During this time of year in the nation's heartland, every garden store and nursery should be required to display a large and inherently noticeable warning sign, saying something to the effect of "Beware! Winter Ennui Helps Us Empty Your Pockets!"
Like other Flint Hill and Midwestern gardeners, I've taken to browsing local centers regularly, drawn irresistibly to find those early seed-starting supplies, house plants, and bird-feeding supplies that allow me to pretend I'm doing something for the garden in the dead of winter. And of course, also like other gardeners, I have the ulterior motive of needing to make sure that others don't beat me to those first few packets of seeds that arrive in the stores, lest some rare and treasured find disappear before I can purchase it.
At such times, I'm unfortunately at extreme risk of impulse purchases, a realization that was reinforced recently when, on a trip to Omaha, I visited what has become my prime source of statuary. There, I simply was unable to resist the Totally Zen Frog pictured to the right. Although this errant-Methodist youth does not practice meditation or Zen, I've always had some admiration for those who do, as well as a soft spot for the quiet calm of the philosophy. Therefore, forgetting that my garden really does not have any other whimsical focuses, nor that I really don't appreciate of whimsy in any form, garden or otherwise, I was sure that this Zen Frog was meant specifically to live in my garden. That belief was hardly weakened when I found that this particular identical statue sells all over the Internet and probably lives in thousands of other gardens.
If you sense I'm a bit disappointed in myself, you would be correct. Until now, I've successfully resisted adding pink flamingos, TraveloCity Gnomes, and other cliches to my garden. Okay, there is one of my rabbit statues that is dressed in a suit like a gentlemen caller, but I swear that all the other rabbits are strictly natural in form. Then along comes the Zen Frog and I fall, hook, link, and sinker. The webbed feet got me. Please don't tell Mrs. ProfessorRoush because I slipped it into the garden with all the furtiveness of a philandering husband. The Frog has been in my garden over a week and she hasn't asked about it yet. By now she probably thinks of these hunks of concrete collectively as "his statues," perhaps with a slight indulgent smile, and she has hopefully stopped counting the statues and the money spent on them, so there is a chance she'll glance over it. And if a little more time goes by before she sees it and a few bird droppings adorn it, I might be able to successfully convince her that it has been in the garden for years.
For now, I've placed it on the bench in the center of my "formal" rose garden on a bench, surrounded by the melting snows, but I doubt this will be a permanent spot for the creature. I've got a vision of it placed on a pedestal across from a meditation seat made for myself from two large flat stones (one for the seat and one for the back). A sort of a mirror meditation spot in my garden where I will perhaps be enticed to sit, relax, and enjoy the garden, hidden from the neighbors who'll think I've gone senile. Sitting is about all I'll do, however, since I'm getting to old to make it into the Lotus position and further experential enlightment is probably a hopeless quest for me. Besides, I'm not sure that the smug smile on the frog's face is conducive to my inner tranquility, especially since I'm also not convinced that the frog isn't giving each passersby, or me, "the finger."