A Most Valuable Possession
By Michael Leach
The possession a person values most varies as widely as personal tastes. Cars, boats, houses, antiques, islands and jewels certainly rate as most valued for some. Not me.
Like many people across the ages and continents, I value something that seems commonplace but uniquely expresses its owner.
While I certainly like a smooth-riding car and comfortable home, my treasure offers so much more than dust-collecting furniture. When calm and isolation are required, I needn’t board a jet (private or commercial) to flit to a distant tropic isle in an azure sea. As for jewels, few pirate chests contain more splendor.
Where else does music, art, history, family tradition, science and sustenance meld in a single creation? Truly this is a many splendored thing.
Those of us who have such a possession give our treasure a unique twist, for the basic elements can be infinitely arranged, timed and colored, Constant, though imperceptible, change is a given and usually welcomed. Time eventually changes everything, but not always for the better. Cars rust. Paint fades. Roofs leak. We, however, plan for a future that will probably be radically different from where we start.
Each season, actually each moment, brings changes in hue, shape and content. Over the years, only photographs will bear witness to what it was “back then” and what it is now. Due to the fragility of our most-valued possession, such graphic evidence is all that remains after we leave it behind, as inevitably we will.
Depending on its design and scope, our possession may enfold us in seclusion or put us centerstage in a dazzling show. Some of us have possessions that do both. Broad smiles, sighs of pleasure and occasional gasps of delight are usually heard when we share our possession with others. Our treasure may exude a fragrance no perfume maker can duplicate. It may produce songs Mozart could never compose or colors to make Monet jealous.
No matter its size or cost, we are stewards of an incredibly complex operating system that consists of countless life forms. Can’t say that about a car or diamond ring.
We hold life itself when seeds spill from a little paper packet into our cupped hand. From such tiny, insignificant things, we can produce a living mosaic of seedlings, giants towering a 100 feet, and a host of all sizes in between.
We invite birds, butterflies, bees and toads to share the treasure. Few mansion owners want that kind of company on their polished floors.
Our treasure is a garden, whether potted plants by the window, manicured acres or postage stamp plots. My garden around the family home place includes sugar maples over a century old ,planted by great-uncles, flowers passed down from almost every side of the family, gifts from gardening friends, and a few new introductions. Some are native plants, others from China or Europe. The Madonna lilies from Grandpa Leach’s garden have been cultivated since ancient times.
Money is an essential for creating and maintaining a garden; some say it is the best manure. But the most important ingredient is passion. Ours is a labor of love. We dig, water, prune and fertilize with our hearts. Working with nature, the forever owner of our treasure, we cultivate a vision in three dimensions and a span of time.
We are called gardeners. Is that because our most valuable possession possesses us?