I did not think I’d be in a hurry to take down all the decorations with which we’d so carefully decked our halls, but it turns out I’m more excited about the fresh start this next year promises than I am about allowing Christmas to linger. Little by little, seasonal treasures are returning to their resting place while the nooks and crannies of our tiny apartment palace get a proper polishing in hopes of a clean and bright beginning to 2021.

One of the gifts I’d purchased for the family is a Stendig Calendar, which is something I’ve wanted to acquire for years and yet I never manage to remember that I want one until it’s too late and they’ve sold out for the year. Sitting at the kitchen table, dressed in my new fluffy slippers and new cozy robe, sipping coffee from my new favorite mug, staring at my new giant wall calendar for a (new) year that has yet to begin, I thought about how certain I was that 2020 would be a transformational year for me, personally.

I was not wrong.

Of course, none of it happened the way I had thought it would. Yet, much of what has indeed come to pass aligns closely with what I’d set out to accomplish this year. And it isn’t because I stuck to my plans in spite of how the world shifted, it is because I allowed my plans to shift in response to the world. Which means that what I ended up with isn’t exactly what I’d envisioned, but it’s exactly what I’m meant to have.

Perhaps the best example I can offer is this: at the beginning of quarantine, I decided that I’d grow a small container garden on our urban balcony. I carefully selected seeds and sprouted them on our table, nurturing their tender shoots as they emerged from beneath the soil. But despite all of my best efforts, I simply could not get any of these plants to thrive. Eventually I gave up on trying to sprout my own seeds and purchased some organic vegetable starts, and one tomato plant already potted in its own container.

This went on for months, from mid-March until late August. Some rascally animal left its teeth marks in flesh of the singular tomato that had managed to not only grow but also almost ripen, and finally I let the entire thing go to seed. I left the containers on the balcony and resolved to try again next spring.

Sometime in mid-October, I noticed a funny little sprout on one of my indoor plants and stuck it in a small glass of water because I’d once read something about propagating tropical plants. After a week or two little roots began to grow into the water but once I put it in some soil, it shriveled immediately.

I tried again. Water. Roots. Soil. Shrivel.

Now mid-November had arrived, along with a sprout on both a pothos and a spider plant. Into the water they went. I decided to leave them in the water to see how long they could last.

It had been well over a month. The roots of these sprouts had grown so long that even the roots had roots. The leaves on each of the plants were green and firm and the spider plant had steadily produced more leaves so it had almost doubled in size.

After locating two pint sized plastic planters with drainage holes (invariably left over from two of the ill-fated vegetable starts), I carefully filled each with damp soil, and placed the sprouted plants into the prepared containers. It’s been almost 24 hours and not only is there no sign of shriveling, the pothos unfurled a brand new leaf.

As he was crawling into bed last night, Roux noticed the two plants on my dresser and asked if they were my “baby plants,” as they’d come to be called when they were newly sprouting in the water. When I told him that yes, they were in fact my baby plants, his eyes lit up and he offered me a squeeze while saying with delight, “Mama, you ARE a gardener!”

He is not wrong.

The garden I grew this year may not be the one that I planted, but it is the one I tended after it had sprouted. And it is thriving.