For the past two months, we have had very little rainfall. Our moderate drought was taking a toll on the plants in the gardens, the trees in the woods, the creek life, and our attitudes. Every day we looked to the skies for relief from hand watering, for respite from the heat and the fretting about the plants we’ve nurtured for a year, for any sign of water coming down from the heavens. And each day we were disappointed, watching the ground dry and crack and the plants wilt and drop flowers. Finally, last Thursday we got one of those famous afternoon thunderstorms that we’d watched skirt around us for weeks. We were so grateful (meaning… Ecstatic!) that we did happy dances and shouted words of thanks to the clouds and gods and goddesses! We got a total of 2.5 inches of rain in two hours. Hooray!
Later that evening we walked around the homestead to feel the wet soil under our feet and to see how the plants handled the downpour (For a short time it rained at a rate of 5+ inches per hour!!). Some of our biggest, most prolific bloomers – borage, black-eyed Susans, Penstemon – now sprawled horizontally across the ground, beaten down by the pounding rain and wind, their stems and flowers tipped sideways and dripping with raindrops. It would require some work to set them upright or trim them down to make room for new growth. The rest of the yard and woods faired better and seemed to vibrate with renewed energy as it welcomed the new moisture in the soil.
Part of me was elated to finally get the much-needed rain, and part of me was saddened to see some of our showiest and healthiest plants now bent and grounded. We worked hard to nurture all the new natives and other flowering plants we put in during the past year. We watched them grow and mature and bloom, and then to get battered a bit by the storm… it was a little disheartening. But I cut some stems and made flower arrangements, collected seed heads from others, dried some flowers for teas and decoration, and composted some stems that couldn’t be saved.
The lesson here is that holding on to the idea of certain outcomes can lead to great disappointment and emotional suffering. But embracing what is, what happens – whatever that is – allows us to find joy and be content no matter what. I do not have any control over the weather and its impact on our gardens. I do have control over how I respond to and feel about it. If I have a positive or hopeful outlook, but am willing to let go out the outcomes, I will discover the gift that presents itself in the moment. I now have more dried flowers in my herbiary, seeds for planting next year, and fresh cut flowers decorating my table, thanks to the rainstorm. The outcome of damaged plants wasn’t what I had hoped for, but it gave me other gifts and, in fact, provided opportunities to think about how I might help prevent plant damage in future storms.
Outlook vs outcome. Find the gifts where they are – right in front of you.