Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gardens of My Mind

Earlier this evening I was trying to recall something from my distant past. There were only glimmers of the memory and they were as slippery as minnows.
I thought of the electrical energy that gives the brain life and illuminates our thoughts and memory. I began to consider light, how it reveals itself to us and how we reveal ourselves to it. The way we express what we really are by the things that catch our eye or stay in our memory. As I struggled with this I began to consider the physical makings of a memory. Of the neurons that hold them and the dendrites that connect them so that they resemble the most amazing system to ever exist. They are often referred to as resembling a tree but in truth the appearance I think is more that of roots. It is incredible to truly consider the elements which create who we and that they so closely resemble the same system of life used by the very plants that many of us cultivate in our gardens. Of course I don’t know what these little babies look like in the raw. I have only seen them through our technically advanced method of smoke and mirrors but with or without the fancy gear the structure remains the same. The trunk or neuron and the many dendrites forming the root system create the “plants” that populate the garden of our minds.

This evening I was searching for a particular plant that I knew was in the garden but it had been overgrown by other plants over the years which had spread out to block the sun and hog the nutrients. I knew it was still there because like a strongly scented plant I could still smell it wafting through the garden when the breeze was just right. Its growth was stunted and it lacked vitality but it was still alive.

I followed the scent of this memory back into the depths of the garden, carefully stepping aside the many flowers and heirloom plants that had found homes in the fertile soil. The deeper I went the more crowded the garden became. The scent of other memories began to distract me from the one that I sought. Soon the garden began to turn wild and overgrown with long neglected growth. There were the climbing roses that reminded me of my mother now tangled with ivies that represented my grief. The wild irises of my solitude spread deep and wide to create a barrier against the Shasta daisies of my trusting nature.

The light grew dim beneath a quiet fog of forgetfulness. Thick moss cushioned my steps as I approached an old and forgotten stone wall. It had been built years ago for reasons I can no longer remember and it was still strong and sturdy. The light filtered down through drafts of fog illuminating an ancient garden long forgotten. There along the heavy stones of the wall were bits and pieces of tiny plants long ago planted with the passion of a child only to be abandoned as the days grew long. Tiny plants which held so much promise, so much magic. Little markers with names once written in crayon now faded and illegible. I bent to my hands and knees for a closer look.

I could smell the rich earth of childhood and the tears that had once watered this bed. Here was one that had been hastily planted, not quite all the way in. There was another that was still in the pot, yet another that had been a gift and still wore the yellow ribbon it came with. Over near the corner stone of the wall lay several pots never planted. They had grown out of the bottoms and over the sides in spite of the neglect. There was a loose stone in the wall where a steady flow of water seeped out trickling down to the soil beneath. I saw a vile green bug there, from a time I’d rather not recall. I crushed it beneath my shoe. I knew there was another. Something large was growing behind the wall. There were gnarled branches that peaked over the top. I hadn’t come for that though. I was still looking for the plant whose scent I had followed all this way.

I walked along the length of the wall pausing here and there to visit the tiny forgotten plants. The light continued to battle the fog in that ancient garden as the plants fought to reach it. The fragrance I was seeking grew stronger and I began to push aside the detritus of so many years. The aroma of rich loamy earth began to give way to the cool mineral scent of lake water and minnows. I had found it.

The plant was small. It was undernourished and the root system was severely stunted. It didn’t seem to have grown since the day it was planted. It had not interacted with the rest of the eco system. It appeared to have never grown past the original dirt in its pot. It was exactly the same as it had been when it was planted except that it was weak from neglect. I would have to nurture this little watery neuron back to health if I was ever to see it blossom into its promise.

And this is where I began to think of neurons and dendrites. If our memories, our thoughts and feelings are made up of these elements that are so much like plants and trees then how do we become good gardeners? How do we stimulate the growth of the plants that we choose for the garden our mind? I ask myself if it is enough to simply allow the winds to seed my garden or do I take an active role selecting and nurturing a garden of my choosing. While I may have a gravel pit to work with I choose rearrange those rocks into a pleasing design to nurture the best versions of the plants that I have. I will nourish those plants until they have grown strong healthy roots. And I will wait patiently because I planted these plants once and I would like to see the flowers of promise that I believe they can produce.


  1. LeSan,
    Damn, you are good. I just can't get over the images you left in my brain with all these stone walls, knarled branches and memories.
    If you only saw all the stuff I just deleted. I have a hard time leaving comments, and that is because you are such an articulated person and I feel like my comments are very insignificant. Just know that I love reading your blog. :)

  2. Beautiful writing. The shots with the sunlight filtering into the garden are just gorgeous.

  3. What a creative post. I had not thought of the similarities that our minds (memories) have in common with gardening. I need to work on stimulating my mind and I work on fertilizing my garden.

  4. Your pictures are so pretty and go so well with your writing. Isn't it interesting how much of our life and memories can be compared with a garden.

  5. ROSEY~ Please don't ever stop leaving your comments. They are always wonderful and treasure them so much. I'll have you know that I am always in an anxious fit when I hit send on these posts. As soon as I hit the button I think to myself "well there it goes, now they're going to know I'm crazy." Your comments let me know that at least I am not alone in my crazy. It's good to have friends. LOL

    HOCKING HILLS~ Thank you so much for saying that. Your words mean a great deal to me. We get great fog up here. I think we are at a very fortunate angle for the fog and sunlight to play. And then I am very lucky to have a camera that doesn't require me to have actual photog skills. Love that technology!

    PATCHWORK~ Thank you Linda for stopping by to visit. I love the river bed you laid out at your place. It looks great.

  6. LeSan visiting you this way with your chosen music, beautiful images... your first watery one and the foggy ones are other worldly merging so completely with your moving words... is such a delight. I love your writing... deeply thought and felt. I was just reading somewhere how we are just as plants or trees all of these... may your flowers keep their promises always... in the garden of your mind and near your rocks. Carol

  7. CAROL~ That was such a moving and lovely comment you wrote. Thank you so much. I especially loved this line of your's "...may your flowers always keep their promises." That was absolute poetry!

  8. Oh LeSan, your writing is a joy to read - as thought provoking and beautiful as ever. It lifted my mood today and your photos lightened my heart .....thank you so much, I needed that.

  9. Another great one LeSan! Reading your posts is like reading a good novel. Very creative, full of feeling and thought. The pictures are gorgeous, too. I particularly enjoyed the foggy ones with light drifting through. Keep on writing!

  10. Beautiful pictures with prose to match. Thanks for sharing!!!

  11. NUTTY GNOME~ I don’t think I can tell you how pleased I am that you actually understood that. I just know that one of these days I am going to hit send and confirm all suspicions that I have indeed lost my mind. LOL
    Thank you for lifting my spirits. I too, needed that.

    MISS DAISY~ Thank you from the foggy bottom of my heart. Your comment is so encouraging to me. It is because of people like you that I keep hitting send. Of course that also means that we all know who to blame when the time comes. Heheh

    EILEEN ASTELS~ Thank you so much for stopping in and especially for leaving such a lovely comment. I do hope that you visit again soon!

  12. Dear LeSan ~ Words are your element! I am so glad you have blossomed as you have. What you have is a gift. Oh to be able to write what I feel like you do.


  13. FLOWERLADY Thank you so much for saying that. You are such a lovely lady and I am so glad to be your friend.

  14. Wow, LeSan,
    That was a beautiful post, both the writing and photos! I am still mulling it around in my mind. Since I seem to have memory problems lately, I'm wondering what I can do to nurture those dendrites and such.