After September 11, 2001...
why garden now? why flowers?
by Ruth S. Foster

What a difference this fall has made, so short a time yet it seems so long ago since we lost our innocence.

This year, the crisp fall weather with its ever reliable show of colors seems more than just the usual end of summer. So short a time since children played on the beach, and yet so long ago.

The red fiery leaves now seem a metaphor for the end of the summer of America - not just simple delights like our flowers and children, but the end of the youthfulness of our society.

Suddenly we find ourselves older, world-weary, like old cultures that have for millenniums endured wars, primitive beastliness and the uncertainty of an orderly life.

In World War II, when, each day brought sad news stories, everyone grew Victory Gardens for food (which was rationed) but also flowers, for in times of trial, the respite of some little beauty is sorely needed.

And so today, in our gardens, on our windowsills, we too need flowers to cheer and comfort us. As we water our plants, the repetitive chore provides familiarity and stability. We pick some flowers, harvest the fall vegetables, the last rose of summer. We gather wild goldenrod.

Simple chores anchor our lives, our days, our sanity in troubled times. We pluck our garden's joy.

Fall is always bittersweet for it ushers in the cold night of winter. But this year we do not go so gentle into that good night. So savor this fall's foliage while you grieve at its metaphor -- the end of our America's ebullient youthfulness, our irreverence, our play. For we feel much older than we were before September 11th.

And though not the fanciest nor the greatest, the best loved garden is still that in our own backyard. Why not plant some flowering bulbs for next spring in a place where you will see them each day - from a window or near the door you use most. We will surely still want flowers come spring.