Seeking Green

By: Lisa Hoffman, curator of education on August 7th, 2019

I smelled green – clean, crisp, refreshing. I heard green – snap, crunch. Then, I uttered my perennial regret, “I wish I’d planted a vegetable garden.” My co-worker, Becca, was feasting on the fruits of her labor . . . a fresh, succulent, cucumber.

Although during Woodson Art Museum programs I introduce participants to this summer’s botanical art in the galleries, I’m not a gardener. I’m not even a lawn-er. The two consecutive harsh winters combined with the introduction of a family dog, has reduced my backyard to a patch of brown with intermittent sprouts of green. Granted, the reduction was fairly unimpeded as the standards bar at my house is set at “yard” not “lawn.”

After evidence of last year’s do-it-yourself grass seeding failed to make an appearance this spring, I contacted a national lawn care company that promised to move the bar to “luxurious” and “manicured.” After searching my property on Google Earth, the customer service representative wished me well and took a hard pass on the service contract.

© Betsy Rogers-Knox, Woodland Wildflowers, 2016, watercolor on paper

As luck would have it, shortly after being stood up by the experts, I moved a chemistry student home from college. Creating green in the backyard then became her task. With more joie de vivre than the previous attempt, Student tossed a variety of orphaned sunflower and wildflower seeds into the mix.

We achieved green, yet barely. I believe “sterile” might best describe the dirt in which we tried to coax grass. With ample sunshine and frequent watering, clover and dandelions flourished and overtook the brown, producing a smattering of green.

The birds and squirrels claimed the flower seeds. I directed Mower – the other child living under my roof – to pull a prominent weed growing by the garage fence, during the next grass cutting. In an intervening moment – and during what is my only daily venture into the yard, which is to give Dog a comfort break – I went to harvest the weed myself. Except it wasn’t a weed; it was a sunflower.

This talisman continues to resiliently extend taller, oblivious to Google Earth and coupons for introductory offers of luxury care packages. It’s just doing its thing . . . growing.

This fall, about the time the sunflower blooms and the Birds in Art  2019 exhibition fills the galleries, I will again repeat my regrets at not gardening, as Becca devours a home-grown tomato slice.

Yet, I’ll keep in mind that sunflower – proof that growth occurs, even in surprising ways and places. Visit the Woodson Art Museum, filled with opportunities for creativity to flourish in any season.

May you discover in your life green growth that reaches unbowed toward the light, this summer, fall, and beyond.

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