The weather for the past several days has been beautiful. I have been working in the garden. I have always loved working in the garden, but I find myself working more slowly and carefully these days, paying more attention, being totally present.
I plant the potatoes that have begun to sprout in their storage bin which hangs in the hallway to the basement. I tie up the peonies. Usually I don’t remember to do this until after they have their heavy blossoms and I am trying to rescue a tad more time out of their extravagant but short-lived flowers. I put out all the compost, 2 garbage cans full, and carefully work it in and around the peonies and roses and in the areas where, next weekend, I will be planting all the vegetables and herbs, which we have started from seed.
I make a distinct path between the raspberries and the potato patch, usually a jumble of weeds and other “volunteers,” using tiles and stone countertop samples from a dear friend, who was an architect and interior designer, who passed away five years ago. Also, in the herb garden, I create a more permanent and clearly defined path, using some of these same tiles. I take the rocks and stones and sea glass from boxes and drawers in the house, collected over the last 40 plus years from all variety of walks and vacations and journeys, and line the path from the house to the garage.
A couple years ago, I ordered a small piece of bamboo edging because I needed that diameter of bamboo for a project I was working on. With the few pieces that I needed removed, the edging has been rolled up sitting on our back porch for the last couple of years. Today I find a place for the edging, which actually helped to widen and consolidate the small sitting space in the backyard, making more room for chairs.
As I grab my gardening tools, I find a pile here and there in the garage to unclutter, to recycle, to reuse in the garden (which is where I rediscovered the treasure trove of tiles and stone counter samples). This, of course, has also helped to open the space in the garage.
And while I work, I munch on horseradish leaves– spicy, hot, bitter. I watch a male cardinal land on the volunteer oak tree and its mate in one of the pots on the stone fence we built, where we have planted some kale. Sparrows and a surprise red-breasted grosbeak are at the bird feeder. I notice that the vines have begun to grow over the chest of our sculpture of Mary. JB’s big welded steel sculpture, that he made over 50 years ago, is covered in wisteria and grape ivy and looks like it is sinking. A cabbage butterfly lands in the raspberries. The Latino neighbor to the north of us, who lives in the basement with his elderly mother, just got home from work and offered to do some shopping for us if we need anything. The old Ethiopian neighbor to the south of us sits in the shade talking on his cell phone, while his son lifts weights. JB brings me a tall glass of water. I put some fresh mint in it. He refills it when I empty it. The daffodils are dying, but the jonquils and money plants are vibrant, scattering randomly their bold yellow, white, and purple throughout the yard.
Tonight we build a fire in our fire pit. The wonderful exhaustion from physical labor, working the earth over the past three days, makes me feel like I am timelessly floating in slow motion. We talk softly about our daughter-in-law who is pregnant and has just shared with us that the baby is the size of an orange. In these unprecedented times, even without knowing what the future may hold, even when we are totally exhausted, we never stop preparing the soil and planting.