The Serendipity of the Unexpected

Life is full of the unexpected. It's ironic that one can expect the unexpected. I think there are different ways of dealing with the unexpected. I tend to deal with them in one of two ways. I either view the unexpected as a wonderful stroke of serendipity, and I revel in the magic of it. Or the unexpected broadsides me with such an impact that I am overwhelmed to the point of an extreme emotional response.

When I chose to follow my heart and plant a garden that could be certified as a backyard wildlife habitat, I had no idea all the unexpected things that would occur. I felt pretty green when I embarked on the whole plan, so I expected the unexpected because I didn't know what to expect (there's that irony again).

Let me share just a few of the things that I, in no way, anticipated or expected but have been magically serendipitous:
  • I became passionate about growing citrus trees even though I had very little experience doing so. Being situated in a hilly town where each street can have a different microclimate, our home happens to be on a street that is prime for growing citrus and having them thrive through the winter.
  • After digging a 1, 200 gallon pond with a shovel and sheer willpower, I quickly found out that I also needed to be a steward over a population of fish, or I was going to have a mosquito farm on my hands. I had no idea that Wal-Mart goldfish would breed year after year and become "indigenous natives" in my garden habitat pond. Wild goldfish... I never would have expected it.
  • With the original vision of having two sweet little indoor housecats, Hubby and I had no idea that we would end up being the rescuers and stewards over many others that would cross our paths. Some would only need temporary assistance, and some would end up becoming permanent residents. Regardless of the length of our association, we have considered it an honor to assist in each of their life's journeys.
  • Being a habitual traveler with a heart full of wanderlust, I had no idea that I could fall in love with my own home and garden so much that the desire to wander would fade to almost nothing. I had no idea that my roots could grow so deep in one place.
The other evening I sat down in our living room with my camera to clean its lens and brush up on some less-used features. I was wiping the optics and raised the camera to look through the viewfinder to check its clearness. What I saw through the viewfinder made me laugh spontaneously. Fortunately, I had the wherewithal to snap the shutter...

This experience encapsulates the beauty and magic of the unexpected for me. This is pure "photographic serendipity" as its best. And this is the experience that got me thinking about this whole idea of the unexpected being a positive thing in life if I let it.

As I read over the many comments left on my post about the mandarins on our tree, I thought about how many of you could probably cultivate citrus where you live, but don't know it. I thought, "What a great unexpected treat would that be for someone to realize that they could grow the very thing that they are pining over, but they just don't know it yet?"

The link to the right is to a book I found that showcases more than 100 citrus varieties that can be grown outside year-round in the U.S. states of California, Arizona, Texas, The Gulf Coast, and Florida. Each of those states is big with lots of micro-climate variations in them, so there are many parts of the world that are similar. Then when you consider that many citrus varieties can be grown inside anywhere in the world... well... the possibilities are endless!

So what unexpected and serendipitous experience are you going to embrace this coming year? Will you plant your first citrus tree like I did a short while ago? Will you decide to turn your condo balcony into a butterfly and hummingbird garden all with potted plants? Will you grow tomatoes from seed for the very first time even if it's in a 5-gallon pot in your kitchen window? Tell me... what unexpected magic will stare you in the face (just like Lucy stared into my camera lens) and make you take a moment to laugh and feel pure joy?
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  1. I don't know what unexpected experience I'll embrace, but I hope I recognize it when it gets here. I liked this post.

  2. A lovely post and I agree with you that the unexpected can be a good thing. People who I have met who have achieved alot in life or seem to be very happy generally seem to have taken advantage of things that happened unexpectedly.

  3. Hey Cindy, what a wonderful post. Life is going to come at us, whether we duck and take cover, or face it head on. Good on you for facing it head on, and look at all the wonderful things you have discovered. So much of life is attitude, and you have a great one!

    I LOL, notice that you did not include BC in the list of places that citrus can grow. Gee, might it be our weather lately? Giggle.

    Big web hugs, Jen

  4. Wow. I think this is one of my favourite posts, so far, Cindy. Your questions are provocative and I will give them more thought, although I have to say the idea of cultivating a butterfly & hummingbird sanctuary on my garden is very appealing...hmmm...(brain gears turning).

    This phrase is remarkable:

    "What a great unexpected treat would that be for someone to realize that they could grow the very thing that they are pining over, but they just don't know it yet?"

