Today is the day – it is March 17th, Saint Patrick’s Day. I get into the car and make by way to tackle my first chore with the promise of spring in the air – starting seeds at the ICC Green house. The seedlings are used for plantings in the Demonstration Garden that the Master Gardeners like me take care of. I check my speed – I am going at 55 miles per hour, well under the 65 on that stretch of road. As I approach the turn on into the college, I know I am slowing down, as my mind goes back to that day 11 months ago. That was when on an April evening, I was headed to this very same place when out of the blue an SUV pulled out of a side street and crashed into me – I was probably going more like 55 than 45 as I earlier thought. That started the ordeal but how lucky was I indeed that I had my life, no broken bones, just shock and bruises and pains that persisted – till this day as I will soon be having my last physical therapy appointment.
As I park and walk into the building, I am asked who I was – I identify myself as a Master Gardener. As I set my box down and set up for seed-starting, I suddenly feel close to tears. Not only is it a milestone for me being here for the first time since last April, it is different in another way. No Genny Gibbs in her office. She is away still recovering from some very serious surgery. I can hardly stop myself from feeling suddenly vulnerable – is it age that is doing this?
There is a certain bravado we have when we are young – nothing will ever happen to me. The majority of us hang on blithely to that feeling unchallenged. But decades later, it is no longer possible to be so sanguine about the future. I would not have thought even for a second last year that I would not be able to get to the greenhouse then or for the rest of the growing season. Would Genny have thought the same thing? Probably not.
I enjoy the ritual of planting about a dozen kinds of seeds in a seed tray and then set them in the greenhouse, after misting. As I collect my things preparing to leave, I wonder again at the delicate nature of life. A well-known sage in India put it succinctly Life is like a drop of water on a lotus leaf.
I have no idea what Saint Patrick would really think about how he is remembered today. For me his day embodies the promise of Spring. His color is green too. A reminder of how precious life is – and how ephemeral. Happy St Patrick’s Day! Happy Spring !!