Come Away With Me by Nora Jones from the CD by the same name
My days usually begin with feeding animals. In good weather, when I’m finished with chores I usually wander from place to place as I wind my way back to the house, distracted by my gardens. What generally starts as pulling a weed or two tends to morph into (sometimes) hours of work. Understand that while I consider this work, it’s a labor of love. Gardening is a pastime that you can love, hate or simply tolerate as a necessity of home ownership. After all, unless you live in a condo chances are pretty good you’ll have at least a lawn and perhaps a shrub or two that need regular tending. But for some people gardening is a passion, a way to get lost and escape the confines of time and space. For someone like me who seldom leaves home, gardening is my paradise, my little piece of heaven.
That’s not to say I don’t sometimes feel buried alive by the vast, endless amount of work that goes into creating and maintaining my property. Someone recently said that my land is just a wee bit “wild.” She was being polite. On a good day I have everything I can do to keep the woods and invasive plants and weeds from encroaching. Other days I just feel overwhelmed. I often think of Edward Scissorhands as I’m pulling and pruning like crazy because I’m pretty sure having blades for hands would be a convenience. There are times when I’m enormously pleased with my results, thrilled even that anything I’ve planted has grown at all. But sometimes I feel like all this work is for naught. Nobody sees it but me. Nobody else enjoys it or shares my passion.
It’s not that I need praise or anything, but I remember my parents shared a love of gardening. They actually had conversations about plants and flowers. They planned our vegetable garden together, Dad pouring over catalogs and calling out to Mom in the kitchen, “Kay, should we plant three rows of Golden Bantam and three rows of Silver Queen this year?” I have foggy memories of Mom discussing things like portulaca and petunias with Dad’s mother. “A-yah,” Grandma would say as she walked the narrow stone path that ran the length of their huge house, deadheading here and there and dropping the spent blossoms into her apron pocket as she moseyed along, “those will do well in the shade.” Mom got most of Grandma’s prized recopies and lots of good gardening advice too.
I miss the camaraderie of sharing my garden with someone else. One of my good friends is a passionate gardener and every summer I make a point of going to visit her so we can wander her gardens together. I love listening to her tell me about what’s growing well for her and what’s not. We laugh about our disasters, swap tips and advice and I often leave with a cutting (or three) to try my luck with at home. My husband didn’t come from a gardening family. He appreciates the fresh produce and always comments on my fragrant lilac cuttings, but the revolving list of chores doesn’t interest him much. And that’s fine because it allows me a certain freedom to do whatever suits my fancy. But sometimes I need a hand with the bigger jobs, like tree pruning, desodding, building new garden boxes and about a dozen other jobs I can think of right now. Obviously the longer I garden more grandiose my ideas become!
I don’t know how I’m going to get my husband on board for all the projects I’d like to do. Several years ago we were having a discussion with visitors about vacations, when I mentioned that we’ve only taken two vacations (together) in the last 20+ years. Our company was shocked. My husband’s response was to gesture to our small homestead and say, “Why go away when every day is like a vacation in paradise?” That’s probably about as close to a compliment as I’ll ever get.