Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper


By Mary Ann Hughes
Mary Ann Hughes' grandson watches as workmen take down a large river birch tree. Submitted photo by Mary Ann Hughes.

Late last fall, my neighbors took down a 70-year-old river birch tree near our property line.

It was a really big deal. I set up a chair near a window in my second-story bedroom so that my grandson could watch the process.

It took a day, and it was fascinating to see the workers climb dangerously high out on tree limbs. We watched as the heavy limbs were severed from the trunk, and then we held our breath as they swayed wildly while being lowered to the ground.

At the end of the day, when the work was done, I went out in my back yard to survey the damage. I had a garden that was filled with large plantain lilies, snow white Annabelle hydrangeas and coral bells given to me by my husband’s grandmother.

As I stood and looked at the garden, I knew that everything was gone. Hundreds of pounds of wood had dropped on the land, and I believed in my heart that nothing could survive the onslaught.

I mentioned something to my neighbor, and in the nicest Southern gentlemanly voice, he assured me that “they will all come back.”

I whispered, “No, they won’t.” He offered to replace what I had lost.

I think I was on a pilgrimage this winter. In the darkest part of that journey, when the days were cold and short and grey, I was sad. Sad at losing my sweet garden.

In March, my grandson and I started studying the flower beds, looking for signs of plants awakening. We spotted the early growth of peonies and phlox and purple iris. I kept an eye on my garden on the south, but nothing seemed to be appearing. Our weekly walks produced more and more sightings, but not much from the garden that I believed I had lost.

And then one day, I spotted a bit of green. And then, a few days later, more green! And then, under the shade of an old dogwood tree, the garden exploded.

Today, everything is back. The plantain lilies look so strong. So do the hydrangeas. And the coral bells are producing buds.

I think it’s going to be a glorious summer!

I think we’ve all been there. Huge trauma causes us to recoil into ourselves, and sometimes we aren’t sure we will ever recover. Sometimes, it takes a very long time. Sometimes, we almost give away our hope.

But then one day it happens. We realize that we are going to be fine. And so we are!

Thanks be to God!