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Missing My Garden

I’ll be taking a trip soon. It’ll be a short one, by most standards, but I’m having some anxiety around it. I expect that most of us get anxious before a trip, but for me, other than the usual “hurry up and get it all done before you leave” anxiety, something else comes into play.

“I’m going to miss my cat,” is my first thought.

Light-hearted, yes. And kitty will be just fine. But in truth, I miss my land, my weather, my house and the everyday details and changes that go along with a life.

I became especially aware of my sandy acre of land on which stands my small, many-windowed house when we were in the semi-final stages of a move to the big island, Hawaii, back in 2006.

We had set a deadline and were waiting for the house to sell. I was in the final hours of my soon-to-be-dismantled gardening/design business and perfectly happy about it. But there was something playing in the background, something uncomfortable niggling around the edges that I couldn’t quite identify.

I noticed my discomfort when fall clothing catalogs arrived in the mail. I grew up in the North and we wore warm clothes more often than summer fare. In Hawaii, I realized, I wouldn’t need winter gear. There was something melancholy about that. But even more vexing, I discovered, was the thought that in Hawaii, winter would never come. The season of rest would cease to be.

I wanted to be in Hawaii mostly because there were no seasons. Having a seasonal business on Cape Cod means that your life is basically guaranteed to be a blur of action focused on the short span of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. After 20 years of it, I was tired of the routine. Hawaii, and twelve months of more or less equal garden activity sounded good to me.

Still, a discomfort was steadily brewing and when I let the reality of it sink in, I realized I was desperately mourning the loss of spring. I could let the other seasons go but spring was the dearest and the thought of not experiencing it was breaking my heart.

Thinking that I’d miss seeing my tulips, my iris, the blooms of the sweet woodruff, the mass of blue Vinca, and, most upsetting, the scent of the lily of the valley along with all the abundance of spring was painful.

I found myself watching my acre closely, noticing the daily changes, noticing the weather and the wind, the birds who visited my trees, the stubble in my garden I hadn’t cut down, and the scents of the seasons. And I felt thankful for it.

Every season smells different. Being a keen sniffer, I notice that. That’s what I like the most about May. On a still night, the scents in my garden can take me to realms unknown!

The little everyday changes suddenly mattered a lot to me. Everyday life takes on a certain special-ness when you think you won’t be seeing it the same way again.

We never did move to Hawaii. In the end, that was fine by me.

So, I’m going on a little trip. Big deal. The yard won’t look any different after a week away. Still, I’ll miss it. I’ll notice the land where we go, and wonder what it would be like to live and garden on it – a game I always play when I travel- and let that be my solace. I’ll imagine what the soil in this unfamiliar place feels and smells like, how warm it would be, what I would grow and how my garden would feel both in the light and the darkness.

My make-believe garden will sustain me while I’m gone from this one and my return will be all the sweeter.

One cat in the yard

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