Saturday, April 05, 2008

Growing a Life

It might actually -finally- be spring. (She whispers, lest the goddess of weather hear and inject a freak April blizzard into the mix. It's happened before.) You can't actually tell that it's spring in the gardens yet. But I know it's here because the interstate is under construction (a surer sign than the daffodils), and my across-the-street neighbor has undertaken a home improvement project. This one seems to involve a jackhammer, which is a little irritating. But he'll be done eventually, and then I can open the windows.

So, this morning I took my coffee out into the backyard. I dusted off a fabulously dirty lawn chair, located my sunglasses and a book, and plopped down. I quickly abandoned the book. It's a tragedy of another knitting-group tale. I don't think it's supposed to be a tragedy; it's just that the writing is so very bad. Too lazy to get up, and enjoying the sun on my shoulders, I just started looking around.

Why did I put my lawn chair here, when all it gave me a view of is the garbage can? Rotate my chair a little, and I see the driveway. That's no better. Rotate a little more and I get the sump pump. Oh, that's elegant. Rotate a little more, and it's the neighbor's trashcan. Houston, we have a problem.

Dave has always taken care of the gardens. And really, when they are in bloom, they're lovely. But I think I have a handle on why I never wanted to hang out and enjoy them. They don't invite anyone in, except to do chores. That's no good.

There's nowhere to sit, nowhere to sleep, nowhere to walk, and the views are kind of icky. Nothing says "come have a glass of tea with me" or even "keep me company while I weed this flower bed". We didn't have a garden; we had a flower laboratory.

I have a tendency lately, which I really have to keep in check, to feel that I have to do everything all at once, RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE. I have this new opportunity in my life to organize things my way, to fulfill my dreams at long last -and I don't have to defend that to a single person. But being me, I could easily throw away all the old furniture to begin the house redecorating project, tear up all the sod in the yard to begin a landscaping project, buy a plane ticket to heaven-knows-where to begin the travel project, and then get on my bike and not come home for 8 hours.

When I did come home, it would be to an empty house, a destroyed yard, an empty bank account, and a sore body. I would then melt completely down -and then I would have to go to work. This strikes me as a bad plan.

The gardens are actually a nice metaphor for the way I should undertake this new life of mine. I know there are a few things I want to change right now. I need some decent chairs in the backyard. (I bought two white Adirondack chairs this morning.) Those chairs need a little table and a foot stool for at least one of them. I'm just going to move them around until the right place for a seating area reveals itself to me.

And from that vantage point, I'll watch the gardens. Dave wanted blues and purples in the gardens. I like that idea a lot -except he was a little wrong there, too. Blues and purples alone look gloomy. There need to be accents of pink and white, I think. So I'm going to watch what comes up and looks a little lonely. Pink and white annuals will go right there. I need giant pots of geraniums on the front steps. I need ferns hanging on the front porch. I have a little fantasy of an herb garden, but no clear sense of where it belongs yet. So, really, all I might get done in the gardens this year -other than maintaining them- is the furniture, the annuals, the pots of geraniums and a few hanging plants.

But I will have started. I will have made a little mark. I will have honored what's come before, without being bound by it. Even these little changes are, to my mind, about welcoming people in and offering something peaceful, or possibly even joyful, to see. And I'm waiting for the next right move to reveal itself. I'm not a good wait-er. Maybe that's what the garden has to teach me this year.


Lisa :-] said...

OOOOOoooohhhh. You're speaking my language when you start talking about gardens.

Blues and purples cry out for yellows and oranges. Colors on the opposite side of the color wheel. Plant a box with marigolds and'll see what I mean.

I have about a million books you could borrow... :)

Anonymous said...

I love your garden insights. it will be beautiful!