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Our miraculous world is a busy place; our environment is crowded with things to see and experience; our lives are sometimes overcrowded with activity, worry and responsibility.
People have numerous ways of finding a few moments of peace and serenity during the day. Some prefer early morning when life and creation are fresh and new; others can find their time of quiet and calm at midday; still others like day’s end, a time to collect thoughts from the day’s business and frenzy.
There are as many ways and places to find reprieve from the hectic world as there are people. My place happens to be sitting in our backyard at dusk, waiting for our four solar lights to pop on and contemplating on the events of the day.
In our backyard, our vegetable garden provides something to think about, look at and take pride in. Most of the labor invested in this garden is done by my husband, Fred, but I help harvest and prepare our vegetables for our summer table.
Sitting by the garden at dusk, thinking about what needs to be done for maintenance and planning meals from its produce all have a way of relieving stress and diverting thoughts from more serious issues, at least for a while.
Near the vegetable garden are flowering plants that provide joy and diversion. Our precious peonies are there, although they are past this year’s blooming season. That is all right, however, because memory of the huge pink and white blooms of May are still fresh. Coneflower is blooming at the time of this writing, with pedals pointing downward, making the flower really look like a cone that comes back every year a few feet from our faithful rhododendron that has also finished its showy blooming for this year.
Stargazer lilies are scattered all around and provide beauty as well as that unmistakable scent in summertime. Numerous other plants show off right there near the vegetable garden and make their own statements in their season.
But the garden element that draws Fred and me to find peace and reflection time at dusk is our newest acquisitions, four hand-blown solar lights, made of lovely stained glass. About the size of oranges, the lights are posted on stainless-steel rods and reside as neighbors with the vegetables and flowering plants.
These four artsy glass bulbs collect solar energy all day and pop on at dusk, one at a time, in the same order each day. The order of their popping on must have something to do with the angle of the sun and the amount of energy they collect during the daylight hours.
Each bulb pops on at its own time, and the light inside the bulb changes color in each bulb every 10 seconds or so, first red, then magenta, purple, green, yellow, blue and orange in a mesmerizing light show from the time they come on until the battery runs out of energy some time during the wee hours of the morning. Tonight the first came on at 8:32, followed by the others at 8:34, 8:38 and finally 8:42. We have yet to stay up long enough to determine how long the stored-up solar energy will keep them shining and forever changing color.
My chair is positioned about six feet from the lights, and beyond them are the peonies, clematis, iris, liriope, coneflower and stargazer lilies. Just a little farther the squash, okra, beans, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes hold their own.
Lots of backyards have vegetable gardens; lots of yards have flowering plants; solar lights are catching on in people’s yards. What is different about our backyard is that it is ours, the result of our design and work and the fact that the combination of wonders that we enjoy help us find peace and reflection in our own space.
At dusk when the lights come on, we reflect on our day: what went well, what else might have been accomplished, what we have to be thankful for, how the simplest things can often bring the most pleasure and how each day brings its own stresses and serenity.
The only thing that might make me happier about our little vegetable-flower-solar-light reflection space would be if the lady’s slippers had come back in our flower space in the spring. That did not happen this year, so I will be content to sit, watch, reflect, think, be thankful that there is a balm in Gilead, so to speak; there is a way to rest at day’s end, even if the time be brief.
As I write now, I am in the house, yet I can look our the window and see the lights forever shining and changing, using up the stored energy from today’s sun and promising to do the same tomorrow evening at day’s end.
Vegetables, flowers and solar lights: they are all keepers for peace and serenity at day’s end.
Sanda Baucom Hight is retired from Wilson County Schools after serving as an English teacher and is currently a substitute in Wilson County. Her column focuses on the charms of home, school and country life. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.