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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)

TITLE: An Autumn Surprise in the Garden of Life
By Cyndie Odya-Weis
09/12/06


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Brisk autumn air nipped my eyelashes as I walked Jewel, my Jack Russell-Papillon pup. Watery eyes blurred my vision that windy afternoon but I didn’t need to see the gopher to know my dog was chasing it; Jewel’s tug on the leash assured me that she was on the prowl. “Energizer Bunny Dog,” our friend called Jewel and she lived up to the title as she chased the gopher toward the garden. I followed- well, I was pulled along. Jewel’s incessant sniffing of dead plants gave me a moment to blink my eyes and clear my view. There among the wilted leaves and brown hostas, bloomed the aptly-named Autumn Surprise. How gloriously grew these compact bushes of succulent leaves and purple flowers. How energizing was their fresh awakening just as the sweet blossoms of summer retired from their leading garden roles.

Autumn Surprise first entered our family when Grandma’s gardener, Fritz, brought a few shoots from Germany. Thanks to a negligent customs officer, Fritz’s family and ours enjoyed luscious plants for decades. Fritz pruned and planted. Grandma admired and attended. An automatic sprinkler system added another factor for agricultural success. Grandma walked us through the garden, even when we’d rather run and play. She pointed out prize-winning Irises in Spring, roses and tulips in summer and come October, the Autumn Surprise.

Gratitude was my attitude as I paced the 4’ x 20’ plot making mental notes for future re-plantings and removals. The warmth of creativity flowed through my veins as plans for next summer’s garden spread sunshine through my soul. I flashed a prayer of thanksgiving to God for grandma and Fritz and life; humans and plants, languishing and thriving. Sun shone on my face and I looked away from the brightness toward the ground. There under the lilac bush sprouted something green and purple….mis-laid clippings perhaps?? No, baby Autumn Surprises, well hidden …. just like when their ancestors came through Ellis Island in Fritz‘s luggage lining. Now, baby roots firmly grasped moist American soil. In this garden version of the maternity ward, robust little ones sprouted and grew strong while feeding from a hidden underground vine for as long as they needed--far from the parent plant. I remembered grandma explaining how they’d bloom wherever they ended up; unless, of course, Fritz found a better spot for each one. More mental notes took hold as I pondered future homes for precious plants.

Jewel’s bark yanked me back to reality and we flew toward the door. She needed a drink--and who was I to object? Freshly-brewed coffee awaited me.

In we charged toward water bowl and coffee cup, then on to sunny window sill with stuffed toy (Jewel) and cushy recliner and computer (me).

The E-mails from Jill, my high school friend and from Adrian, my 20 year old daughter studying abroad, were as comforting and stimulating to my mind as the coffee and recliner were for my body.,,aaaaahhhhh, bliss. Other emails encouraged me to buy pills, books, investment services, perfume….arrrrgggghhh, the weeds-of-life junk mail. I reclined and began to read.

Jill’s email brought giggles and memories of three silly high school girls--Jill, Debbie and I. Together we had walked through grandma’s garden years ago, giggling as usual. Debbie died at age 29, much too soon- like some of those plants I longed to admire in their maturity. Jill and I reconnected decades later after maturing in different gardens; she in Indiana among four sons, I in Wisconsin with twin girls and a boy. Currently, we nurtured one another through emails and notes- like the long hidden vine of Autumn Surprise.

The poignant email from my daughter told of her new mission project- to find adolescents living on the streets and connect them with new families. Nutritious meals and clean water for dry lips and thirsty souls helped transplant those who were mistaken for weeds and errantly uprooted.

My heart burst with pride and gratitude as I savored this glimpse of Adrian’s purpose. And I thanked God for the bright sun and brilliant SON he constantly provided through the years to help me to plant seeds, strengthen roots and provide the sometimes hidden vine to nurture Adrian from afar so she could grow wherever she’s planted.

On this glorious Fall day, I thank God for lessons learned in the garden of life and especially, for my Autumn Surprise.


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Member Comments
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Jan Ross09/16/06
And what a surprise! I love the way you brought in the email communication, how friends grew in different "gardens"! My favorite line: "arrrrgggghhh, the weeds-of-life junk mail". Ahhhh -- how I can connect with that! LOL Well done! Great story! :)