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Are You Looking for Enough Water to Bloom in the New Year?

I’m a fan of bulb gardens in the winter.

I take vases, antique bowls and baskets and turn them into little islands of happiness to combat the often-dreary days of winter.

Garden stores carry the bulbs in the fall.

I buy amaryllis, jonquils, and tulips. (I’m not a fan of narcissi, also known as paper-whites. They’re tall and leggy, like a twelve-year-old model on the cover of Vogue, and they have a nasty smell. The flowers I mean, not the models.) I know most people grow bulbs during the holidays, but I save mine for when I really need them: those dark days of January and February.

Then they go into a labeled paper bag.

Because as I get older, it’s hard to remember what’s in there if I don’t. Once all the bulbs are safely in the bag, so to speak, I put them in the dark for a few months so they can “harden.”  

When I take them out in early January, they’re shedding and all shriveled up.

They look like a vagabond’s suitcase. You’d never guess life could be coaxed from one. Nor would you expect beauty to spring up from something so ugly. I grow my bulb gardens in river rock instead of soil, so their roots have something to cling to as they reach for the light. It keeps them from falling over and scaring the cat.

The secret to growing a bulb garden is water.

Careful watering is the secret to growing a beautiful bloom from a shriveled bulb.

Too much water and the bulbs will rot. Too little and they won’t have enough energy to bloom. But place just a trickle of water under their “feet,” and new roots begin to emerge. Then a shoot of green will force its way up to the light.

A bulb has everything it needs to bloom deep inside itself.

That’s why it doesn’t need soil, or even sunlight. Bulbs store the summer sun so they can be ready to bloom again. A bulb is nature’s most masterful solar battery.

But this year, I’m feeling like a shriveled up bulb.

I think that’s understandable. It’s been a darker winter than usual, hasn’t it. The pandemic, again, kept us from family and holiday celebrations. From meals with friends and worship. Lord, how I miss worship.

We run around like masked bandits, trying to stay at a safe distance from people we barely recognize anymore. It’s so easy to get dried out from loneliness and the unending caution. Yet we dare not stop our vigilance now. The virus is still winning and our vaccines are a springtime hope. There’s a lot of suffering left to endure.

But it’s the New Year!

The New Year! A traditional time of rebirth; a time to try on something new, kick an old habit, take that new job. It’s time to bloom!

You’re more ready than you think!

Deep inside, you already have what you need to bloom. The trick is to find the situations and people that will give you the right amount of water.

Not everyone helps you bloom.

Some people give you so much water you begin to rot inside. (Have you ever seen a Helicopter Parent in action?) Others are too stingy, offering little or no encouragement or, worse yet, they belittle your possibility. 

But then there are people who truly believe in you.

It’s as if they know exactly how much watering you need! Somehow, they can see inside your leathery shell and they know you’re ready to burst. And they know that when you do, you’ll be amazing.

Yes, some people trickle just the right amount of water at your feet.

I’ve found the kinds of people who care about your blooming (which is not ALWAYS the same as caring about you) watch to see when you’re thirsty. They notice your droopy leaves. They have this way of providing encouragement at just the right time, in just the right way.

Places and situations can help us find the right trickle of water, too.

I often pass mountain streams in the highlands on my walk. Some have a kind of sweet, wild music that fills the air as I pass. They make me feel like blooming! Because there they are, way up a mountain pass, where no one can hear them, singing for no other reason than the fact that they can.

What songs does your heart long to sing?

In this New Year, how much water do you need?

Are you thirsty for friendliness after the animosity of the election rhetoric? Time to get off Facebook. Do you need an encouraging new friend or perhaps a savvy mentor? Or, would quiet bring just the right amount of water to your life? Perhaps you’d enjoy solitude on a hiking trail or maybe you’d like to get lost among the species in an arboretum? Is there a book that would water your thirsty soul? If so, why not buy it?

You are a rare creature.

You bloom best when gently watered. In a New Year when winter’s darkness may press upon us as never before, I invite you to find the trickle of water you need so that your life can burst forth and be made new again!