Mistaken Identity

What are you? And how did you get here?

Earlier this spring, I noticed a large leafed plant growing right where our gazebo used to be. Last year, we tore down my side yard retreat to create a parking place for our boat. That plan didn’t work as we had hoped, so we took the boat back to a storage lot, and the space next to the house was sadly barren.

The plant looked familiar. Was it a rhubarb leaf? I convinced myself that it had to be one. My reasoning meandered back to the garden that used to be next to the gazebo. One spring I had planted rhubarb, but it never matured, nor materialized. I guessed that maybe some critter buried the rhubarb root under the gazebo.

I noticed the plant in March, just about the time of the stay at home order. Since I was at home, why not plant a garden, where the gazebo once stood? I dreamed of strawberry rhubarb pie.

I borrowed my mom’s electric roto-tiller. Pleased with freshly furrowed soil, I fashioned a fence out of screening and bamboo stakes. I even equipped it with a makeshift gate. When the garden shops opened, I braved my first outing armed with face mask and gloves. I bought seeds and plants for my miniature garden. Planting herbs in an abandoned dresser drawer, gathering lawn ornaments to give some artistry to the plot, I gladly occupied myself with hopes of fresh vegetables and cut flowers for this summer.

As the rhubarb plant grew, something seemed amiss. Instead of spreading out, and the stems reddening, it just grew taller and more prickly. I asked my mom about it, and she suspected it was a weed called burdock. I did further investigation; it was not rhubarb. It was a case of mistaken identity.

At first, I was disappointed, but then I realized if I had identified the plant correctly, most likely I wouldn’t have pursued planting the garden. The tilling, the plotting and the planting brought me so much joy. And to be honest it’s been one of my best efforts at a garden. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere. I just can’t put words to it. All I know is my mistake led to an abundance of unexpected joy and lots of plants to tend and occupy my hopes and dreams this summer and into autumn. I’ve got marigolds, beets and hollyhocks to make into dye. I have zinnias for flower arranging, and herbs to add flavor to my meals. And soon eggplant, cukes and zucchini to eat.

See my Instagram feed for photos of the garden, as it progresses.

They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.

Ecclesiastes 5:20 NIV

4 thoughts on “Mistaken Identity

  1. Ah, yes, there surely is a lesson in this! I take your one statement and cut it into parts, inserting blanks to fill in from my own life–like this: “If I had identified the__________ correctly, most likely I wouldn’t have pursued ___________. The______, the ______, the ________ brought me so much joy.” What a wonderful turn of perspective on past regrets! I find it’s so true: “My mistake led to an abundance of unexpected joy.” Thank you much for this.

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