It is often said that gardeners are the most optimistic of people. Most readers are probably familiar with the famous Audrey Hepburn quote “ To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”. There are many other observations remarking on how anyone who puts a seed in the ground and expects it to grow into a mighty oak is a true optimist and believer in miracles.
I generally agree that gardeners are optimistic believers in miracles, and I know that gardeners are hard workers who persevere against the odds and the elements to create the outcome they imagine. Until recently I had thought these beliefs of mine were confined to the garden. However, a week ago my 22 month old, 7 lb Maltese dog, Poppy, ran away. She was lost for 4 days and nights, in a neighborhood with coyotes and Fishers, through temperatures that went to 0 F and a severe winter storm that dumped inches of snow and paralyzed the Northeast.
I found her on Valentine’s Day. After 4 days and nights of constant search, in the end I looked around a bunch of hemlocks in a yard that had been searched three times before in the previous two days, and there she was, just standing there, dirty, wet, tired and scared but looking at me straight in the eye with an expression that was half “I’m so glad to see you” and half “where have you been”. I bent down, held out a piece of hot dog and she came right into my arms.
Like a garden, Poppy survived the odds; the harsh weather, carnivorous predators, unusually cold temperatures, lack of food, shelter or care and the poor statistics of lost animals being reunited with their owners (about 16% I read on one recovery website). But like the mighty oak that grows from a tiny seed, Poppy sits here on my lap in defiance of the odds to remind me, and you, I hope, never to give up, to believe in and to persevere to create the outcome you seek to achieve. It’s fitting Poppy is named after a flower.