Civic Garden Center as the Green Learning Station was being built.

Yellow Knock Out Rose
Yellow Knock Out Rose
Gaillardia "Arizona Sun"
Gaillardia “Arizona Sun”
Aster and Shenandoah Switch Grass
Aster and Shenandoah Switch Grass

Then a fresh pot of tea on the porch, a hello to the mail carrier, a chat with some friends walking their dog, and a few minutes to jot these notes and be thankful for it all.

Cindy Briggs

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