Peggy Hansen: Gardens

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Gardens are a joy and a burden with lessons to teach about humanity. Peggy Hansen has this Perspective.

They’re not my favorite flower, not even close, though they are quite beautiful. I keep them and care for them because they were a gift, entrusted to me by my mother some years before she died. Over the decades, I’ve moved a few times, and each time I’ve dug up the rhizomes and carried them with me to wherever I landed.

Looking around the new landscape, I’d select a likely spot, replant them, and wait–and hope. They took a while to get established, but each spring, my garden was alive with irises, delicate and fierce just like she was. In each new place, they’d gradually begin to flourish and bloom more and more extravagantly every year. Whenever I see them, I think about my mother.

I think, too, about Afghanistan, and Syria, and Haiti, and all the other places in our troubled world that give rise to streams of refugees, millions with no option but to leave the only home they’ve known. Often they leave with only what they’re wearing, or perhaps a single sack to hold a life’s memories, dreams, and treasures. How do you choose what goes in the sack, and what you must abandon? How do you leave behind a country, a history, perhaps a family, not knowing where you’ll next find welcome, much less home?

Flowers are a luxury, to be sure, and having a garden in which to plant them even more so. A garden signals hope, and faith, and a belief in a future that holds crops, or shade, or even pretty flowers. But a garden also embodies duty and dedication, and reminds us not to be complacent, or take for granted the stability it signifies. So many are uprooted, searching, and desperate for refuge.

We owe it to them–and to ourselves–to remember their humanity, and our own.

With a Perspective, I’m Peggy Hansen.

Peggy Hansen is an organic gardener and photographer in Santa Cruz.

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