Mum’s the word

There’s an old saying. It goes like this: “Mum’s the word”. It means, “SSShhhhh. Keep your mouth shut. Don’t say anything to anyone about it.” Often the expression is used when something of great import is to be kept secret. “Mum’s the word on this, okay?”

Yesterday, I got a hankering to do some gardening. The potted plants had gotten fairly out of control, especially the three pots of mums I’d gotten as a birthday present at the beginning of the month. More than half the blooms were dead and dried. The new ones looked awful next to the crusty old ones. The folks at the garden store we’d just visited had drastically cut back all of their mum plants. They do that so the plant stock has more energy to put into new growth. I looked at my sorry mums and realized that it was time for me to do the same.

I got out the clippers and started snipping away. But each time I clipped off a new bud, I felt an awesome sense of remorse.

“This is so sad,” I said to myself. All these beautiful new blooms choked out by the old ones. What a shame.” Still, I knew that if I didn’t take the whole plant down, I’d be robbing it of the enormous potential it held within its roots. I took a deep breath and kept on snipping.

I finished the first, then the second, and then went on to the third plant. The third was the most difficult because it was my favorite – rich, crimson petals surrounding brilliant yellow centers. Lovely.

As I worked, the blooms fell to the ground and made a pile around my feet. The bright pastels of the fresh blooms mixed with the muted browns of the old ones. It was a strange sight; almost pretty and almost ugly all at the same time.

I clipped the last bud off the third plant and stepped back to examinee my work. What I saw amazed me, and I simply had to chuckle. All three plants were loaded with new buds! They’d been so buried among the crusty old blooms that I hadn’t noticed them. Now they were the most apparent part of the plants. They looked like spring mums ready to burst forth again.

This is the secret that all good gardeners know. Sometimes the old has to be drastically clipped away in order to make way for the new. It can be painful, but the fruits will be amazing.

Life is like that sometimes, isn’t it? Sometimes we’re so buried in the crusty old blooms that we can’t see the new buds beneath the surface. Then we have to keep our mouths shut, get out the clippers and bravely snip everything away so that the enormous potential for growth lying within our roots can be realized. Then we’ll look like spring mums ready to burst forth again.

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