Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Resting My Weary Heart
I've fretted here, there, and everywhere about the state of my gardens. I laughed with delight when I dreamed their new shape and texture. I've worried that I am not physically capable of maintaining them -witness my abject gratitude toward and willingness to fork over big bucks to the young people who mow my grass.
This is the Midwest. People here have very clear ideas as to what constitutes a good neighbor. Good neighbors mow their grass, alternating the direction of the mowing every week, lest... Well, I don't lest what. Lest something dire happen. They clean up their gardens during the growing season and before the snows fall. Good neighbors don't leave their recycling buckets out for 24 hours to blow around the neighborhood. Good neighbors are, all in all, someone other than me. While I get to have my more Southern-belle vision of what it means to garden (think of the difference between a peony and a rose) and to be neighborly (and the definition of neighbor is no less rigorous in the south; it's just different.) I do still want people not to have to politely avert their eyes from that eyesore of a house on Sixth Street. I really do want to be a good neighbor.
I finally figured it out. My gardens made me afraid. I thought I had lost my interest in nurturing, and THAT'S a huge part of my self image. What if I can't do it? What if even non-sentient (yes, I do get that part) plants understand that I have no ability to care for things anymore and just flat out die to prove the point?
Umm.... Andrea.... come back to the pack, sweetheart. You've gone 'round the bend.
Two things happened to snatch me from my dithering. While I was at my sister's house I read a book by Dominique Browning, Paths of Desire: The Passions of a Suburban Gardner. She too -beautiful, gifted and wealthy as she is- had her husband leave her for another woman. (Seriously, if she can't keep a man, I had no chance and should have known that from the beginning.) And she lost interest in her garden for well more than a year. Her claim, as she came out the other side, is that she hadn't lost interest in nurturing. She was just resting her weary heart. And the garden was waiting for her when she was ready.
And the second thing... this part is spooky. I told you I dreamed my gardens -at least the back yard and side yard parts. In the garden was very clearly a school desk (the old-fashioned kind that we used in the olden days, with a little bench and a writing desk that lifts up and where you store your books and papers and stuff) that I KNEW I would use for writing while outside in this newly-beautiful garden. My sister and I went to this antique furniture - consignment store while I was at her house and there was my desk. As she put it, you don't mess with the dream. I bought the desk. It's sitting in her guest room as we speak, but it will get to my house as soon as I figure out the details. I'm going to protect it from the rain with spar varnish (if it works on boats it will probably work on my desk) and come spring will write outside.
I still have heart-resting to do, but I think I'm going to do it with garden catalogues in-hand. My dream didn't come with a chart as to what the NAMES of those plants that I dreamed might be. This process involves some detective work ;) Research! Now THAT I understand ;)