Posts Tagged ‘next year’

Sunset, 2012The year comes to an end as the sun sets, a little brightness showing through the gray clouds. Isn’t that how it seems to go? So much bad news in the paper each day, so many sad stories online, so much anger and despair in the world. And yet still the light shines through, giving color and beauty, bringing hope. One year fades into the sunset, but dawn comes again with the brightness of a new day. Another chance. Let’s make the most of it.

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Indiana April 2009 040I pull on my soft, warm nightgown and slip into bed, snuggling under the covers. A comfortable drowsiness settles over me, as I turn off the light, ready for a good night’s sleep. However, the odds that I will wake in the morning rested and invigorated are slight. The fact is, I don’t generally sleep that well anymore. Something to do with getting older, I think. And yet, as I settle in for the night, I feel good. The anticipation outshines the reality.

I find the same concept applies to other areas of my life. I love looking through the seed catalog, planning my vegetable garden. Should I try a new variety of beans? Perhaps I should take another crack at broccoli. And how about a late pea crop this year? That might be fun to try. Planting brings renewed excitement. The freshly planted garden looks so beautiful with its neat rows and little green sprouts coming up here and there. I imagine it with mulch laid down between all the rows, squash tendrils reaching out across the straw, corn stalks reaching for the sky. The problem is I rarely get all the mulch out before the heat arrives. Then the weeds shoot up, and my energy level plummets. By the end of summer, I am likely to be digging through the weeds to find the vegetables.

Anticipation is a wonderful thing. It’s the vision that keeps us going through hard days of work, through long nights with a screaming baby, through sadness and pain and confusion. Because we anticipate the reward at the end—whether it be vacation or a rewarding career or a child grown into a fine young adult—we can keep going. Even if the reality never quite matches the vision.

Anticipation is hope, and hope is what gives life meaning. And so I plan the garden and put in my work hours, teach my Sunday school class and write these words, because I have a Hope that keeps me going—a Hope that whispers to me that someday the reality will far outshine the anticipation.

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Blackberries. When you hear the word, what is your first thought? If you are a techie, you may think of one of those portable computer/communicator things that so many now use. If you are older or a non-techie, you may recall the delicious sweetness of blackberry pie or jam. If you live in an area where blackberries actually grow, you may have different thoughts.

When I was a kid, my brothers and I would pick blackberries at the edges of our property, and our mom would bake a pie. Homemade blackberry pie is still my favorite, and I make it every summer. I make blackberry jam, too, and cobbler, and sometimes syrup. You see, blackberries grow well on our two acres. In fact, they grow too well.

The Himalayan blackberry is the plant equivalent of the house sparrow—a non-native species that has moved in and taken over. Blackberries are quite good at taking over. The ones on our property grow in masses reaching well over my head and stretching out in all directions. Overall, they must cover at least half an acre. My husband and I wage a perennial war against them. He likes to hack them down with a weed whacker (the non-power kind), pushing them out of the path and back from the garden. I, on the other hand, prefer poison.

Organic gardener that I am, I abandon all such principles when it comes to blackberries. I haul out the sprayer and fill it with Round-up or Crossbow, depending upon the season. Lugging it from front yard to back yard to garden edges, I cover the blackberry leaves with mist. The ones I can reach, that is. Then I watch over the next few days as the plants slowly turn brown and die. It is quite effective. If I had time, I might actually conquer the beast. However, I also must spend time cooking, cleaning, sleeping, and earning a living. And while my back is turned, the plant strikes back.

A few days away, busy with other things, and I return to see blackberry vines snaking out across the lawn and into the garden. New shoots push into the path, ready to trip the unwary. Much to my embarrassment, they have launched an attack on the neighbors’ yards as well, exposing my failure like a naughty child throwing a public tantrum. The realization sinks in: this will not be the year I conquer the blackberries.

However, hope springs eternal, no matter what the season. There is always next year. Next year I will keep the blackberries in line. I will stay ahead of the weeds in the garden. I will keep the house clean and get my office in order. Maybe I will even sell that children’s book I have revised so many times. I don’t know what I would do without the hope that next year provides.

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