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My Most Beautiful Thing

My garden this spring. Beautiful in a homely sort of way these days.

I've actually been thinking about this for a long time. And it was surprisingly hard to choose one most beautiful thing. Really, there are so many things - large and small, living and inanimate -  in my life that are beautiful, ranging from the tiny little bee I spotted in the calendula this morning to the blueberry blossoms on the patio to my rain-spattered violas. And then there are the people in my life, of course, beautiful in such a myriad of ways that it would be impossible to choose just one. (Although, surely, my husband will make a case for being at the top of the list.) In short, I realized as I mulled over this post inspired by Fiona Robyn over at Writing Our Way Home and her My Most Beautiful Thing Blogsplash, that I had enough most beautiful things to write about one every day for a month if not a year.

My final choice, of course, will be no surprise: my garden. Imperfect as it is at the moment (it is spring and it has recently been a bit neglected) it is without a doubt my most beautiful thing. The bright yellow blossoms on the haksai (Chinese cabbage) smell softly like honeysuckle, and the sight of so many bees and other friendly pollinators congregating there gives me pleasure beyond belief. The vivid red stems of the Swiss Chard glow with sunlight and I can almost taste Maan's soup as I gather a bundle to take home. The new leaves of the beans planted a little over a week ago harvest light in their little living solar panel way, and I look forward to seeing the orchid-like blossoms that come with summer's approach. The rhubarb stands tall and thick as it tries to get my attention near the blooming strawberry plants. "How about some jam?", they ask as I ponder my schedule and mentally tally the canning jars on the bottom shelf in the kitchen.

Below ground, too, is plenty to give me pleasure. The worms wriggling with shock at the sudden intrusion of sunlight as I planted seed potatoes (blue and pink varieties!) mean my soil is busy with life and that those nasty nematodes may be on their way out. The smell of the soil as I covered the potatoes over again and marked each spot with a broken off twig is equal to that of my mother's coffeecake on a Sunday morning for the happiness I feel at the first whiff. Both mean good things for the future that can be shared, and that's a source of pleasure all its own, too.

My garden in Japan is a joy, too, because of Takashi-san and C-chan, the farmers I work with and who let me carve a little growing space out of a corner of their fields. We work together at all hours over the course of the year in all seasons to plant, to harvest, to weed, and to prepare the fields for the next round. Tokyo is warm enough that the growing season simply never stops, so we carry on because the vegetables and the farm's faithful customers need us to. It's gratitude and happiness I feel to have such good companions and teachers.

Granted, my most beautiful thing doesn't fit in a drawer or pocket (although I seem to bring plenty of it home sometimes on trousers and gloves!), is always changing, and sometimes makes me want to pull out my hair, it is undoubtedly what I love best.


I enjoyed your post. It's interesting to know what is the most beautiful thing for each person. Thanks for sharing!
Unknown said…
what a beautiful post. feel like I've visited : )
Martin J Frid said…
That is beautiful writing. I'm inspired, thank you!
It is very beautiful! It sounds like a lovely place to retreat from the world, dreaming of the beautiful vegetables and the meals you'll cook. Love it...
Thanks all. I'm overwhelmed by your good words and finding that it resonated with you. It's funny, too, because as Eleanor says in her comment, the garden is a retreat for me even though it is an incredibly public space. Somehow once I'm through the farm gates I'm in another world. See you in the garden!
Ambiguitylotus said…
This is a lovely post, Joan. Thank you so much for "walking" us through your garden. I feel like I can smell and touch (and even taste--though I don't want to taste the worms, of course!) everything too through your post. :) So glad to read your most beautiful thing. I hope you don't mind, but I am sharing this post on my blog:

Blessings to you!

Many thanks, Kathy, for reading the post. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed the process of writing it. It was a great theme. And I don't blame you for not really wanting to taste the worms. They don't really even look that tasty, truth be told. :)

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