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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tale o' Two Shamrocks

This is a tale of two shamrocks. It began with one (a gift from a friend) which grew to the point where I finally divided it, filling a second pot with the curious little nubs, roots and clover-like leaves of this prolific plant.

The second plant never quite did as well as the first one. I didn’t really care because it was excess baggage anyway - vegetative scraps left over from the prized “Number One”. That one even had an official name, John F. Kennedy, so had a pedigree in a way I thought. I guess that name could also apply to the division, but I didn’t think of it in the same way.


Although I tried to care for the two plants equally, by the end of one summer, the second one was scrawny and peaked-looking. Since I considered it second-best anyway, I dumped it out of its pot and threw it on the compost pile in the backyard. It would not be a total waste that way I thought, and would at least be re-cycled into good, rich soil.

The long, rainy fall and winter passed. I don’t really remember what the winter was like that year, whether it was mild or cold and snowy. In any case, I’m not sure that it would have mattered. Inside, the prized shamrock went into its normal slump - dropping its leaves and shriveling back for its winter dormancy. I never gave the other one - alone and exposed to the elements - a thought.


Slowly, the days lengthened and moderated. At the slightest hint of spring, I charged outdoors to begin gardening chores. To me there is a sense of freedom and elation in the outdoors after several months of darkness and being cooped up inside. Early spring is an incredible time, with all living things building up to burst forth with new life after months of inactivity. The abandoned shamrock was no exception...


Sometime well into spring clean-up I found it. Hauling a load of winter-dead garden plants back to the compost pile, I caught sight of it just before flinging the debris right on top of it. What a sight! There, among the well-rotted vegetation, a healthy, luxuriant green shamrock flourished. It had survived the winter, pushed new roots deep into the rich, loamy earth, sprouted twice as many leaves as it had before and put forth a number of white trumpet-shaped blooms.


You can bet I dug that plant up again, carefully planting it back into a pot along with its nutrient-rich soil. Next to it, the previously prized plant now looked puny and anemic. I didn’t throw the first one out, but planted it purposefully along the house in a garden reserved for shade-loving plants. It continues to survive, though it grows and blooms sporadically. The second plant now has its time of glory in the house. I try to be attentive, water and fertilize it, and each time I look at it I’m reminded of the two shamrocks and their separate lives.


Like people, I think, and you just never know...

But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.
Mark4.20

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