I moved out of my family home in November 2018. It’s called a family home because it was the house I purchased with my (then) husband. A house about 25 miles north of Seattle or (as we talk about distance in Western Washington) an hour and forty minutes (or more) in rush hour traffic from Seattle. I didn’t miss the commute, but I sure missed my garden. My garden was my sanctuary. I also missed my marriage (then) too. I was just this heart broken woman in the beginning stages of a divorce with only a few familiar plants I brought with me. Those were the few plants small enough to stick in containers that could survive and brighten my shaded veranda.
One of the first things I noticed when I moved in was the community P-Patch almost directly in front of my building. How convenient would that be?? So I googled P-Patches for Seattle and my heart sank. The community gardening plots had a wait list. A two year wait list! I entered my name and contact information anyway. I had no idea how long my divorce would take and in the current real estate market, in and around Seattle, I didn’t know if I would be able to purchase any land in the future. So I resigned to adding more containers to my veranda while I waited for a small piece of land to tend to become available.
Very quickly my veranda became my new sanctuary. I didn’t need to do hours of yard work to reap the calming benefits. I missed getting dirty and sweaty and all the calories a large yard demanded, but here I was able to sit and think and journal and just be. Winter came and I still went outside to sit. I’m glad I did because I realized I needed to fill my hummingbird feeder more often. Hungry little hovercrafts in the winter!
When I had a large yard, lots of birds lived in and around it. I could hear their different songs, but I would hardly ever see them until I slowed down and was still for a while. I had no problem being still in my new sanctuary. And birds came. Not as big of a variety, but very cheerful feathered creatures. A few weeks before spring arrived, I noticed a little hummingbird nest in a bush I could view from the veranda!
I watched the mama bird tend the nest alone. Apparently male hummingbirds hit and run. I wish I hadn’t researched them as I was on egg watch. Two babies emerged before long. I witnessed the mother feeding the babies. I did my part by keeping my feeder full of nectar. Months after, a hummingbird would visit my feeder, but first fly within a few feet of my face as if to say hi and thanks. It’s possible it could have just been defending it’s food (why do I have to Google??), but I prefer to think it just liked me. I needed that to be my reality. That hummingbird family was a gift from the universe.
As the Earth warmed once again with spring, so did I. I still had times when I needed to sit in the fresh air outside to make sense of things, but I was falling in love with my container garden and the little bistro table I presided over. I watched the blackberry vines creep down the white washed retaining wall across from my veranda. They were resilient and I knew I was too. And if that tiny little hummingbird could make a good life alone, so could I. So I made a promise to myself that I would go out more whether or not I had friends to join me or not. It’s okay to do things alone.
One summer night I came in through the main lobby door after taking out the recycling. I noticed a flier for a Hawaiian themed Neighborhood Night Out (NNO). I immediately calendared it because it would be in the garden nearby and a great way to meet my neighbors. Anyone living in Seattle knows about the Seattle Freeze. It’s a real thing and it seems like the only thing to melt it is an event. The first one I experienced since living in my new place was the snow storm. I tried out my snow shoes in my neighborhood and everyone out sledding or scraping driveways waved or said hello. NNO would be a new reason for people to step outside their comfort zone and actually talk to one another.
I donned a Hawaiian dress and took a bottle of wine to share to the neighborhood event by myself. The universe rewarded my bravery. As it turned out, the P-Patch was not part of the 2-year wait list. I was awarded my own plot, in full sun, that night! I also met some very nice people. I love the idea of a community garden. All these little plots of land patched in to something bigger. I have been digging in the dirt, planting, planning, and even socializing in my new garden. The great part is everyone there is actually interested in what I’m planting and tips, wine, and conversation is shared.
I still sit on my veranda and have my quiet time, but I now have a social garden too. I’ve grown a lot this past year and not just the green stuff on my veranda or in my P-Patch.