Come and walk with me over here, but be quiet as you walk."
With that the old woman tiptoed quietly across the vegetable garden to a large snowball bush that had been growing for years on the southeast corner of the garden. Pointing down at the base she rather excitedly exclaimed, "Did you see that rabbit go under there?"
I hadn't seen any rabbit but didn't want to admit it, so I offered a meek yes. She turned and faced me again and said, "I think that was Bountiful Bunny."
Up to this point, I had assumed that Bountiful Bunny was a figment of my imagination, but as I stood there with the old woman, I couldn't help but wonder what was real and what I was imagining.
"Let's go sit over here in the shade, Carol, and I'll tell you what I really came to talk about this morning."
As we sat down in two chairs in the shade, the old woman turned toward me, laid her hand gently on my arm and began to speak as I listened intently.
"Carol, I think your garden really came to life the day you let the garden designer and hort-enabler come and see it. It's shaping up nicely and even though there are still weeds and large areas to plant, trust me, it is only going to get better. I think you are happier with your garden now, too, since they came and since the garden designer helped you implement a real garden plan."
I nodded my head in agreement as she continued.
"Awhile back you wrote that one of the secrets to happiness in your garden was to share your garden. A lot of what you wrote for that secret was about sharing the plants and vegetables from the garden, along with one's knowledge of gardening. You sort of glossed over the part about letting others see your garden. Now I'm here to tell you that once you share your garden, as in truly let others come through your gate and see your garden and walk freely through it, your garden will be more alive, more full, and more vibrant than you can ever imagine. You should really go back and re-write that secret to emphasize that."
As I pondered what she had just told me, the old woman got up, dusted off her pants, and said, "It's time for me to go, but before I do, I'd like to thank you for sharing your garden with me today, even with the weeds in the flower beds and the vegetable garden, the empty pots and tools strewn around the patio, the half-built retaining wall, and the edges of the beds not being quite as sharp as you'd probably like them to be.
"It is still a pretty garden with a good framework and a lot of beauty."
Before I had a chance to wonder how she saw all of that in my garden in the short time she was here, the old woman headed out through the garden gate, walked around toward the front of the house and disappeared once again. I was glad she had returned, happy to get her advice, but still filled with questions.
Exactly who was she, why did she seem so familiar and when would she return?