No garden of mine has ever achieved the same magic, but whether I am digging the foundations of a new bed, or uprooting the ever-present quack-grass from among the irises, I always feel very close to her there.
Even the crooked little path winding down between the holly trees. Prickly and narrow though the passage was, it seemed to beckon us into the possibility of another, more magical world. A place full of invisible fairies waiting to be discovered. A place perfectly created for imagining “what if?”
Gardens, to her, were as necessary as breathing, and her love of gardening seems to have rubbed off on all of us girls to some extent. Her back yard was a source of unending delight. Shaded paths under the drooping boughs of lofty evergreen giants. The little rose-covered arbor that begged you to sit and rest for a while. Giant hydrangeas bushes nodding their blue and violet heads.
Her garden was a magical place, wound through with shaded walks and hidden delights, and the girl I was still roams there in my memory.
“Angels Among us” — that wonderful song by Alabama brings to mind a smiling face lined with age, and sparkling blue eyes, wise with years of love and laughter. My Great Aunt Sadie has been gone many years, but I can hear her voice as clearly as if she were in the room with me. She was a very special and courageous lady, and if I ever were to choose someone to be my guardian angel, she would be at the top of my list.
My gardening efforts these days lean more to containers. Lots of containers. It’s a far cry from the half-acre, hill-side rock garden of a few short years ago, but that was never really mine to keep. It was only ever on loan.
But flowers are beautiful, regardless of who planted them or where. From elegant lilies and wall-clinging roses to a road-side ditch full of wild clover, purple asters and Brown-eyed Susans.
And wherever we go in life, we always seem to take along at least some baggage. Part of my rather large trunk-full is for the pictures — the mental images of family and friends no longer here but still alive in my memory.
The finest and best of them travel along with me — my better angels. They offer guidance and support when the road gets too bumpy.
Those days when life seems too hard, when the colors are too harsh and the edges of a thing just a bit too sharp, my personal angels are there, in my memory, to comfort and guide with their remembered wisdom.
I take them out, like a bunch of old photos, and rummage through their stories. I revel in the details of their adventures.
Aunt Sadie’s rose garden at Jasper Park Lodge, and her run-in with a grizzly bear — which is why she ever afterwards kept a rifle handy. Or Granny’s introduction to Canada via train at the ripe old age of nine years old. And of her being saved after the train derailed, because an alert conductor spotted her red-sweater-clad arm sticking up out of a snowbank. And my Auntie who grew annoyed with their minister and started her own church.
Pioneering spirits all. Great ladies I number among my guardian angels.
I believe we are blessed many times in our lives with intercession from somewhere beyond our understanding. Call it heaven, the universe, life… Sometimes, when we are up against it, or in need of grace, we are visited by angels.
They speak to us with human voices, in human forms, but I believe their words and deeds are other-inspired. They’ve been touched by some kind of awareness. Or perhaps they just happened to be where we needed them to be, just at that moment in time, and they said exactly what we needed to hear.
They may not know they’re messengers. Most of the time, our angels will think they were just responding to a need. “Oh, anyone would have done the same,” they’ll say.
I believe they’re acting out of love. The kind of love that guides us to do more and be more than we could ever have thought possible.
Guardian angels don’t always come in a guise we recognize. They don’t always come with a breath of spring or a rustling of unearthly feathers.
Sometimes it’s not even very dramatic — just the awareness, slowly borne in on us, that someone might need us to be
It’s different for each of us.
But the place I’ve always felt closest to my angels, is in my garden. When I’m digging in the dirt. Or watering the soil. Watching the seedlings stretch and bud and finally bloom.
There’s something so miraculous about the whole process, the cycle of life springing out of the ground and returning back to it. Tapping into an endless source of love. Just beyond our knowing, but never beyond our reach.