Friday, July 24, 2009
The Garden of Life
I’m trying something different today. I’m attempting to get my oldest daughter to read my blog, which she insists—because she’s developed internet attention disorder—is just too long. I’m going to entice her with a nice, short, to-the-point post. No waxing philosophical. No long drawn out essay. No emotional/spiritual wanderings and wonderings. Just some nice, compact musings about what’s going on.
Our house—the one I moved out of six months ago, that’s been our family home for nineteen years—has sold. Two days ago, the buyers lifted all their contingencies, plus their loan has been approved, making it as close to a sure thing as it can be before actual close of escrow.
I’ve spent a lot of time there this week. Our dog, Jasper, got a bad eye injury which got horribly infected which involved nine different medications, three of which had to be given every hour round the clock. My almost-ex and I, along with our fantastic animal ophthalmologist, made it a joint effort to get him well and avoid a costly and painful surgery. As of yesterday, mission accomplished—though he still has a lot of healing to do. Here he is in his dreaded Elizabethan Collar. And yes, it really is called that, at least that’s what it says on our invoice. E Collar for short.
Being back “home” for days on end, some nights overnight, has been tricky. It’s taken a huge shift in thinking over the last year to get it that I don’t and won’t be living there any longer. Our home is your basic tract, manicured-lawn suburban house where every third or fourth one is exactly the same save color, type of tree shading the lawn, number of kids inside, make and model car in the driveway. But to me it was everything. Something I never dreamed I’d have, yet I did. And once I did, never dreamed I wouldn't have. Chock full of memories; brimming with love, challenges, joy, heartache, more love. I didn’t realize until I moved out of it (how could I have been so ignorant), that it had been the very ground beneath me.
Of the actual physical place, I’ll miss my garden the most. By a long shot. Whereas the family is no longer a living, breathing entity in that space, the garden continues to grow, bloom, and thrive there. Roses, sages, lavenders, daylilies, thymes, all spilling out of their beds. And whereas I didn’t build our house, I did create the garden. From scratch. One tiny little plant at a time. I learned the hard way, through trial and error; burning shade plants in the sun and depriving sun-loving plants in the shade; having all cool colors except for the one hot orange calendula that stuck out like a sore thumb; cutting back too much, then not enough; trying to live with picky floribunda roses; until I began to get it, learning again and again, season after season, until I developed a nicely hued green thumb, and became a pretty damned fine gardener.
It became my favorite place to be, a true sanctuary. And I learned so much from it, far beyond which plant to place where, when and where to deadhead, which mulch was the best. I saw way back in the beginning that a garden is the perfect model for life. Watching as summers turned to fall, and the true perennials began to die back, then in winter, disappear altogether. It was an act of blind faith the first couple of years, not quite believing, in spite of what the books insisted, that they could lie hidden in the dark, wet earth and survive. Yet they did, and they didn't just survive, they thrived, growing bigger, stronger, more glorious than the year before. Year after year as the earth turned, they’d send up their tiny, tender shoots for their first taste of the light, warmth, and promise of spring. Every year was joyous, and taught me more about trust than I could otherwise have learned in two or three different lifetimes. And about life.
I’ll stop right here for a minute and state the obvious. I’m apparently not capable of a short, sweet post, the kind that I envy, the ones that get picked as notable blogs, that are colorful and fresh and upbeat, with pictures of cupcakes and bicycles with baskets, and lovely self-portraits taken at arms length – a skill, an art really, that I’m pretty sure I’ll never master, either because my face it too big or my arm not long enough, or most likely, some acute combination of both.
The truth is, I’m not one of those adorable, bright, perky, quirky, oh-so-creative women of the younger generation. That I admire. Especially the really creative ones. I never will be. No matter how I try to twist or turn myself, I am who I am: a woman in her 50’s, going through a big life transition that has both flattened and resuscitated her, that writing about helps her process, integrate, understand, and come to terms with. Who's had a lot of experiences in life, all types, the good, the bad, the ugly. Who has done much seeking and searching, all of which is now part of the schema. She—I—am a woman on the threshold, excited so see where life is taking her or where she's taking life – whatever, it’s all semantics anyway. Long story pretty darned long, I have much to say and I’ve finally started saying it. Yes, there are a lot of words. I am a double-Gemini with a Virgo Moon, which pretty much makes Mercury, the god of communication, the only thing really going on in my chart. Which means, pretty much, that I’m never at a loss for words. Just ask anyone who knows me. (You should see me on caffeine...) And the truth is, I enjoy my writing style, verbose as it is. I get to the point, though we may meander off the path a bit, circle around for a while, possibly even get lost before heading back. And there are people out there who like it, others, I’m sure, who wouldn’t give it the time of day.
And rightly so. And which brings me back to gardening. (See?) Early on I also realized there were flowers I loved and flowers I loathed. Gladiolas, for example, will always be the “funeral” flower, I have no idea why, but I wouldn’t dream of giving even one bulb soil space. As the years went by, I refined my taste in roses and they began to take over. Along with salvias, a species I hadn’t even known existed, yet am wildly in love with. It’s all a matter of taste, and differences, which, thank god, make our world not just go 'round, but far richer, and infinitely more beautiful.
Awesome antique rose that smells heavenly
I still hope my daughter will become a regular reader. But it’s okay if she doesn’t. I’ll survive, and so will the blog.
And just for the record, I think this is my longest post yet. Which wasn't by design. Honest. Yet here it is.
The creative process at work.
Trust the flow.
Until next time...