Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column


by Rev. John H. Farmer
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Growing spring into summer

Before I became such an antique, every March and April was a similar story: pushing things into the ground, hoping for a quick return of all things flora and fauna. Our yard is a hillside meadow that falls off to a low-lying marsh.

Early on we can claim to live upon a meadow. Our meadow is a short tapestry of weeds. Mind you, they are pretty weeds. Once an industrious chap even stopped and asked if he might kill all the weeds in our yard and replant the area with grass.

What an awful idea.

God planted our meadow, with the help of missionary winds and birds. No person could have constructed such a pattern beautiful. We have this purple ground cover (which wanders into all the wrong places), yellow buttercups, dandelions, wild onions and thousands of purple violets. All these colors, all these textures ooze up from the earth and spread quickly across our plot. By week’s end they will have reached height proportions such that the lady of the house will start asking Bro. Bryan to please bring by the crew.

He also has a vacuum strong enough to suck up piles of sweet gum balls and add them to our someday burn pile.

Anyway, far too soon John Deere Dear comes. Once the blade lowers it crew cuts the wild carpet. Before Bryan can park the mower wild onions will laughingly return; their short tufts of green the first to renew.

Dandelions too will escape the blade and thrust their yellow faces aloft. If you stand real still and quiet you can watch as the yellow turns to globes of white. Old men, not just children, love to pluck them and blow their seeds to the wind. Once a nosy drive-by gardener caught me woofing my dandelions. A day or too later we chatted at the Post Office in municipal Irvington. He commented that he had observed me as I was scattering those awful weed seeds all across my yard.

My response was, “I hope so and I love the yellow flowers.”

Our ground cover will be the first to leave and without chemical assistance I might add. The violets will stand fast until drier weather and punctuate the changing landscape. Wild grasses will sprout and with weekly manicuring the meadow will give way to a lawn. At first it will be dappled with blank spots. Dust will fly as the mower crawls back and forth. Later it will be a neat-tucked lawn yielded to the blade. Weekly discipline will encourage everything to stay at dress-right-dress. And from the drive-by views it will appear wonderfully green and well tended.

However, if the mower fails, or Bryan Keyser does, God will push and pull and the close-cropped yard will yawn and stretch a-tippy-toe toward the heavens.

We fight the episodic Virginia Department of Transportation mower crews that fail to tend the roadside line until we’d foolishly think they’ll not be back. Time to wade about the marsh and trim the margins. The state crews will stand off and watch as one plants this and that. They’ll wait until they see flowers blooming in the ditch and from nowhere they will march in and vacate our feeble efforts. Oh well…

We continue to search for low maintenance plants to stab into the ground around our fickle pond. Numerous underground springs, and the overflow from the Saunders farm next door, supply the pond.

During my yesteryear days the shallow spots would bridge and even tease the mower just enough to head off into the area. Just as you’d think you were safely across, wet hands grabbed the mower, yelling, “This is still a pond.” Then I’d have to hike back up to the house and beg my late black pick-up to help the preacher tug the mower loose from the disguised wetlands. The truck begrudgingly would accompany me back to the pond, mumbling under his breath, “how many times will I have to do this?” You can be sure of one thing—every time I got stuck all our friends, neighbors, church folk (especially Jimmy Bay Auto) would drive by and wave, slow down and hurl offers of assistance. Oft times neighbor Dave would just look over, fetch his truck and quickly rescue the embarrassed mower and preacher.

All my yard meanderings are now left to younger chaps. I have moved from laborer to observer! To keep me from harm, we’ve even given our personal John Deere mower to Junior Abbott to tend his Weems acreage.

Our visiting herd of deer has taught me that while I might like to have a vegetable garden they too love fresh produce. So our 2017 farmette will consists of a few pots of tomatoes and squash lined up on the concreted patio out back. One evening just last week, right at dusk, the herd came to call. As they gathered by the pool fence they nibbled their way across the yard. I do believe I saw them cast eyes towards the awaiting pots and whisper back and forth about how nice the tomatoes and berries would taste up off the ground and all…”

I truly love what God has given us to enjoy. I even love that I think my minuscule ministrations can improve my acreage. However, as I cast my eyes about I can see forest, meadows, wetlands and more, that He has planted without my help. Still I marvel at how beautiful is my meadow, until tradition yells: “cut the grass.”

Isn’t God wonderful? Green must be His favorite color.