It was overcast this morning, and cool in the garden. Wearing a lightweight sweater and shorts this morning felt wrong for August, but I’ll take it. It felt like “camp weather” while I walked, something closer to late April or early October.
This week went so well, far better than I thought it might. We all got such a boost from the change in schedule and activity. E’s school start time is a little later than last year which has made a big difference in the tenor of our mornings. I still get her up at the same time, but we’re more relaxed in the process. F and I drop her off – a quick ten block trip and back, and then the two of us have a leisurely breakfast before walking ten blocks in another direction to her school. The weather has been nothing short of phenomenal this week, and that has certainly helped the transition tremendously.
I’m now waking up about an hour earlier than I did during the summer, and every night I seem to forget this impending loss. I push back bedtime as late as always, and so I’m hitting a wall each afternoon at my desk. Sleep transitions are always harder than mental ones, but I’ll get there. Last night I think I was the first one down and out.
But this morning I was awake with the light, and I left everyone else in bed for the morning. I ate oatmeal in the car and watched the early morning walkers arrive and meet up with friends. Years and years ago, before M and I were a couple, I was dating someone who moved here briefly. He rented a room in a house near the garden, and the owner of the house had a membership card on a necklace that hung on a hook by the back door. She encouraged her boarders to use it for garden walks as she did daily. I rarely went to the garden during those days in graduate school, but here I am, just like her, waking early to walk the winding paths.
We call the flowers below “Erin’s flowers”, and they are everywhere in the garden right now. And that’s perfect because it’s almost her birthday. She should be thirteen in a few weeks, and so really nothing is perfect at all. Not even this place, this garden.
When I first starting walking here I thought it was perfect. There were so many gardeners tending to every leaf and petal. Flowers were planted in their prime, and plucked immediately following their peak. The grounds, the fountains, the walls, the ledges – all of it seemed perfect, the kind of ideal garden that could never exist in your own backyard.
I’ve walked it for so many years now and I know better. Everything blooms and then fades away, you can see the changes every week. Some seasons spill over with abundance, acres of tulips in every color imaginable. Some mornings are quieter, you have to walk awhile and look a little closer to see new growth or to study the shape of a flower as it curls back in on itself. Some places in the garden are more manicured than others. I enjoy the symmetry and balance and composition, but I’m more comfortable in the meandering, less ordered spaces. We’ve learned the hard way that we have very little control over the ordering of time or progression or stability. It can be enough to simply show up each day on a winding path – in walking shoes or running ones – and let the rest of it settle onto the gravel base around us.
The sun came out just as I was rounding the bend of the back corner to head back to the entrance. It’s raining now, as I type this, and Saturday feels clean and fresh open in front of me.