Six months ago, I restored the side-yard garden that had spent the last decade slowly re-wild-ing itself against our next door neighbor’s privacy fence. It took about two weeks to break and till the earth with the tools I had on hand. Two garden hoes and a season and a half later I would discover how inexpensive renting a rototiller would have otherwise been.
Also, I discovered that rototillers exist. Learning’s fun.
Between the Zinnia’s that thrived and the Brussels Sprouts that never quite took, I began a process that helped root me to the space I occupy in more meaningful ways than dodgy community calendars or electric-light-dream-rectangles allow. Instead, I began to feel myself embedded into something far older, and wiser, and kinder. I began to experience a procession of seasons and what they require of someone in minerature.
This is new.
Normally, we understand this procession and our connectivity to it a ritualistic observance… a sort of stations-of-the-cross where we muddle through from point to point to point until we arrive at our pre-determined destination: seasonal affective disorder—and then—St. Patricks Day.
But to live it in real time, and to commune with it at this magnitude makes the processional, musty leather bound, sort of almanacking we sometimes do seem discordant to it’s more vibrant and saturated capacities. I’m sure given the collective experience of our past two or more decades that I cannot be the only one who noticed that experiencing time passing only feels like a chore when you’re disengaged from it and are embroiled in computers or business or some other such contrived and exclusively human constructs.
If anything, gardening is less of a chore and more of a collaboration. With the seasons, with a destination yet unknown. But most of all, most importantly, my presence became noted by each shoot of green that burst out of the crumbly dirt and began doing unspeakable things with the residents of our street’s neighborhood beehives. If that privacy fence had eyes let me tell you.
I came away thinking that to garden must mean more about the arranging of the plants than the actual growing itself. The plants, they’re more than happy to do that for you. You’re just there to encourage it and to pluck a weed or twenty.
But this week my garden and I began parting ways. Things have begun to wither and wilt and a frustrating few afternoons one late March ago seem much closer today than they did a week ago. A light blanket of snow has started gathering at the feet of the life I’d haphazardly dashed into the earth just across from the dish-TV receiver and the air conditioning unit.
With the garden’s twilight comes morning for the hearth. Ciders are warmed on stoves, cinnamon brooms are sold in bulk, and fresh breads and rolls are leavened and drizzled with icing. Who really cares if it came from the cardboard Pillsbury roll. Sometimes, I still jump when I press the spoon into the spiral crease of the cardboard and the dough puffs to life. the fragrances of autumn lurch into the room with a musky heavy presence to dispel the cold’s grip on our collective confidence.
Soon we’ll be scrambling to throw on our heavier jackets, shielding us from the world outside our doors in a way we hadn’t needed earlier. We’ll watch as mornings grow dimmer, the snow snap across our whole world making chores out of otherwise benign commutes.
But for now we can stay with the roses and the zinnias who slowly nod off to sleep while sepia tones fill the sky.
Tomorrow seems ready to remind me of all the things I had learned to forget this year. Maybe in 2018, I’ll learn how to tend to my plants with greater skill and leave the unkept spaces that would only sputter green will then grow with greater determination.
Or maybe, I’ll just forget the whole damn thing. Maybe instead I’ll just rush off to some calendar where time runs in the opposite direction.
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