Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Guerilla Gardening

While lying in bed this morning, thinking, which is something that I’m really good at, I started to dwell on my old flower beds. The first year after leaving them in the care of someone else was an extremely stressful one for me, and I often found myself riding by them on a daily basis, becoming more alarmed with each trip down the street. Over the course of that long, hot summer, they had become sad and neglected and their condition just fueled the abundance of tears that I had been crying then.

I spent a great deal of time digging around in those flower beds and I loved weeding. Never a chore, like washing a floor or cleaning a bathroom, weeding was relaxing. My mind could wander where it wished, to think or not, whatever I desired. Weeding became a form of meditation, soothing, even though physical labor was involved.

Inheriting a love of gardening was a gift that my mother gave me. As a child I can remember wondering why she would want to be out in the heat of the summer, hot and sweating, and God forbid, getting her hands dirty. It wasn’t until I got older and had empty spaces around my house and yard that I was able to appreciated what growing flowers meant, and how they filled my life with beauty.

My flower beds started out straight and narrow and yet looking back I realize that over the years they gradually changed, as did I. Never one who liked things with hard edges, they evolved to become more winding and rounded and less severe. I liked them full and a little wild, lined with natural rocks or field stones, or just edged with a shovel to keep the crabgrass at bay. I was always looking for a place to plant something new, which often meant needing to dig another bed, pretty much running out of room in my yard as the years went by.

That first year after my house was sold I had a really difficult time coming to terms with the fact that the person who now lives in it, is not a gardener, and which truly is an understatement. Prior to going to closing I gave him a tour of all the plants in my yard, and tried to impress upon him the heirloom quality of some of them, and what they meant to me. Judging from the looks of things now, I’m sure he wasn’t listening. This experience has taught me that there are some people who should never own homes with yards or gardens. Sweeping off green tinted concrete is as close as they should ever have to get to yard maintenance.

Not being a gardener does not make one a bad person. It was just hard to watch as those beds became overrun with weeds that grew up past the dining room windows or watch plants that had been there for years, wither away to become brown and dead from lack of water. I often fantasized about becoming a “guerilla gardener,” sneaking over in the dead of night wearing a coal miner’s hard hat with head lamp, and secretly weeding and watering. I don’t think he would notice, and I do believe my old neighbors might appreciate the effort.

I’ve come to terms with this now though. I am not gardening anywhere at this point in my life. Maybe I’ll do it again and maybe I won’t. I’ll always have a pot of herbs or a geranium on a windowsill somewhere and can be content with that. Despite the fact that they are now overgrown and unloved, I remain hopeful that one day the gardens in my old yard will bloom in all their previous splendor, and will be lovingly tended by some gardener yet to come.

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