Category Archives: local haunts

lately in the garden

I promise that I’m planning some new posts on the blog that don’t feature garden photos in them! Lately it’s been the only time I’ve gotten the camera out of the closet, and sometimes it’s easier for me to put some thoughts down here as I go through the ritual of uploading these photos once or twice a week. May is always a busy month, but this one has barreled along with several big things simmering just below the surface. So there is a stress knot that’s taken out a short (or sort of long) term lease on my stomach that is requiring a whole lot of maintenance to unwind again and again. I do some of that in this place, so this is all I have to share at the moment.

Some of these photos are from my morning with F – it was our last morning of the school year, just the two of us. E will join us next week for the summer, and I’m looking forward to that. This summer will mark the fifteenth year that we’ve been wandering here. I owe it all to E’s daycare – they used to be located just across the street, and they’d visit the garden several times a week. I got into the habit with her as a baby, and it’s such a part of us now that it’s hard to imagine a week without a visit.

The other photos are from Saturday, when M joined me for an early walk together. The girls spent last week with my parents and sister’s family, and we had a quiet house of slightly different routines in their absence. I took advantage of a morning window to run before the temperatures heated up too much. But running helped with that stress knot I mentioned, so some days I went back for more running after work. Saturday was so warm that the garden was already toasty for our walk. Afterwards, I left town to pick up the girls and it rained and stormed at home while I was gone. I thought about all the white wedding chairs being set up earlier that day. I hope they squeezed in the ceremonies around the showers. I love the idea of a garden wedding, but I wasn’t brave enough to sweat the weather for ours. There are mornings when I turn a corner in that place and the breeze is perfect and the light is divine and I think that if I could, I’d get married again right there in that spot. Maybe we could have walked together until we stumbled upon the moment instead of planning for it. It’s sort of a charming thing to think of while I walk.

The girls discovered a high school scrapbook of mine in my childhood closet that was apparently VERY interesting, particularly the photo booth shots of me kissing someone other than their dad. For the first hour of our return trip they made me start at the beginning of the story – or at least my senior year – and tell every juicy detail that led me from there to here. The miles went by quickly, although I was hoarse in the end. It’s a funny concept – especially to an eight year old – to imagine a parent with a life before you entered it.

It’s Monday night, and I’m still worried and tense. I’m also tired and ready to fall asleep, but there are still a few things to do before I surrender to my bed. This summer schedule already feels so much better to me, despite the running around to various camps. The girls are big and self-sufficient. They make their own lunches and pack up their checklists and shower off their sunscreen and sweat on their own. F has a lot of new summer camps this year – big kid camps and sleep away ones. She’s so excited about everything that it’s contagious. She wants to tell me everything, but she’ll be asleep before her head hits the pillow. So will I.

Zig-zag bridges are designed to scare away the evil spirits that cannot follow you along the twists and turns. The thoughts and worries that keep you up at night are linear; they begin to drop off at each new corner as you navigate the shifts with ease. Even the stubborn ones can’t keep up with the turns. I’ve walked it twice, and it sort of works. The iris help too.

It’s summer in the garden, and that’s a gift. We’ll wake up Wednesday and see what’s new. And what we can leave behind us as we wander.

wednesday (and then saturday) morning in the garden

I have so many garden photos now, and I know it’s not the most original thing in the world now on this blog, but I still enjoy the process of taking photos and sharing them here. The first photos are from last Wednesday morning, when it was sunny and already HOT at seven o’clock in the morning. The second set is from this morning, with rain drenched blooms and just a hint of the sun that is now beaming down midday.

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This morning’s weather is more my speed at the garden. I was a few minutes late because I was streaming the royal wedding as I got dressed (quietly, in the bathroom!), then M and I watched a few moments before I left, and I finished the ceremony in the car on the way to the garden. I stayed near the entrance, but still found so many new things just ready to bloom.

