Apr 05, 2010
As I write this journal, I have to say that it is for no one but myself. It may rank as the most boring journal Med help has ever had. However, these are the things I am thinking about today.
One of the ways I feel alive in this world is through nature. Planting and nurturing beautiful things has brought me great joy and peace for many years. I did my traditional walk this weekend around my yard in which I look for what plants are returning after the bitter cold winter we had. Over the years, I've certainly planted many things that haven't survived and I always feel like I failed them. But that is because I take it all very seriously and personally. Plants mean more to me than just green things that emerge from the earth. They are my memories and connection to things and people, many of whom I have lost.
When I was a girl, I spent most of the summer at my mother's parents. They lived on Lake Erie and we spent virtually the whole day outside. I remember the raspberry bushes that grew the sweetest, most luscious fruit I've ever tasted. Early mornings we would pick them for breakfast and I'd sneak them throughout the day. We ate green apples off the trees along with these tiny peaches that were so juicy. My grandmother had a long white picket fence with flowers in front of it all the way down the length of their property. There was never a weed to be found as they would tend to that border with love daily. It was very old fashioned looking and quite beautiful. As you walked to their front door from the driveway, there was a huge black cast iron pot filled with geraniums. This was my grandmother's favorite and I always have a pot of geraniums to this day to remind myself of her.
My own mother was a meticulous woman that never had a thing out of place. She plotted and planned her flowers every year as if our house was on a flower and garden tour (which it wasn't). She color coordinated and spaced everything out perfectly and would get so mad when my dad would slip in a sprawling zucchini plant in the wrong place. My dad grew practical things like strawberries, tomatoes, and other edible items. Nothing better than a garden fresh tomato in my opinion. He'd tend to our lawn like it was his baby and it always was thick and green. And my mother took such pride in her flowers. One mother's day, I went to a local plant store and bought two very healthy looking lilac bushes. This was to be her gift from me. I knew she would love it. My sister and I dug the holes ourselves and planted them for her. Two years later she had died. As I was preparing her house to sell, I looked out the window and saw the most beautiful blooms on those two lilac bushes. To this day, the mere scent of lilacs can bring a small tear to my eye and that lump to my throat that only a painful loss can bring. But it is also very melancholy and sweet as it is a reminder of what that woman meant to me. I planted lilacs in my yard and can't wait for the blooms to open.
I had the the world's most practical father. When I was considering what college to attend and what to do with my life, my dad sat me down and we had a talk. I had been accepted to an art and architecture school and wanted to be an interior designer. (This is hilarious if you saw my house now!). My dad told me about what it would be like to support myself and be financially independent. I wasn't really thinking in those terms as a senior in high school (who really does?) and that conversation caused me to rethink my goals. I changed the course of my education. I don't regret my choice. . . but do occasionally wonder what if. My safe choice brought some financial gains and I bought my first home all by myself at the age of 26 without using a dime of any one's money but my own. That was a proud time for me. It was a hundred year old, tiny cottage in an older part of town. It was so cute and I just loved it. My first spring in my own place, my mom showed up on a Saturday with a car load of things to plant. I was miffed at the time because I wanted to make all the decisions as it was my house! That seems so silly now as I would give anything to relive that day. She had the perfectly coordinated annuals as well as some perennials. She told me about each one as we planted them. My favorite was a beautiful pink peony that went on to be very beautiful with many huge, fragrant deep pink blooms. It is such a happy flower, in my opinion. We also planted these strange things called bleeding hearts. They are a really interesting plant with a name that my boys think is scary. But they bring back that vivid memory of my mother that always warms my heart. I was sad when it was time to sell that house. It had meant a lot to me and had been my "project" in many ways. The last time I locked it up to take the keys to the closing, I left a note on the kitchen counter for the new owner. A young woman was buying it and I had no idea if she would care. But since I did, I wrote to her about what was in the yard and where she could find it. She later wrote me a note the following spring to tell me how beautiful the pink peony were.
My new husband and I moved to an older home that we picked out together. He liked the big rooms and I liked the garden. That house had been built in the 40's and we bought it from the original owner. The lady that had lived there as a widow for years had loved gardening as I do. There were treasures all throughout the yard. I spent the first spring and summer walking around in awe about what I had just acquired. As I was sad to leave my old house, it was a welcome sight to see the beauty blooming in that yard. It was in this house that I became a fan of hydrangeas. The most beautiful plant sat right by the front door and it must have had the perfect combination of light, water and air that it bloomed all summer. I have planted several hydrangeas in my yard and now realize how temperamental they are and how long it takes them to mature into such a beautiful plant. I have no idea how old that hydrangea was by the front door but it had given many years of beauty, no doubt. I hope to see my plants look like that some day. Now they are babies that I nurse along. We moved when my oldest was one and my baby was a newborn. I drove by recently and saw that the hydrangea is still there but the old red bud tree was gone.
The house we live in now is like a million others in the suburban Midwest. But it is my home which means that there are all kinds of things to see if you like gardening. I have areas of perennials that I have nurtured and cared for and I feel a sense of accomplishment as they continue to grow. I've let quite a few plants down in my day as my skills at gardening have evolved. There are all kinds of things in my yard from dead nettle to bee balm to morning glory to clematis to butterfly bushes to roses. Also a pink peony and bleeding heart. I find new beautiful things to plant every spring. I save 10 dollars a week all fall and winter long to pay for my new friends. The money goes into an envelope for the purpose of spring planting. Walking through the garden center for me is like a child in a toy store. Last year we had a population of rabbits that gave me a run for my money. Those little guys are cute until they start using your beloved plants as dinner. I bought some stuff at the garden center that smelled to high heaven when you first put it in your garden . . . not sure what was in there but get the feeling rotten eggs were involved. Husband did not find this appealing but his vote doesn't count in the garden. Anyway, the rabbits moved on. I turn an area of my yard into the vegi area in which I grow all kinds of things I use to cook with throughout summer and fall. I saw my barefoot 4 year old son pluck off a cherry tomato last summer and pop it into his mouth. That is a happy memory. My kids and I plant seeds each spring. We planted sunflowers all over and grew these tiny pumpkins from seed. They thought that was the coolest thing. I'm into cut flowers and have an area of zinnias . . . and my boys each cut a bouquet to take to their new teachers last fall. Last week we planted some pansies right next to the daffodils that were coming up and talked about the different plants in our garden. So this weekend, when I walked through the yard to check what was coming back . . . it hit me. I see the faces of people I've loved as I garden and remember special times in my life. Some day, my boys may see me in the gardens they tend to. It is a part of who I am.
As I said, the world's most boring journal written for myself and those who might want to know a little more about me.