I sip my coffee at dawn while looking out at what promises to be a beautiful day. The light is soft, as if it were filtered to help sleepy eyes transition from the darkness of night to daybreak. Tender green leaves have sprouted from buds on the tree branches that etch the skyline. On the ground, tightly-rolled hosta and lily of the valley shoots peek out from the rich, dark earth. In a few weeks, they too will burst open and their leaves will reach for warmth of the sun or the refreshing feel of a gentle rainfall.
Our region has been enjoying unseasonably hot, dry weather – ideal for dabeners like me. Dabener: One who dabbles in gardening. I made the word up but it fits me perfectly. In the spring, I’m ecstatic to be let loose in the outdoors after a long, cold winter. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I revel in digging in the dirt. When the humidity and mosquitoes arrive, my enthusiasm quickly fades. But for today – and hopefully for a few weeks to come – I can be a happy dabener.
By late afternoon, the hard, bright sunlight of mid-day softens again and the heat begins to dissipate. I kneel in the shade by a flower bed, the soothing scent of cedar mulch wafting in the air around me. My hands are deep in the earth as I prepare the ground for two new plants: a white bellflower and a ruby bell. With a little luck – actually make that a lot of luck – by summer they will bloom and add a splash of color to the garden.
For a moment, as I dig I feel my fingers become roots that lengthen and run like tree roots in an underground network that is a marvel of nature. There are no wires, no server, no cloud or websites – only my hands buried in the mystery of a universe that, when stripped of man’s intervention, is still as beautiful as it is simple. For a moment, I am connected to the earth and to the sky, a part of the magic of that universe. Then the moment passes and I am just a dabener doing her best to create a little piece of paradise in her backyard.