March brought us a windstorm large enough to knock out our power, rain on the Equinox for the community egg hunt, and a whole host of viruses, which circulated around our family. The last two weeks, we fought through sickness to be productive, both in the home and garden, clearing away the old, and making room for the new.
One part of our garden gone long-neglected was an old terra cotta Greenman, hung on the house by the previous gardener over a decade before.
I might have brushed away cobwebs once, but I think it kept slipping my mind over the more pressing and practical issues of digging, weeding, building, and so on. But after nine years of living in the woods, and about five attempting to make a productive garden out of some of it, I turned and looked hard at the Greenman and understood.
After tilling and digging and building this weekend, I went back outside at dusk, took him down off the wall, and gave him a good wash.
The blast of cool water sent the worst cobwebs away into the dirt, and scrubbed free bird droppings. I washed behind his ears, where old spider egg casing hung empty and graying. With the help of a gloved finger, I nudged away filth and debris around the wire where the hook held it.
Once rehung, he seemed to smile a bit more, his cheeks glowing in the fading sunlight. Then we had a talk, and I asked his help in looking out for our little garden.
"Thanks," I said, "for watching out for this space. Thank you for working with the Mother to make sure things grow. I ask you aid me in making this bit of land grow vegetables and fruits and herbs for my family, and a little extra for our animal neighbors. Please help us in making this a working plot of land to feed and nourish those within the house and those who come to visit. Thank you."
I felt he heard me. I felt he understood, and I gave him a nod and turned to go.
Before I left, though, I asked one more favor. "And would mind helping me reduce the number of slugs who come to call? Not all of them, just enough to keep our garden growing strong."
Washing the Greenman reminded me of something:
When you're struggling to achieve something you feel is important, and practical steps aren't working, maybe it's time to take a look around. There may be something or someone neglected who seemed superfluous but may prove instrumental in removing the biggest obstacles in your path.