I looked out the window one morning to see a soccer ball, like a black and white gazing ball, on the ground beside the garden shed. Maybe because I’d recently been thinking about Basho’s influence on me, the scene inspired this haiku:
A still soccer ball
Hiding beneath iris leaves—
How I love my boys!
Sometimes I’m startled when I see a toy rhino lying on its side in a flower bed. I mistake it for a dead mouse! Other times I step on toy dinosaurs that have wandered far from their home in the sandbox. When I’ve just returned from a garden tour, where every yard on display is perfect, these stray toys bother me a little. Most days, I just embrace the chaos. The toys mean my sons are enjoying the outdoors. And, if my children are outside, I get to be in the garden too!
Our yard isn’t large, but seen through little boys’ eyes, it is a jungle to explore. Sometimes when my eldest son’s friend skips across the alley, they dig large holes beneath the Crepe Myrtles’ canopy. Do you remember the thrill of “digging to China”? Just watching them makes me almost physically recall the butterflies of anticipation in my stomach. I’m so enchanted, I forget to remind them to put the shovels back in the shed.
But isn’t garden art supposed to add beauty? The shovels sticking up like mushrooms, the mouse-colored rhino, the prehistoric herd lurking in the grass, the balls (so many balls!) are beautiful to me. Warmed from the same sunlight that glints off my boys’ golden hair, they hold the sound of children’s laughter. Coated in “playdirt,” they remind me of my sons’ fingernails—the hands that are learning to love the earth and what grows from it.
Annoying stray toys? Only when my perspective is off-kilter. Truly, they are the whimsical art of childhood, filling the garden with proof that it is serving its purpose.