When we first moved into this big, wonderful house, we toiled and planted together in our many gardens. We were building something long-lasting, rich, sensual and vibrant. The flowers in our garden were breathtaking. Our plants were exotic. Butterflies were abundant. Every clod of dirt became a colony of life. We loved every lizard, flower, hummingbird, bush, spider or tree. And with each plant’s growth, annual or perennial, we rejoiced.
As part of our morning ritual we’d walk, hand in hand, around the whole yard to look at what had bloomed or sprouted or spread the previous day. Those communions with nature were deeply entrenched in the fiber of our relationship. We loved our gardens and we loved sharing our gardens with each other. It was simple, pure joy.
Various cancer treatments ate away at our time in the gardens. It’s hard to dig holes when you are nauseated or tethered to a chemo pump. Eventually, it became a rare event when we’d share those tender garden-tending moments. The last gardening pleasures we had were walking around, still hand in hand, observing the changes that nature had orchestrated in our stead. It was still nice (how could it not be?) but it was sad, too, seeing all that we built succumb to nature’s entropy.
Eventually, the garden, like the inhabitants of this big house, fell into complete shambles.
Three weekends ago, for reasons I can’t explain, I spent all Saturday working on the sprinkler system. It was broken in many places. Multiple blown-out heads sprayed like misplaced fountains. Several broken pipes had to be dug out and repaired. Most sprinkler heads were clogged or misaligned. It took all weekend and multiple trips to Lowes but by Sunday night the sprinkler system was back in good working order. I felt accomplished.
Two weekends ago, I bought some plants. I can’t tell you why. I got in the car and ended up in our favorite Austin plant store, Red Barn. I left with $100 worth of plants which were dropped into the ground in their perfect places in three flower beds. Other plants in those beds that had migrated were repositioned back to their correct places. Other plants were trimmed back and reshaped. Those three flower beds were beginning to look like flower beds again. It was nice to see. It was renewal.
Last weekend, Red Barn took another $100 of mine in return for a wonderful set of plants perfect for one more bed. They aren’t planted yet but I’ve prepared the bed. I’m so excited to see how they look in the ground and how they’ll fill in over time. It’s going to be beautiful. I’m excited.
As I look around, though, it’s hard see the world without the tint of what used to be – the garden that we built together and was overflowing with blooms and beauty and love. A friend of mine commented that the garden was the most beautiful she’d seen. I responded that there’s just no comparison to what it once was. The definition of innocence; she had nothing to compare. I can’t avoid the comparison. What Once Was is stinking up my enjoyment of What Is.
It’s amazing to me how the gardens here at our house have reflected the health, both mental and physical, of the occupants. Looking at the gardens now, it’s apparent that growth is beginning where just months ago were just memories. This is good. I’m excited to see what blooms.