    You articulated a very profound and wise concept here that could be applied to much more than simply growing mandarin trees.

    In fact, it's so beautiful and profound, I'm adding it to my list of quotes. It's a keeper and one to meditate on.

    Thank you, Cindy.

  5. Having been remminded by someone who knows me well and loves me that I should remember to take ME time, I will put some thought in to answering your question. One idea I've been toying with is growing a dyer's garden.

  6. Delightful post.......and I love that photograph, such a lovely cat, beautiful markings......

    I am planning a secret it will turn out I do not know but it is going to be fun I am sure........

  7. What a delightful surprise to see Lucy looking back at you. It brought a smile to my face. We will have to enjoy looking at all your wonderful photos in the winter but I am going to grow some paper whites in my kitchen window which is something I haven't done before to lift this winter fog for me:) Thanks for sharing. The rose is beautiful!

  8. Beautiful photos as usual! I love the rose at the beginning of the post. I commented on Miss Lucy's photo yesterday on DH facebook! You've peek my interest about oranges. If I grow them inside.. the only option for Utah and 2 feet of snow... how do they pollinate?
    Love you,

  9. I am presently trying to overwinter a plant I'm not supposed to be able to grow- Dierama or Fairywand. YOU could easily grow this lovely but rare plant. Digging Dog nursery is near you and that's who I ordered mine from. They are ideally situated next to a pond! The plant looks like a clump of grass until it blooms with long (5-6 foot tall) arching wands that boast white, pink, or magenta bells hanging from them. Just stunning.

    I hope mine make it but sadly we had very low temps the last two days that may kill them. I've insulated them as best I can with snow. I guess I'll know in the spring.

    I can't wait to see more pictures of your yard. It sounds lovely.

  10. Nice photos and intriguing food for thought in the text... just trying to remain open to life and taking it as it comes.

  11. Cindy, what a lovely post. I felt as if I were floating on a cloud. I love the picture of kitty. Aren't their eyes just amazing? Soulful.

    I think I am going to try my hand at oranges. We have orange trees running rampant here in San Antonio and my friend Veronica has several trees in her backyard. Right before Christmas, she gave me three bags of the sweetest smelling oranges I have ever had. I very thinly sliced the oranges from one bag and placed them on two cookie sheets and sprinkled cloves and cinnamon on top and I put the oven on low and left them in there for twelve hours. My apartment smelled so wonderful that my neighbors next door and up stairs wanted to know what I was baking. They thought I was making pies! I told them what I had done and lo' and behold, they did the same thing that very night. Building number 12 smelled never smelled so good!

    Thanks for the inspiration. I will seek out more information on how to grow an orange tree. I'm afraid I don't have a green thumb but I am willing to try!

    BTW, please hop over to my blog. I have an award for you.

    Deanna :)

  12. I wish we could grow citrus here. I know I could grow them in containers, but I'm not sure they would do all that well.

    I'm always on the outlook for the unexpected. Mom and I had a discussion along those lines awhile back. I told her I think God causes little things to happen in our lives just to surprise us, make us laugh, or stand in awe. She thinks He is too busy to be bothered with such mundane stuff. I SO disagree! I think He does it on purpose, because He's God, and He CAN!

  13. I wish I could plant a lemon tree, but everyone I've talked to says they don't do well in the Treasure Valley. All that snow, I guess!

    I have an award for you at my book blog. Come pick it up!

  14. Cindy, I love the word serendipity... it's so serendipitous (smile)!

    BTW, I've given you an award so please check out my post on my blog today.

  15. Hia Cindy, I honestly don't have a clue. I'm just getting the craft things I want to make, done. The garden is hard with frost so I can't do anything out there.

    I did manage to bring my stephanotis back from the dead. It lost all it's leaves in a period of days in a new location, so I put it back. About a month later it grew a couple of leaves near the base, and now it has some clumps growing further up, so that was a good suprise.

  16. No citrus possibilites here, dear Cindy, except indoors. When I win the lottery, I shall have a solarium with attached hottub and sauna (they can all help heat/cool/humidity each other) and have an orange, a lemon and a lime tree. Note to self: Buy winning lottery ticket.
    Serendipitous moments with my garden? I'm looking forward to lots of them this year, once I'm feeling better. All a work in progress, of course.


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