So at the beginning of last summer, we hired a small family company to do some of the heavy landscaping around the house. They moved some shrubs, and filled in some low spots around the foundation and then refilled with new rock. They also tore out the two tall, shabby looking and old evergreen shrubs that anchored two corners of the house. It’s amazing how it opened up the look of the entire front – it’s also amazing that they could do it, and it was something I’d never be able to do, especially taking out the stumps and planting new lilacs in their place.
The other thing they did was to yank out the low-lying flat evergreen that was by the front door, and spent most of its time trying to decide which part of itself was going to turn brown each year, and how much trash could get collected and stuck in it on windy days. Cheri hated it from the first moment she saw it, and it was not friend of mine either. So, with the time being right, five years later, out it went, and the area was then filled in with a nice layer of landscape rock.
Now, to the normal human eye, it would have appeared that the area was now a finished project – nice and clean and opening up the whole entry space. You would think that, but unfortunately, you would be mistaken. The more “we” looked at that space, the more “we” began thinking it was just a little too bare, and what was needed in there was a nice shrub of sorts – something that would add color and a bit of pop to the front door area. The discussion went on for an entire four seasons, until finally, “we” decided that we would begin to hunt for the very best kind of shrub.
Now, some folks – silly them – would simply head over to the nursery, see a plant, buy it and plop it into the space, and then go have a cup of coffee. As I said, what a simply silly way of deciding things. In our house, decisions like what type of shrub gets planted takes on a much grander, larger project. A number of months were spent driving into the driveway – each time – and looking at the open space, and commenting on how a nice flowering shrub, or some other colorful plant would work wonderfully there. The next few months included the repeated near-litany of what we did NOT want to go in there. Day lilies were forbidden, as were potentillas and spiraeas, and just replacing things with another evergreen. It couldn’t be too tall, nor simply hug the ground like the one that got yanked. I call this process “the decision-making by nots” – it’s kind of like the story about Michelangelo, who when carving a block of stone into a beautiful angel, was asked how he was able to do so. His reply? “I just removed everything that didn’t look like the angel, and this is what remained.” That’s our shrub deciding process.
However, the time came – in that mysterious moment – when the comments moved from what “we” didn’t want, to what we might want. We have two beautiful big rose bushes in the back yard. One explodes with yellow roses for about three weeks in the spring/summer, and then remains just a green plant for the other 49 weeks of the year. The other one is a little slower to bloom, but will bloom all summer long with pretty pink blossoms, that go along with its razor sharp thorns that seem to enjoy reaching out and stabbing you when you aren’t watching. Yet, with both of those negatives, the idea of a rose bush began to move up in the polls. Granted, we still have the fallback of a nice bush that would perhaps have leaves other than green – we haven’t quite found a name for one yet – that would be our signature front door vicinity plant. Yet, the conversation is about possibilities instead of limitations.
Now that it is May, and perhaps in week or so, it will stop freezing at night, so the time to plant a shrub is quickly moving toward us. This brings us to the final round of the selection process. On this beautiful Mother’s Day weekend, we are actually going to possibly visit one – no, make that four – different nurseries, and see what they might have that would be the answer to our year-long dream. Let me be clear, however: we are not going to go to a plant place and find a plant and bring it home. We are going to at least four plant places, even if we find the perfect one at the first place, because, by gum, this is a “shopping” event, and not a “buying event.” Now, I would guess, when you drive by homes, and see bland, but fairly nice looking landscaping, that you would discover the only person living in the home is a male. A male who is proud that the time it took to get a new plant could be counted in less that two hours, instead of 12 months. This will not be the case at the Crosses – I can nearly guarantee that we will find three or four different plants that are “just perfect,” and then have to swing back around and buy the one we finally settle on, although it will have to wait until the next day, just to sleep on it and make sure it’s the right one. And I’m sure you have already surmised that when “we” decide on the very right one, at that moment in the cosmos, some other person will quickly purchase it, and leave us hanging.
Still, my hope is built on the concept and history that we will indeed find something, and complete the task, not unlike building the pyramid at Giza. Actually, I had suggested that maybe we put in a birdbath or some other type of ornament – like a gnome or a grinning frog – and that’s why I am on the support team, instead of the designer group.
Oh, it’ll be nice, and then we will move on to the next project – because the tall grasses we transplanted last year did not survive the winter, and so something needs to be done on that side of the house…
The manner in which we make decisions in life tells us a lot about ourselves. Some folks will make a quick, snap decision, like buying a plant or a new car, and be proud it was done so fast, but spend the next foreseeable future being disappointed or disgruntled by the too-quickly-chosen choice. Others will spend what seems to be hours looking at a menu at a restaurant, as though they were selecting their last meal, when the fact is, it’s just a meal. Which is right, and which is wrong? I’m not going to say – I just know the right way to decide something is my way, of course! As is the case for each of us – our deciding, whether that’s removing all that is not the angel, or rapidly snagging what is before us determines our future, but also our personality. My only hope is that whatever we decide, that it’s done intentionally, and thoughtfully, and in the end, that we decide. We can understand that in a given day we are offered thousands of choices, and not all are life-changing. The nicest thing is that in every instance, we always have a choice to make, always have a decision to make, and a future to cast. That’s part of the joy and excitement about being alive, and living a full life. Enjoy today’s choice and decisions – I’m sure you will make the right ones….
Word for the day: sagacious. Pronounced suh-GAY-shuss. I’ve always loved this word, which of course comes from the Latin. However, some folks think it flows out of the word “sage,” but it really is a different word altogether. Sage comes for the Latin, sapere, which is defined as “to taste, or to be wise.” A sage carefully considers what is before her or him, almost like tasting the situation before make a decision. “Sagacious,” however, is really from the word, sagacem which means “of quick perception,” also from the verb sagire, which is “to perceive keenly.” Someone who is sagacious is most likely different than a sage – they make quick good, perceptive decisions, where as a sage will sit on things for a while, letting the right decision come out of a slower, more deliberate deliberation. By the way, in the 17th century, a “sagacious” animal was one who had an acute sense of smell. They immediately sensed a meal, or whether they were going to become a meal themselves, and so acted quickly in either sense.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.