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Summer’s brazenness fleshes out in marigolds—reds, oranges, golds, and yellows—drought-resistant annuals that have brightened my front garden for years. With proper care, a single bloom can last for several days boasting in the sun; its inevitable shriveling and browning slows down its gossip until silenced by pruning shears: Snip-snip-snip. Within a few days, more buds jostle in breezes until full flowering picks up July’s chuckles and their chatter resumes.

Taught by gardeners to angle my shears for strategic cuts, I snipped away, summer after summer, tingling with creative energy as new shapes appeared among the plants, soon to plump out with buds. But my present circumstances have led me to put away my shears and let another help with the marigolds. I’m grateful.

My own pruning is well underway, and I live within the shorn limits of my eighty-four years; within them, I continue flourishing, not without occasional squalls of fear: eruption of new symptoms from Dexamethasone, the correction of dark dreams, episodes of nausea, spills, and so much more—all of which prompt me to ask for help, critical for the continuing effectiveness of the pruning. How else learn about humility?

Such deepens my faith in the Master Gardiner who reminds us in John 15:2 that Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

It is for this fruit that I yearn.


The summer’s drought, like a merciless thief, stole life from three flats of marigolds enhancing the front of my home. Each dusky plant drew sorrow as I plucked it up, examined its withered roots, then tossed it into the waste barrel. To no avail was watering, fertilizing, pruning, and praying. Powerless to effect change, I let them go. The heat continued …

Then I went on vacation, leaving my scorched grass and derelict flower beds to whatever ….

It rained, several times, so the Boston Globe reported.

In my absence, new greening blanketed my lawn. Ten marigold plants – yellows, oranges, and golds – had survived the summer-long thievery. With more rain, they continue trumpeting their glory to the warming sun. The thief is long gone and I can breathe again.

So in letting go, new life happens, a lesson I repeatedly have to learn.

front flower bed

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