The early weeks spent in my community garden spot were pure toil:  digging, seeding, watering, weeding.

I worried that the rocky clay soil might not provide enough drainage. I wondered if I’d planted the dahlia tubers upside down. I thought the zinnia seeds looked a little too shriveled, throwing down plenty more than suggested in the hope that at least some might take.

And I waited for the all to unfold.

Sure enough, it happened. I returned after a few days out of town in early June, and there they were, rows of green sprouting through the dirt.

 “Magic,” I said to myself, amused not only by what I saw but also by the word that the new growth brought to mind.



 It’s a word my long-lost Aussie (by way of Belfast) relative Liam McCloskey favors, and it makes me smile every time he says it, evoking as it does a sense of wonder.  Not trickery or wizardry, but rather innocence and delight.

“We had a magic night,” he wrote once in an email. Not magical.

 Or describing the Christmas lights surrounding his home and how they glittered at night, he closed a note with a simple “magic.”  

 No other word so neatly captures such moments of surprise and childlike amazement. Seeing seeds push through the dirt toward the sky is that kind of moment.

 Of course, that’s the botany of it all. Bury the seed, give it water and warmth, and invariably it will wiggle its way through even the rockiest of soil.  Not always, but usually.

 For me, it never gets old.

 Still takes my breath away.

 Still magic.