Daffodils make my heart sing each and every spring since I saw my first one — I would have been about 15. I had’t lived in places that had daffodils. It was love at first sight. I planted a hundred daffodil bulbs about 32 years ago. They multiplied and multiplied. I think it accurate to say that I have thousands now
I ran across e.e. cummings poem some years after that. It too was love at first sight.
in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why, remember how
in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so(forgetting seem)
in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if, remember yes
in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)
and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me, remember me
Grief stole the garden that grief and anger built.
I want it back.
As Doug was dying, he sat in the daybed by the bay window and watched me build the garden. He was so sick, and I had taken off work to be his caretaker. Sick though he was, I had many hours left to myself.
I sat in my family room and looked at my bare backyard. I had always planned a grand garden back there. Over the years I had made periodic attempts at it but my midlife career as a full-time employee and full time college student didn’t let much happen.
Now, I had time. And, miraculously, I had money.
I began the garden. I built a circular retaining wall to house daffodils, peonies, vinca and ivy. I bought a water fountain — a very modern design — so unusual for me. I planted dozens and dozens of white petunias and white double impatiens — I wanted the garden to glow in the moonlight. I tended to the wisteria and brought it back from the brink.
The white roses were pruned and fed. The furniture painted. New cushions procured.
As Doug lay dying, I poured my grief and anger into building the garden.
It was nearly complete, as complete as gardens get, when he was hospitalized for that last time. Three weeks or so at the hospital. The grass and weeds grew.
The night after he died, his daughter and I sat in the overgrown garden drinking wine and telling stories about him. Tears flowed freely.
The fireflies darted about the weeds and brush. Music played softly. The windchimes provided needed baritone to the cascading of the fountain.
It was such a lovely evening for such a cruel event.
As I took care of Doug’s estate and caught up with work, the garden was abandoned. So much to do – the garden didn’t seem like a necessity.
Soon it was an overgrown mess. I couldn’t catch my breath Couldn’t summon the energy to reclaim a garden on the edge of a forest from going wild.
I vowed to tend it as I realized what a necessity it was.
My dad died suddenly. The day of his funeral, I cleared an area near the fountain and planted 13 Madonna lilies — a flower of significance to him.
As I actively grieved him, I reclaimed the garden. Dozens of petunias, impatiens and a white Mandevilla. The Japanese climbing hydrangea bloomed for the first time. I found solace in the garden.
And then my best friend died.
And along with her, the garden.
I lost my will to bring life out of death.
It is still neglected though it provides the sudden bloom now and again — mock orange, Peruvian daffodils, lily of the valley.
During the pandemic, I vowed to reclaim it. But then I broke my foot. And then I contracted COVID.
Oh, how I long to get back to the garden. I dedicate it now to me. I need its life force to revive mine. It is now a necessity again.
It’s a jungle out there. I have neither mowed nor weed-whacked this year. Nary a weed, nary a blade. It’s a mess.
I have spoken with my supervisor, and we’ve agreed that I will be working mostly from home through the end of June. So my social-distancing will go on for a quite a bit longer. I confess I’ve grown weary of being alone 99% of the time — not counting the dogs and the cat who are going to be wild when I resume a normal schedule. They are enjoying this.
I’m enjoying it too other than the 99% alone part. I love my morning commute: I trundle out of bed, make my way to the coffee pot (which is on a timer) and pour a cup. This is usually at some gawdawful hour of the day, like 4:30 a.m. I dive into email — both work and personal. Around 6 a.m. or so, I have breakfast and then go take a quick snooze before starting my day in earnest at about 7:30 a.m. I usually lunch at the keyboard at about 11 a.m.
By 3 p.m., I’m down for another nap and up at 4 p.m. to check into email again and to check in with the boss. By that time of day, she’s hitting her stride, and there are things to tend to. I tend to them and then am pretty much done by 5 or 6 p.m., at which time I prepare dinner.
Weekends, I try to clean up the disarray of my constant presence at the keyboard and loathing of housecleaning. I’d like to add chair sitting to the repertoire — hence today’s resolution.
Lord knows the house is a flipping mess, but the weather is supposed to be glorious today, and I am resolved to begin the front yard project. I have high hopes.
I need to tame the weeds and free the rose bush, paint the Adirondack chair blue, and install the new bench my Best Daughter-in-Law in the Whole World provided for Mother’s Day.. I have 10 or so packages of mulch that have been stacked by the fence for a couple of years awaiting spreading. While I may not paint today, I do hope to get the mulch down. If I get that far, I will hang the nifty Kinsey sign and address stake. Woo Hoo. We’ll be high falutin’ then.
I also have plans to see my Sweet Baboo tonight. We haven’t been in the same room since February, and I miss him muchly. We’ve agreed that we’ve both socially isolated enough that neither is likely to be infected and we can get together. Hoo boy, I’m excited. I’m going to put on makeup and everything. It’s almost like a real date even if we’re just gonna hang out at his house.
This is my exciting life. It’s my life, and I love it. I worked hard to achieve this sense of contentment and satisfaction.
This weekend I went to my first writing retreat ever. I’m an addict now! The retreat was held at the Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, Kentucky. I met a fellow writing group member and a Facebook friend there. I’m not adverse to walking into groups where I know no one but it was nice to have a friends in attendance.
If you write and if you have never been to a retreat, you owe it to yourself. I am renewed, reinvigorated and re-examining my writing life.
I have a million reasons not to write. It’s time for that to come to an end. I enjoy it. I possess some talent and it’s a crime that I’m not doing what I want to do for all sorts of nonsensical reasons. So here I am. Blogging. Get used to it.
The retreat was led by Dana Wildsmith who can be found here. We had read-arounds and group discussions followed by a one-on-one with Dana. She worked with me on my one and only poem that I’ve written as an adult. (That dreck one writes as a teenager doesn’t count.)
I wrote this poem at last year’s Allegheny Echoes. Allegheny Echoes is a fabulous event focused on old-time music but also offering a writing track. Kirk Judd led it and insisted I could write a poem. And I did. But I don’t have the tools to evaluate it, so Dana’s help with shaping and clarifying it was invaluable.
The retreat, for me, was the proverbial kick in the pants that I’ve needed for a long time. Not only am I motivated to write, but I am motivated to garden. These two things I’ve struggled with for the past several years. I don’t know if it was part of the grieving process for me to not garden and to not write, or what, but I haven’t been. Both activities are ones that caused my very soul to sing and I’ve been mystified as to why I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do them.
The magnolia in the photo was taken at the Hindman Settlement School. The grounds were nicely landscaped and I wandered around one afternoon with a camera, but didn’t take too many pictures. I was busy writing. As it should be.