Janet Hommel Mangas: Doing nothing

When we had family and friends over on Saturday before the race, a newcomer complemented our gardens, then asked seriously: “You have so many sitting areas, do you ever really sit in them?”

If you’re a gardener, you understand the answer was, “No, not as much as I’d like to.”

Although June 21 is technically the first day of Summer 2023, I’m pretending it’s today. Last evening the hubby and I ran inside after trying to wait-out a gushing downpour. After a surprise pop-up thunderstorm, our rain gauge read that we received nearly 2 inches of rain — my sister, Jerri, who lives five miles north of us, received mere sprinkles. I am quite sure it rained Wednesday because I spent three hours Tuesday watering sad-looking, newly-planted droopy trees.

So today, I am sitting.

I’m ignoring the (4) “Dark Side of the Moon’ Astilbe, (4) ‘Orange Gnome’ Maltese Cross, (6) ‘Pardon My Cerise’ Monarda didyma, (4) ‘Ragin Cajun’ Indian Pink, (2) ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ Nepeta and (2) ‘Sweet Kate’ Tradescantia.

We abandoned all the potted plants when the thunder and lightning arrived — instead the perennials received a refreshing pouring of rainfall. They actually look quite refreshed today, so I’m leaving them alone for a while longer.

I am attempting to practice the art of Niksen this morning. Niksen is the Dutch concept of doing nothing — “to be idle or doing something without any use.” One can practice Niksen by letting your mind wander or just looking out of a window. I’ve just been sitting in my garden for an hour or two.

But even when I’m still, my mind wanders. I watch the flight path of the honeybees coming in and out of the hives. I hear the rhythmic drumming of a pileated woodpecker drilling a nearby tree for her breakfast. I see two bluebirds flitting around the rock water fountain — taking a bath or just playing. Two bright orange orioles are delighted and have found the grape jelly and oranges at their private feeder.

In the nothingness and quiet of summer — I am thankful for our Creator.

Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to [email protected].