Monday, April 6, 2009

I played in the dirt today. Spring is here, and there is a spot near my back door that has been crying out for cultivation. Two years ago I moved a very old woodpile from that location. Since it gets plenty of sun, I put a few candy roaster squash in and harvested a bumper crop. Last year it lay fallow.

Many things lay fallow at Shady Hollow last year. It was in April that my husband became ill. It was a long spring and summer filled with surgeries, visiting nurses, therapy, fast trips to the ER and near misses with the Lord of the Underworld. The seemingly never-ending cycle lasted well into fall. While I nursed my husband the garden took care of itself. It endured drought and hardship outside as we dealt with pain, uncertainty, and the shadow of death inside.

Time seemed to stop inside the cottage. Winter came and we learned how to live with my husband in a wheelchair. We learned how to cope with simple things not being so simple anymore. When the Silver Wheel turned and the first crocus emerged to sample the air and then bloom, our hearts sang.

He can no longer walk down the hill to the Fairy Tree and see the back garden from ground level. This bothers him, for we tended the plants and trees there together for nearly 18 years. He can see it from the deck, however, which gives him a birds-eye view. So he hasn't lost the hidden garden, he is just looking from a different vantage point. The fairies, well they come up to visit with him. (Yes, there really are fairies at the bottom of our garden.)

If things go well, the garden spot at the back door will soon be home to tomato and cucumbers with a few flowers thrown in for good measure. The remaining spots will also be tilled and will become home to various other vegetables and flowers. I will once again go into battle with wild honeysuckle and poison ivy vines that are itching to take over. If things go well, the majority of the stain under my fingernails will be Shady Hollow soil and not just the grime from my job at the factory. If things go well, there will be herbs drying in every nook and cranny. Motherwort, mugwort, catnip, sage, lemon balm, bee balm, spearmint, hmmmm, the cottage smells delicious when the herbs are freshly harvested and hug to dry.

So much of what was normal here changed last April. The new normal is far removed from the old. To me, who is as much a crazy plant lady as a crazy cat lady, I regained a little piece of the old normal today. I played in the dirt.



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