Summer seems to have arrived on time in the Pacific Northwest for once. It’s been warm enough this week to kick on my air conditioning unit. It’s the free standing kind because most homes in the Seattle area have not needed air conditioning until the last decade it seems. What used to be a handful of too hot days at the most has turned into too many to rely only on closing blinds in the morning and opening windows at night. The world is changing.
I read that Siberia recently hit 100* F! It’s not only nature’s climate that is too hot though. The political and social climate is burning the country as of late. It’s a stressful time and full of anxiety for so many people right now. I have felt it myself and it’s always during these times that I try to connect a bit more with nature. So today, after being worn out from work, a run, and a CrossFit workout, I filled water jugs, grabbed my watering can and hauled the lot down to my plot in the community garden. I needed to take care of my little plot of nature that helps takes care of me.
I was the solo gardener tonight. I suppose it was a bit later than usual. My earbuds kept me company though. A playlist from 2017. I was living in my favorite home, other than my childhood one, when I made that music list. I was proud of the landscaping I had done and the various shrubs and flowers I planted. I made (okay, with the help of an Amazon kit, but I put them together) raised garden beds and planted things I actually ate!
It was a lot of work keeping everything alive in the summer. Not so much the native shrubs that were already established, but any new plantings plus the vegetables and shallow rooted shrubs like the azaleas. I thought about that today as I lugged the 5 gallon jug from my garden cart and swung it onto the bench in my plot. What a pain!
When I lived in the little blue house, watering was a chore, but relatively easy. I had a hose in the front yard and the back too. I set up a soaking system for some of the plants that worked fairly well. For the others, I would walk around with a glass of wine spritzer (some may scoff at this, but it’s what some Parisiennnes drink), in one hand and the other hand wielded the garden hose with its attachment of various watering strategies.
Just me. Out in the yard. By myself except for a wave or brief conversation from a neighbor. I knew them all. Not well, but enough to look forward to the exchanges. Some nights I didn’t feel like it, but I went out to water anyway. Most nights I enjoyed the ritual. Alone with my thoughts, the smell of flowers and the sky changing colors overhead. Stress seldom followed me around when I was out there.
These memories flooded me tonight. I don’t often think of how much I missed that little house with the whimsical yard. I still miss it a little, but as my wise cousin once told me….It’s just walls. And it was. Just walls. Walls enclosed the home inside. Nature surrounded the house walls outside. I suppose even the fences were walls including the one I painted once. Walls. Just walls. Not my walls anymore. They no longer contain me and I no longer maintain them.
As I was slowing the progress of the water weighted garden cart on my decent to my garden, wine tumbler in hand, I thought of my days watering the yard. The grass and shrubs and flowers and veggies. And here I was again. Alone. Watering. Absolutely no walls. I sipped my cold beverage from my tumbler. It was actually a cider. And yes, I realize that’s not exactly legal. A friend of mine pointed this out. I dare anyone to ask me if I care. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t jay walk and uses (pre-covid) the bright orange flag in cross walks. I am not a menace to society.
When I was done watering, I abandoned my cart for about a half hour to sit in the aqua colored, plastic Adirondack chair. It’s one of 5. None of them match in color and I think that’s what endears them to me. Perhaps it was a set of multi-colored chairs. I suppose I’ll ask the fearless leaders of the garden next time I see them. Maybe not. I like to think they were all purchased separately, The faded, cherry popsicle colored chair. The lime chair. The cobalt blue. And, quite honestly, I forget the color of the fifth one. Maybe yellow. Tonight I am making 5th a color. After all, usually 5th avenue is one of the prettiest streets of a city.
Chair colors aside, I took this time to compare my life now with my life then. I am still ritualistically watering my plants. I am still taking time to myself to be in nature. Though I didn’t encounter any tonight, I still have neighbors to wave at and chat with. I still relax and let my stressors stay where they belong. Within the walls. They all seem like they have walls.
Life is what we make of it. I could lament the loss of my walls or I can embrace the happiness I find in the everyday. The journey of taking the water from my borrowed walls to my borrowed garden. We are all borrowed. Things come and go. It’s important to take the time to appreciate what we all have and to make the best of what our lives have to offer right now.
After all…if you don’t water your garden, it sure as hell won’t grow.