I want a garden. Not just that, I want to be a gardener. I want to step barefoot into the backyard to harvest a salad. I want to heal using herbs that wind into the depths of our property. I want to fill dye-pots with hues plucked from a medieval-style plot. I want to send Eleanor out to pick favorite blooms to decorate our dinner table. I want a wide brimmed hat and dirt under my fingernails. Then, I remember that this is a rented home and close the door.
This has been a sabotaging obstacle for me: this pesky renting, this tiny apartment. I keep myself from doing projects because I'm waiting for a bigger bedroom, an attic sewing room, a pantry, and that garden I truly can call my own. For years, I've been shying away from tending a garden because of the ever-present hope that we might move.
A little while ago I went to a garage sale with my sister-in-law in a very poor rural area. The house wasn't much to look at, but the garden was sensational. It was brilliantly covered with beautiful flowers and herbs. She had small gardens with decorations and vignettes scattered throughout. She spoke with great fondness about her plants. It was clear that she was devoted to them and in turn, they gave her great joy. My sister said, "she's really bloomed where she's planted." I agreed but was internally thinking it a bit of a cliche- one of those phrases you see on stepping stones or fence plaques. But after we got into the car, I though more about it. She really did bloom, very literally, where she was. She created an oasis of beauty spread out before her double-wide. Maybe I could, too.
Indeed, it's expensive and a lot of work to start a proper garden when we might just leave it. But little things have been creeping into the yard- the determined mint, the strawberries that might actually produce if the woodchucks don't get to them first, and a scattering of cheery violets and other little flowers and greenery fill the gaps between the blades of grass. If these plants aren't speaking to me, my seven year-old certainly is! I need to succumb to the fact that I surely have years -plural!- to continue living here and make it bloom.
It might be nice for the next tenants to have a little beauty left behind.
This gardening idea, along with our farm fantasy, is not new. Nora and I have been dreaming about our future garden filled with lilacs, apple trees, daffodils, herbs, and favorite veggies. We already have strawberries as berries of all kinds are high on the list. Lately, she's been sure to comment on the bleeding hearts that we see as we walk through the neighborhood. Knowing the generosity of our neighbors, I sent a plea to our neighborhood forum and asked if anyone had this particular plant to share. I got many responses and immediately pounced! We loaded up the wagon and a shovel and made our way to a hidden garden down the street. We dug up the plant and replanted it under the dappled light of our (neighbor's) tree. Its close to Sweet Pea's grave where, indeed, Eleanor keeps a piece of her heart. The delight I have gotten in its presence makes me think that I might just be getting my hands dirty more often... right here where I'm planted.