And then I spent a few moments with this cardinal, full of song, and unafraid of my slow approach. It was just the sort of morning I needed to start a weekend of graduations and celebrations and maybe even a nap or two.

saturday morning in the garden: on community, and aloneness

I have a routine on Saturday morning that I’ve fine-tuned over the years. Calling it a “routine” implies just that, when it’s more of an aspiration that I sometimes manage with lots of forethought and planning. There are many things that can take over a Saturday, but I do my best to schedule as many things around the morning hours. I give myself permission to show up a little late to a fall soccer game or sign up for the second shift of a Saturday event. I layout my clothes the night before, and I bring up my phone before I go to bed, set the alarm on it, and tuck it inside a book on the floor by my bed. The girls are both actual and might-as-well-be teenagers with regards to sleeping now, and they like to stay in bed for hours on Saturday mornings. M gets up so early during the work week, that he also enjoys rolling over and catching a couple extra hours of sleep as well. So I do my best to be quiet.

I work in an open office, and the longer I work here, the more I realize just how tiring it can be sometimes to have so many messages hitting my brain at the same time. Even when I’m focused on what I’m doing, I hear the visitors at the door, or various phones ringing, or conversations around the room. My email inbox is always receiving something, and in the afternoon the text messages around E’s schedule start popping up on my phone. Maybe a year ago, maybe it’s longer now, I realized that I needed to remove myself from that space for a few minutes each day, so I try to do that around lunch time. Even if it’s for a very short time, it still feels like a reset button to me.

And that’s how I feel about Saturday mornings – a reset button from the work week. I feel like I need the alone time, but admitting that feels strange, and not entirely accurate. I spend most of the week longing for the weekend to reconnect with my family, and kicking off that time with time spent alone feels at odds with that. So I’ve stopped considering it “alone time”, and I just think of it as “aloneness”. The definition of aloneness is presence, fullness, aliveness, joy of being, overflowing love. You are complete, you are enough.

I love my Wednesday morning walks with F in the garden, and I loved them with E as well. But a couple of years ago I stopped getting volunteers when I’d ask at dinner on Friday nights –  “Who wants to get up and go to the garden with me in the morning?” – so now it’s usually just me. 

I arrive when it opens early for walkers, at seven. I take a different route each time. I look for small things budding in places that most would overlook. I stretch out all of the stiffness of a desk job. It’s fragrant, and smells clean and damp and new. I see the same faces that I see each week, we greet each other in passing. Sometimes I run into people I know from elsewhere that have built this ritual into their lives as well. I notice when there is someone new I haven’t seen before, and it makes me glad. I want others to know this secret too.

I leave the garden just before eight, and head a few blocks south to the farmers’ market in the adjacent park. I have a firm time limit here – twenty minutes – twenty-five tops. The stands are just opening up, and so the lines are short and it’s doable. I pick up flowers and exchange good mornings and light conversation with the sellers. I’ve been walking for an hour among flowers, so the abundance of options for taking home feels overwhelming at times. The regulars are there – all the people that want first crack at the offerings. An older couple wheels in a giant wicker shopping basket, and they purchase buckets of flower each week. They must spend hundreds of dollars some Saturdays. I once parked next to them at a gas station, and saw the flowers in the back of their expensive station wagon. They waved with recognition.

I set the time limit because I have a yoga class to get to. I started this class several years ago, back when I had just completed physical therapy for my feet and my PT was taken aback that I couldn’t touch my own toes. I was the least stretchy person, and my balance was abysmal. I parked myself in the back corner, and whispered to the instructor that I had no idea what I was doing. It’s a power yoga class, so the holds are long, and the poses and add-on’s are challenging, but I was instantly hooked. My body is a different body now, but so is my mind. There is a community to this room, and to other classes that I take at the Y. I’m no longer that person in the corner anymore, silent, unsure.

During class on Saturday I thought about aloneness, and then community. I numbered dozens of people I had connected with in some way that morning as I deepened my breathing on the mat. When I miss a week, I miss these people; when I return, they ask me how I’ve been, and I do the same.

I can remember a time in my life where making new connections in a room full of strangers felt daunting and exhausting. Now it gives me energy and adds fullness to my day. I ease back into the house with a late breakfast that is simple and special. I pour a cup of coffee and enjoy a different light in the kitchen. The flowers rest in the sink, awaiting fresh water, a trim, and a vase. I see their blooms all week long, and they take me back to the quiet currents of community, overflowing love.