In a large, oval-shaped dish that once belonged to a slow-cooker and is now filled with potting soil, I have a small garden. It gets light from west and north windows at one corner of our house. My garden boasts a stand of “trees,” three or four stems of a delicate, feathery fern, now grown
to a height of four inches. Moss from north of our big evergreens is, of course, my garden’s lawn. Over a pocket-mirror pond stands a footbridge purchased along with a few other miniatures from a supply company. Although there is a whole industry built up around “fairy gardens,” my project has cost me less than twenty dollars.
Lining the curved wall are rocks, each with a small sign telling from where it came—brought home to me by my children from their travels. The garden’s sign says, “Small World Garden; visitors welcome.”
Oh, and I must mention one more piece: a painted wooden boy or girl less than an inch tall. He or she stands on the bridge, a pilgrim with walking stick in hand.
I think my garden is now complete, made of the elemental things: earth, water, stone, grass, trees. What more could be needed? It has a bench for restful solitude, a bridge for life’s ordinary transitions, a pathway, and at the last, a gate opening to the big wide world and human company. All this is the stuff of dreams and myths, I realize.
My guess is that there is a human impulse to create such little worlds with ourselves in charge. This is why children at the beach make sand castles, and why quaint villages spring up on the mantel at Christmastime, and why snow globes exist. The worlds of our imagination are as we would like them to be.
All the same, it is the real world that needs our attention. At the post office the other day, a friend said to me, “I’ve been watching the news too much.” And we agreed that there is too much of pain and sadness all around. Today, therefore, may I do no harm; rather, may I do some good, however small it seems.