Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
My Garden, Like Me
by Linda Loveland Reid
"Let's say you don't plant beyond the front lawn," said Harry. "Sure," I replied.
Today my garden covers one acre and many motifs—a desert covers the sewer mound, the roses never stop inside the stone edging laid one hot summer by my son and his new wife, the vegetable garden is claimed at the end of every season by morning glories, the fruit trees so lovingly watered, and watered, and flowers everywhere. The hydrangeas are my favorite because they are so not temperamental; they like to please me.
The fallen cactus branch that I hauled away in the backseat of my car, that sat in a bucket a year before it hit dirt, was from a deli near my daughter's house and is growing much faster than I'd ever thought. I love cactus because it reminds me of Mama. She died last year. She was, prickly, difficult, didn't like too much cold. I miss her.
The vegetable garden provides—it oozes fecundity. Did I provide? When my children needed me those three infamous years that burn in all of our memories, was I there for them? Why don't I feel I was there for them? I plant tomatoes, squash, beans…I give them away in bags. "Here, kids, let me feed your soul."
The flowers are abundant, so much color—I can't get enough. The yard is a pallet, red here, pink, yellow there. Like my paintings, the garden is bold, not much minimalism. I don't do minimalism. Too much food on the table, too much color, too many plants. It's all good, but knowing when to stop, when to sum up, this is a quality.
Those plants that struggle have a short time to prove themselves. Out they come! Ripped up by what root is left. This satisfies some killer instinct—disappointment tromped on, patience at an end. Killer-like when the mosquito must die!
The garden gets my time. I nourish each plant, know every brush and shrub, notice every new bud and bloom. Do I notice everything about the humans in my life? Do I see the drawn smile, the eagerness to share, the frightened eyes? Do I dig in, dig down, explore—spend time?
Do my grandchildren even know who I am?
So much variety…vegetables, yuccas, trees, pond (that damn pond!), apple and peach trees, figs that never ripen. What does that fig tree want?! I water, I prune, I worship-dance around its trunk. Maybe I'll dig it up—make room for something that loves me.
I do and do not have control over my garden—like my life. I cultivate, plant, water, curse, love, yes, I even cried for joy when the peony bloomed its huge delicate pinkness after five years.
My garden lives, has a presence—amazes. "How do you do it," my friends ask. "Guess I just love it," I reply. Hummmm?
My garden lives, mistakes get made, the effort goes on. It continues to grow, hopefully, like me.
Linda Loveland Reid is a Sonoma County writer, gardener and painter who also directs community theater. Her latest novel is "Touch of Magenta." Find out more at www.lindalovelandreid.com.
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