The Lay of the Land
Tonight, after I got back in Carmel after a day working in Greenwood, I met Janet at Kristin’s new place to have dinner with the family. It was the first time that we all sat down to dinner together in Kiki’s Cottage and we enjoyed a great dinner that had been prepared by one of their friends over the week-end. Everything was fine, but I kept getting a nagging feeling that I should go out in the backyard and do a little work after we finished eating.
After all, the house has been vacant for a year or so and although the grass has been mowed, the bushes, trees and perennials are a little overgrown and need a little TLC. In fact, there is a lilac bush that now blocks the way off the deck to enter the backyard. It is something of a hazard so I put my lopping shears and tree saw in the car last week so that I could begin the job of pruning the bushes at my earliest opportunity.
After dinner, I headed out and very quickly got immersed in the chores I was engaged in. First the lilac bush near the deck, then out the the center of the yard to pick up loose branches from the sprawling Maple tree and then further out in the yard to an island with several other bushes that needed a haircut. It’s been quite some time, years in fact, since I worked like that in any yard.
Our current home includes most of the outside maintenance and, frankly, there are other things I would rather do than prune bushes. But I kind of got into it and before you knew it, things were starting to look better. Except that the yard was full of branches that needed to be cut up and put in bags and trash cans. The four boys – Connor, Carter, Cooper and Drew all came out to help clean up the mess. I couldn’t believe it. Now let’s face it – at 2-1/2, Drew was the youngest and not exactly somebody who could hugely impact the work load for the rest of us.
But that little kid worked like a trooper. Each time he saw one of his older cousins drag a branch to me to be cut up, Drew was right there with his own special offering for the trash. He was relentless – and each time I thanked him for his contribution to the effort. Pretty soon, the other boys also got more engaged in the clean-up and before you knew it, everybody was looking around the yard for loose debris. It really made the job go much faster.
I recalled when I was a youngster and worked in the yard with my grandfather. I relished those days. I learned more about nature and the rhythms of the season during those afternoons than I could ever share with you. Grandpa used to say that there was something special about running your fingers through the earth that God had created. I never failed to have a sense of accomplishment when we were done. And somehow, Grandpa always seemed to have a small smile on his face when we were done.
Tonight, I understood that smile from the other side – because I was the grandfather working with my grandchildren – well, at least four of them. The kids were all helping and I was lost in the moment, enjoying the exuberance of their youth and endless energy. Of course, several times they wanted to be done, but I urged them to the finish line and soon enough, everything was done and the yard looked much better. It’s a school night so we couldn’t work too late, thank goodness, but we had fun together.
I was reminded that when I finished each day of work with Grandpa, I received $1. He used to tell me that you do things for family and so, no matter how hard I worked, the pay was always the same. We would review all the things that we had done, and along the way, there would be a lesson or two about nature and the “lay of the land.” As I approach 60 years old, those are fond memories I cherish each spring.
So, when all the work was done, and the trash cans had been returned to the garage, I searched my wallet for $1 bills. Now I know inflation has occurred and that maybe I should be a little more generous, but sure enough, I had 4 singles – one for each of my young helpers. They were thrilled – maybe the pattern of several generations will continue until they get too old to want to help me. For this is the first time that I have worked in that yard, and the first time that we have worked together at any home the boys have lived in – after all, that used to be their father’s job. I’m sure that I will remember it for a long time to come.
One of the things that most people don’t realize is that vegetation was one of the miracles that God wrought on day 3 of creation. We are told in Genesis 1:11-13, “Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.” Notice the words near the end of the text – “God saw that it was good…..” That’s the part that thrills me – it is good that we work on the land.
My encouragement tonight is to enjoy God’s creation of the trees, bushes and plants that we have in our yards and our gardens. Each of these plants was thought out and planned by the God of the universe. My prayer is that you will have fond memories of your times with younger generations as you teach them the importance of nature to the supreme Creator of everything that we have. Grace and peace…