It only seems fitting that I should spend at least a portion of my birthday eve planting pansies. Nothing says you’re getting older more convincingly than an hour or so of gardening. Even joints I don’t know the names of are aching. And it seems only yesterday, after planting four flats of flowers, I was hollering at Charles, “More! We need more color in this bed!” My husband is readying one of his rehab houses for market. He likes to buy diamonds-in-the-rough, spruce them up, and sell them. I’m the self-appointed vice president in charge of finishing touches — in this instance, planter of eight purple pansies along the sides of the entry way.
I like leaving a mark with flowers. On one of my trips to visit my dad, I planted a flat of marigolds. My sister reported that they made it back each spring for several years, even when I didn’t. One time I went back to California after several years and stopped by the last home I’d had there. It was where I'd once carefully placed the contents from a couple of packs of daisy seeds. They were just sprouting when I'd left. As I drove up, I saw an entire wall of that house was covered in yellow daisies. It made me smile. And it provided evidence that I’d been there.
When I left our ranch in East Texas, I knew I was leaving behind dozens of gladiolus bulbs. It makes me happy to think that from time to time they’ll surprise the new owners with sudden shocks of brilliant color. My friend Leah assures me that we all long for significance; we all want our lives to count for something. That we mattered. Lord Baden-Powell suggested we leave the world just a little better than we found it. Maybe that’s what I’m trying to do. Or maybe I'm just seeking significance. One plant at a time.