There is nothing like death to make you appreciate life. While depression and sadness lurk around the edges, the center holds so much beauty. Right now in midsummer, my garden is blooming with lovely flowers, some of them taller than me. Feathery cleome nod in the breeze and Echinacea and bright yellow daisies peek out from under a tree. I planted a few cana lily bulbs in the spring without any sense of what they might grow into and now, there are this amazing bright red flowers, bobbing on tall stalks with red striped leaves. I am filled with amazement that I put them in the ground and they turned into these gorgeous surprises.
Alby was the gardener; it was part of his character that he could grow things. He had a magic touch with the earth; when I first met him, he planted almost an acre of vegetables down the hill from our house. He would set a pot of water to boil, run down and harvest his corn – from garden to table within 15 minutes. He grew flowers and got very angry when he discovered he was actually growing deer candy. He planted herbs for me to use in our meals. He tended the garden of our lives and after he died, I just could not take on the plants in his absence.
I have nearly always killed houseplants, although I have had more luck with the outdoor kind, but he was tending them. Friends have given me cuttings of jade, spider plants, lovely trailing things that flourished in their own homes. “You have to water them,” they would chide. I watered them, gave them pretty pots to live in but still they withered and died in a matter of days. I decided that I am just not a gardener at all. But this year, I changed my mind. I decided to channel some of Alby’s ability. I planted an herb garden in one of the few sunny spots around the house and now, in addition to my flowers, I have an abundance of three kinds of basil, rosemary, tarragon, oregano AND marjoram, and a thriving sage plant. There is an old wives’ tale that where a sage thrives, a strong woman lives. So here I am, world! I am growing plants and they are beautiful, strong and some of them are even tasty. Pesto, anyone?