Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ode to Farmer McGregor

Oh my, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?  I am sorry for the long absence but this witch’s world has been a flurry of activity.  There’s been too much happening, too much to do and too many obligations to meet to write for myself these days.  But here I am.  I’m back!  On to business…

For the past several years, as I walk to and from work or on my way to our local Wawa, I have passed a corner house, only two blocks away from my property, that I absolutely love because of its enchanting garden.  The home, owned by an elderly Irish gentleman and his wife, is surrounded by day lilies, rose and holly bushes, and other flowering shrubs and plants.  Every late Spring and early Summer, the backyard would be planted with vegetables and, tucked in among the tomatoes, carrots and lettuces, were two statues, one of the Virgin Mary and the other of St. Francis of Assisi.  Whenever the gentleman was outside working in his garden, he would look up and say a cheerful “good morning, young lady” or “good afternoon, young lady” to me.  Sometimes I would stop and compliment him on the garden.  In return, I received a wealth of gardening lore, as he would talk about this plant or that plant and how things like the weather or their location affected their growth or flowering.  I never got his name or formally introduced myself.  In my head, I named him “Farmer McGregor” because his vegetable garden reminded me of illustrations from a Beatrix Potter book and not of the actual character of Farmer McGregor.  I always looked forward to seeing Farmer McGregor, whether he was tending to his beloved garden or asleep in a lounge chair on the front porch with his brimmed hat pulled over his eyes.  He always brought a smile to my face and a sense of peace and joy to my heart.  Farmer McGregor’s garden enchanted me in every season and I knew it was home to the wee folk of nature.

Over the course of this past Autumn, I saw less and less of Farmer McGregor.  Even his wife, who I would see from time to time, seemed to be making scarce appearances.  I often thought about knocking on the door to inquire about their health and to see if they needed anything but I didn’t want to overstep my bounds.  The garden remained well-tended so I figured that all must be okay.  Apparently, I was wrong because early February brought a “For Sale” sign to the house.  My mind raced through all that could have befallen Farmer McGregor.  Was he ill?  Was he in a nursing home?  Had he passed away?  I saw no one around the house to ask, not his wife or a neighbor.  In fact, the house seemed oddly lifeless.  But the garden still grew.  Each day when I passed the house, I’d say a silent prayer for Farmer McGregor and that his beloved garden would have new owners that cared for it with as much love and tenderness as he had.

In early April, in what seemed like overnight, the sale sign was gone as were the porch chairs, the lace curtains in the windows and the statues in the backyard.  Farmer McGregor, whether alive and somewhere else or passed beyond the veil, was truly gone.  The days that followed brought a flurry of activity at the house.  Workmen tore out carpets, replaced siding and roofing, repaired windows and updated electrical systems.  Every day, a new work truck arrived and something was changed.  All the while, the garden continued to blossom and grow.  But now it was out of control.  The flowers and bushes seemed to be taking over whatever space they could find in the yard or on the sidewalks.  I had a sinking feeling in my gut that the new owners were not gardeners.  Worse, what if they had no interest in nature at all?  This feeling was almost confirmed by the fact that I started to see children’s bikes tossed carelessly on top of lilies or against the Rose of Sharon.  Once or twice it occurred to me that perhaps I should ask them to contact me should they be thinking about removing any of the plants.  I would gladly give them new homes in my garden or in the gardens of fellow Village Wise Women.

After the Memorial Day weekend, I was headed home from work.  It was a particularly odd sort of day.  Heavy dark clouds kept moving in as if a thunderstorm was on its way.  When the sun was out, it was very warm but a very cool breeze would gust up now and again.  I began to pass Farmer McGregor’s house.  I no longer looked up for him as I had in the past, just looked straight ahead and kept my eye on getting home.  But this day, I glanced to the left of the sidewalk. A loud sound of shock escaped from my throat, I stopped dead in my tracks and I almost doubled over, actually reaching out for some solid object to grasp for fear that I would fall.  Someone had hacked away almost everything!  Bits of day lilies, daisies, lavender and every other flowering plant lay where they fell, torn up and withering.  Holly and rose bushes were sawed off at their base, leaving stumps resembling gaping wounds.  I could almost hear Mother Earth crying from the assault.  Tears stung my eyes.  I was suddenly aware that I was being watched.  A man glared angrily at me from the backyard where he was working.  I quickly walked away towards home clutching my chest as if my heart was breaking.

How could anyone be so careless, so disrespectful, so destructive and so hateful?  Sadly, the disrespect of nature is a growing attitude in society and, in my opinion, will be the downfall of mankind.  Mother Earth will take back what is Hers.  I can assure you of that.  I saw signs of that at Farmer McGregor’s on Monday afternoon.  The day lilies have started to grow again!  They are taking back what is theirs!  Of course, they would!  What the new owners of Farmer McGregor’s don’t know but what every good gardener does know is that you can cut down day lilies as many times as you want but they will return, and in greater numbers.  They multiply unseen in the Earth.  I even saw a small branch sprout on one of the rose bush stumps!  That too will return if left alone.  I am sure these new owners will just cut the garden back again and again until they realize that they have to dig the plants out to rid the yard of them but, until that time, I will smile the sweet smile of Mother Earth’s power each time I pass by that house.

Yesterday, Summer Solstice, as I passed by again, I got the strangest feeling of being watched.  This time no one was there.  I caught a feeling of sadness in the air.  A picture flashed through my mind.  It was of a faery sitting on a branch of the Rose of Sharon (miraculously still intact), elbows against knees and hands supporting chin, with a lost look on his or her face.  Aloud I said,  “If you need somewhere to go, you may come to my gardens.  You’ll be happy there.”  An unexplained overwhelming sense of relief rushed over me and I turned towards home.  As I walked along, I felt like I was being followed, not by one or two beings but by several, cautiously yet happily.  Upon reaching my gardens, the Village Wise Woman’s Garden, several emotions came over me.  Feelings of welcome, gratitude and peace washed over me.  I knew then that the faeries of Farmer McGregor’s garden were now at home in mine and that somewhere he was thankful that someone cared as much for his garden as he once had.