30 May 2010

Explosion of Colors on a Bed of Daisies


This may come as a complete and utter surprise to even the people I consider my close friends and associates these days, but the truth of the matter is that I do, indeed, have a green thumb! If I stuffed a paper clip into the earth, it will probably grow into a paperclip tree that will flourish and produce many paperclip flowers and seeds that will fall back onto the earth.

But that is the bull part of the story…

The problem with my green thumb is that I do not seem – these days – to have any inclination to do anything with it. Don’t ask me why because I did not ask for the gift. I suppose I just do not have the temperament to work with the earth…

The green thumb, I guess, is something I inherited from my Dad. When he was still in active service in the Air Force, he would quickly change into his work gear at the end of each working day then hurry outside to tend to his gardens. It was probably his therapeutic way of getting rid of the day’s stress accumulated at the office.

We had a small garden in front of the house – as did most families inside the Base – and although Dad planted even the humble kamantigue in his garden, he took real pride in his collection of orchids and daisies.

When we moved out of the Base and into our new home after Dad retired, the orchids just sort of died out. I do not recall exactly how, but I seem to remember that back when we first moved to our new home, there were not enough trees trees in the property – and, therefore, too much sunlight – for the orchids to continue to flourish.

Daisies, on the other hand, adore sunlight. I’m not absolutely certain, but I seem to remember Dad saying his colorful daisies were of the African variety.


Personally, I was always happy to leave the gardening to Dad. Although, as a young teenager, I went for the outdoor types of activities, if it did not involve running around it would probably bore me. Gardening did, if I am being perfectly honest.

If I did anything, I wanted to see immediate results. That, obviously, was not possible with gardening. Nature needs time to deliver the goods.

There were summer vacations, though, when one just begged for anything – repeat, anything – to do! These were when I got started helping Dad tend to his gardens. Although Dad continued to be agile, he was also not getting any younger. Mom, wise that she was, would occasionally ask me to help out. I was happy to leave the tilling of the soil and the removal of weeds to Dad; watering the plants was a lazier chore that I was happy to do.


There was one particular summer – I think I was in third or fourth year high school – when I just took over Dad’s beloved daisies. I do not even recall how or why – I just did!

You have to understand, daisies are summer plants. Oh, they do not die out when the rains start to fall; it is just that they do not flower as much as they do during the summer months.

As it happened during this particular summer, I found myself rehabilitating the beds of daisies before the hot summer sun baked the earth solid. It was not easy! I had to squat beside the rows of daisies in the early mornings to break up the soil and remove the weeds that had invaded the plots.


From our backyard poultry farm, I would fetch chicken droppings to use as fertilizer. By ten, it would be too hot to tend to the garden. So I would let the daisies soak up the sunlight and return in the late afternoons to water the plots.

It was a daily routine that I did not really think was my cup of tea. Yet, once I got started, I discovered it was not bad at all as a hobby. Once the rows of daisies were completely rehabilitated, and the plants started to look really green and healthy from the organic fertilizer I was feeding them, I started to feel the sense of joy and accomplishment – not to mention a oneness with Nature – that, I suppose, all gardeners experience.

The best reward for all the toil, of course, was when the flowers started to burst – shyly, at first – from deep within the plants to eventually explode into a cacophony of colors that was edifying to behold! In my Dad’s collection were whites, purples, tangerines, yellows, pinks and others, even mixed colors. In full bloom and randomly arranged as the daisies were, the beds were a feast for the eyes!


The explosion of colors went on for weeks until the rains started to fall, reluctantly at first, but more regularly as the rainy season eventually claimed the crown from the summer in the neverending battle of the seasons. Then, the weeds would start to overwhelm the beds. The daisies themselves would start to grow larger leaves; and the colorful displays would start to dwindle until they eventually disappeared.

But such is the cycle of life and death, of light and dark, of heat and rain that as sure as I lived and breathed, I could wager my life that the daisies would – when the rains stopped falling and the sun once again rose triumphantly for the summer months – come back to full glory in an explosion of colors as only daisies could deliver.

And now that I come to think about it, maybe I should pick up that garden hoe once again…

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