In an odd growing season some 15 years ago, when gardens weren't performing well, I was gifted with a secret weapon... a glass Victorian gazing globe.
Friends and family had long been tolerant of my passion for gardening. Still, I took a lot of ribbing when I announced that, for my birthday, I wanted one of those outdated garden ornaments that only very old grannies seemed to remember.
In the eyes of almost everyone, you'd have thought I had asked for a plastic flamingo or a "yard butt"! And Lord knows, if I had wanted those things too, public or family opinion would not have deterred me.
Though gazing globes would soon come back to fashionable gardens, in that year when I had announced my wish to own one, they were still passe. But among my books I had read an excerpt from the journal of a Victorian woman and was intrigued by her description of a garden globe that had become the treasured centerpiece of her classic "sitting garden."
In that globe, the woman wrote, she could see earth and ground and sky, mixed all in one together, adding dimension to her garden and lending an element of mystery and peace for her rest and meditation there.
After a great deal of searching, my husband did secure a gazing globe to fulfill my birthday wish. He placed the cobalt orb atop a simple, classic base, arranging it amid the flowers and herbs in a small courtyard garden at the rear lower level of our home.
I found the globe hypnotic as I sat garden-side above my creek, watching grass, sky, flowers, river-stone and walkway-bricks reflected in the globe's fine clarity and depth. In the private coolness of that solitary spot, the curving mirrored surface doubled the effect of sun and shade, mixing colors of my blooms with birds and butterflies and passing clouds.
In that year when I received it, though my garden blooms were paltry, I could still enjoy the special status that a so-so garden could achieve within that gazing globe.
I could look into the globe at night from second-story porches high above, and see a blue moon gazing back at me. And I could also see the smug reflection of a woman who had dared to be un-chic enough to want a gazing globe.
I still love that garden globe, and I protect it carefully. For it seems to me that globes today aren't fashioned with that special glass. It's fragile, to be sure, but worth the extra care.
Each year I carefully remove it when the autumn frost appears, and I store it carefully.
And when it once again stands boldly in my garden, you know that summer has arrived again at my house.
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