I Grew a Garden

In memory of Carol Jarvis-Kirkendall       April 28, 1937  –  November 20, 2013

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I grew a garden this past year.

It was a first of a lifetime.

Never done this before. Never grew flowers. Never grew anything edible. Never understood how Carol could get so enthralled working her hands in damp earth. Never had that desire myself. Never expected I would.

Didn’t need it. Was doin’ fine without it. I mean “What’s in a flower?” You can buy it all at the grocery store or find a farmer. There’s no profit in a garden.

But she taught me to be open to new experiences.

So in honor of Carol Ann, the woman who inspired so many memorable firsts in my life. . .

and with some help in getting started,

I grew and tended my garden.

It was earth hand-tilled by Carol in the weeks before she passed. She used to sit out there on a cushion using her little hand-spade, digging up weeds and tossing them aside, picking stones and placing them where she thought they ought to be.

She took off her gloves to knead the earth with her fingers. She had hands-full of love for all of life. She tended her gardens with a quiet feminine reverence. She said her gardens loved her back.

Gardens can love you back? I know you men are thinking I am over the edge, but hear me out.

I tended my garden as Carol would have. It was not long before I began to have moments of insight. Like little pieces of a spiritual puzzle, the vision became more clear over the passing year.

I called it a memorial garden. When I tended it, I talked to Carol as she sat in her rocker watching and listening to me. She used to ask me to tell her a story. So I told stories and told her how much I miss her.  I told her how grateful I was that I learned so much from loving her for twenty-eight years.

Well here’s the the thing that really surprised me. I mean knocked my socks off

All this stuff bloomed!October 2014 003

Carol’s Memorial Garden grew sunflowers and snow peas right off the bat.   Ate a lot of peas.  Zinnias took over one side and seemed to just go on forever blooming. Then some weird green thing grew five feet tall, and overnight, burst out with a flower like I have never seen before, and then popped out with eight more, all of them bobbing in the breezes, happy as clams at high-tide. Call them Cosmos.  Turns out both flowers are related to the daisy.

All through those bloomings, down on the ground a vine was growing and stunning me with ongoing hand-sized yellow/orange blossoms.  As it got cooler at the end of the season, I finally harvested two pumpkins for pies

I put a lot of love and reverence into the garden like Carol would have. It was a great experience.  I love the fact that I am still inspired by her influences.

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Of course, autumn had to show up. The food and flowers dried up brown, dead and gone. One year after my beloved’s passing. my garden’s beauty faded and is blowing away with the cold winds.

But check this out. I have placed seeds in envelopes for next year. I am preparing for spring.  She would be proud.  She’s probably chuckling right now.

And yeah, the garden loved me back.

Her Chair
Her Chair

No doubt about it.

Check out the sunflowers.

Weren’t they grand!

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Marriage-Decision-Vision

(excerpt from the forthcoming novel Grace and Dreamer by Jeffery Kirkendall)

Jack was considering asking Grace to marry him.

Photo by Winged Photography
Photo by Winged Photography

During this time of great contemplation, he was driving his truck to the cabin he and Grace were staying in for a couple of weeks of writing. On a little-traveled two-lane blacktop, among the springtime Ponderosa pines, he was startled by a large hawk flying dangerously close in front of him. He put the brakes on and watched as the bird soared up onto a nearby hill and landed at the top of a bare dead tree.

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Jack pulled off the road, and stopped. The hawk was beckoning to him. He deftly eased out of the truck, walked over and slipped through a fence, and then he strode towards the crest of the hill and the old tree and the great bird. As he came close to the bird’s perch, his winged brother tilted his head for a last look, nodded, and lifted off to the east.

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Jack stood still in the light breeze and scanned the valley below, much as the winged one had appeared to do. Then before him he noticed a distinct depression in the earth. It was long and narrow and strangely looked just the size for a human to lay in. Jack had read of an Indian that went on a vision quest, fasting for days while lying in just such a hole on top of a hill. So Jack laid down in the earth.

As he laid there and looked about, he thought the soft natural bed was deliberately located on the hill so that someone lying in it was positioned in an offertory fashion before the sky above and earth below.  So he closed his eyes and opened himself up to a prayer, asking God to guide him in his important life decision.

He was suddenly taken with the image and sense of an old man standing still before him, a man who appeared peaceful and carried a staff. He looked at Jack until Jack realized he had just asked in his prayer, “Should I marry Grace?”  The old man had come with lightning  response.

The old man made a slight gesture with his staff, and Jack had an amazing vision of many attractive and sensual women surrounding him in a public venue.  They showered him with attention and adulation for his many worldly accomplishments. Jack felt some of the  sensations of that vision as it lingered, and then instantly it was gone.

Before him again was the old man. Jack understood him to say. . .

or you can marry this woman and live a life of greatness.

The vision vanished.  The gentle sounds of the birds in the meadow returned.
Alone on the hill, lying in the grass and sunshine and a gentle breeze, Jack sat up and looked across the valley.

He knew . . .

It was true.

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