Every summer I volunteer at the courtyard garden of Prince County Hospital, working with a team to tend the garden for the enjoyment of patients, staff and visitors. The last time as I volunteered, my mind wandered as it often does.
The plants understand. Those which live in the hospital garden know full well the cycle of life. It surrounds them in the courtyard where their own dramas play out. They also witness it through the windows inside the hospital rooms.
The stairs, behind glass, always attract the attention of the plants too. They watch as a young man runs up, taking two steps at a time. He almost collides with a nurse as he rounds a corner.
The irises have seen this before. They know the next day that same man will get off the elevator with a young woman in a wheelchair, carrying a bundle in her arms. The plants also know they’ll be back to do this again.
They’ve listened as an older woman in a wheelchair was assisted into the garden by that same young man. She wanted to feel the sun on her face again, see the rhododendron in bloom and hear the robins. She spoke of love as the young man listened and spoke the same.
Love is strange to the plants. They hear the word but don’t understand. Could love be how they feel when the sun shines or when it rains and they’re thirsty? Is it how they feel when humans help and admire them? Whatever it is, it or something like it, draws people to this courtyard, day after day, season after season, year after year.
Shasta the daisy nodded. “There goes another one running up the steps,” she said.