My barn, having burned down, I can now see the moon. ~ Mizuta
The weather has been autumnal at Full Moon Cottage, cooler than temperatures established as “normal,” but perfect for blowing up gardens. More about that later.
Our Labor Day weekend was filled with our labor and its fruits. The vegetable garden was harvested, yielding dozens of butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, and those beds were turned and blanketed for winter. Lettuce, peas, and some herbs are still growing in raised beds, and there looks to be a second grand harvest of raspberries coming down the pike as well.
Then, since the weather was so enticing, I tackled the front flower garden. Well, I enticed Phillip to tackle it, and joined in with my smaller shovel. I’d meant to do all of this a year ago, and then, for a month, we put our home on the market before deciding it was too late in the year to move further North. And to be perfectly honest, we struggled with leaving Full Moon. Also, the car we use for transporting dogs is an old VW bug, and every time we had a showing, we had to cram into it with five dogs, one of whom reliably puked all over us before we’d gotten to the end of the drive…We looked like a third-rate clown car in search of a circus. The move wasn’t meant to be. When we took Full Moon off the market in late October, it was too late to rearrange the garden.
Now is the acceptable time. Some plants were ill and needed a heave-ho; some needed to go forward and others back; and everyone needed to be divided. Way at the back was a flowering quince that for years has flowered beautifully…in a ring around her ankles. No matter how I pruned, fertilized, cajoled, danced under the moon, sang to her (or maybe because of these things), she would not bloom from the knees up. I hoped that planting her in a new location might help, but we quickly learned her roots would not yield. Amazing tenacity, or stubbornness: a lesson that a fine line separates these.
We both dug and hauled roots away. We were left with a ball of roots resembling concrete, the circumference of a foot or more, and it would not budge. Phillip used a Sawzall, straps tied to the mower, then the hitch on the pick-up, and we both dug again. Nada. Zip. Zero. He’s 6’3” and was almost knee-deep in the hole surrounding this clump of roots when we called it a day. Last night it rained and softened the earth enough for him to make quicker work of it this morning. Farewell, my stubborn friend. A bit of give would have saved you.
Meanwhile, I cut back and rearranged the plants I could, and uprooted some from our “spare” garden, or from the back gardens, and transplanted them. A few others have been ordered, so their places were chosen and left open till they arrive.
To stand back and look at the garden right now, you’d think me a troubled gardener, at best. I blew up a garden that looked fine two months ago…but I knew it needed rearranging and dividing, and so, we put our backs into it and did the work required.
Gardening is a long game; a gardener truly never knows if she’ll live long enough to see the dreams and designs she plants, but someone will. And all through the winter months, I’ll be dreaming of how the new arrangement will work out, knowing, of course, it will be at least two years before I really see what I envisioned, and what my darling sweetheart helped me create. Knowing, of course, that 3-5 years hence, the dividing will have to be accomplished again. That’s how gardens grow and stay healthy. How all living things stay healthy.
I think that’s what’s happening in the world right now, perhaps not as consciously on the part of everyone, but certainly, systems, institutions, and ideas about the ways we live out equality and justice are changing, and we all know how humans welcome change: like a flowering quince.
We’re being invited to set down old ways and take up new ideas with clearer vision. And it’s happening in many gardens at once, with many gardeners articulating specific ideas about the designs and directions the gardens should grow…during a time of pandemic, and with the constant and dire reminders of our climate crisis. We’re all consuming a diet of unremitting stress, and we’re told the world may well be shaken and bounced substantially more in the months to come. Boom, goes the garden we knew and loved, blind to its flaws and diseases.
My life has been lived during a glorious span of relative peace, economic stability, accessible public education, and in a country where healthcare and vaccines helped most of us avoid disasters less fortunate humans on our planet suffered. But a casual glance at history tells us such golden epochs don’t last, usually because greed, progress, technology, and pleasure exploit others and the Earth, and those choices cannot be sustained. Too few benefit from the toil of too many. At any rate, and at the end of my lifetime, the wheel turns. Rome fell, plagues raged, and World Wars happened at the end of some people’s lives, too.
Right now, the garden is looking quite blown up. And there are a few stubborn-rooted plants that will resist change even if it means their destruction.
And, increasingly, I’m OK with all of this. No one else walking the planet has escaped upheaval, as I’ve written before. Here’s ours. What are our choices and how shall we respond? And can we take a breath and look at the moon? At all the good that can come of this?
The world’s a long game, like a garden. While we can, let’s put our backs into it, figure out what our gifts allow, and get the work done. Many of us won’t live to see how the design turns out, but someone will, and they will recall us as people who hoped; they will remember us as gardeners who planted dreams.
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