Thursday, June 25, 2015


Wearily, I put my foot on the spading fork and dug deep, lifting up the rich, dark soil along with a good-sized clump of small, white bulbs with narrow leaves and bright blue flowers still attached.  Ahead of me in this bed was a sea of blue. I had my work cut out for me.
The Spanish bluebell or Wood hyacinth is a spring-flowering bulbous perennial native to the Iberian Peninsula. Like many other plants, it was carried away from its native land by well-meaning people and is now found world-wide, including here in western Washington. Although it appears to behave itself in many places, it tends to run rampant in our area; with moderately good soil and fair amounts of water, it takes over.

When we moved here thirty five years ago, we discovered these lovely beauties among the plants that the previous owners had planted. I remember them always blooming around the time of our son's early May birthday. I enjoyed them so much that I eagerly transplanted them to many places in our yard.

But this innocent-appearing plant naturalizes to the point of killing everything else and takes shelter under and around roots of shrubs and trees. The bulbs connect to others underground by tendrils, and also by adding tiny seed-sized bulbs around themselves at the same time. When the flowers dry, round hard seeds form and you can have hundreds of new hardy seeds flying around your beds, yard, and neighborhood where they readily self-sow. They survive beyond belief, and although they can grow densely, their thin leaves allow all kinds of weeds in your beds anyway. They just became too much of a good thing and I finally made the decision to get rid of them. All of them - and those bulbs must be removed by hand.

They remind me of the many possessions we all seem to accumulate as we go through life. It begins with things we need, which becomes things we want, and then morphs into things we think we have to have and can't live without. Toy boxes overflow, closets become crammed, garages have no room for cars, and before we know it we need to rent extra storage units to hold all our stuff. Like the ubiquitous Spanish bluebells, our possessions gradually take on a life of their own and quietly take over our lives. Before we know it, our possessions own us.

Like digging up the bluebells, it takes hard work to disentangle ourselves from our belongings. It seems we spend much of our lives working to accumulate things and as we reach that "certain age" - if we are wise - some of us work at ridding ourselves of them. "You can't take it with you." they say, but some of us try very hard to do just that.

Today, our flower bed is nearly clear of those lovely Spanish bluebells. It's taken me several months of digging to get the majority of those bulbs and I expect more time is needed to complete the job. Still, I will not be surprised if some of them pop up next spring.

We are down-sizing and unloading possessions also and the effort is similar. In both instances, the results are the same - peaceful, uncluttered space - in the garden, in the house, in our bodies, minds, and souls.

Will I miss those bluebells and possessions I've parted with? In some fleeting moments I'm sure I will, but the memories are locked away in my heart and mind. At the end of our lives - and I'm not there yet - it's said that all we really have left is our memories. Uncluttering our lives simply leaves more room for all those wonderful memories...
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, who is good and pleasing and perfect.  1 Romans 12:2

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9    

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