My fingers are numb, and I’m walking like a bent zombie thing. I wake up every morning and pop Tylenol, cursing mildly because I want Aleve but I promised family I wouldn’t take it anymore (I’m on blood thinners, and apparently this is more than mildly unhealthy to do). I make that groaning growling noise old people always make when getting out of a chair, and stumble to find the coffee.
I’m sore, beat, achy, and ouchie. And I’m so happy. Because I am getting stuff done, you see. I’m not blooming where I’m planted (I hate that!), but I have been planting blooms, and larger things. This year we made the big dirt fire area into an actual fire “pit,” although pit is not the right word. How about oasis? Can there be a fire oasis? It’s not fancy, but it means the world to me. Oh how we’ve bickered through it all, and discussed, and dreamed. And then we just made it happen. Well, I made it happen, and my husband was a wonderful sport with an equally sore back!
When it was finally done, I should have rested. I should have helped John plant the vegetables, something he’d put on hold while I went slightly berserk for a few weeks. I should have started writing the book I’m plotting out in my head. Oh do I have “shoulds.” So naturally, I started another project, the beginnings of what will someday (soon) be a zen/fountain area. I lined the space with rocks, filled with mulch, placed a few plants. And when that was done, I noticed how much I hated the bushes by the side of the house that were blocking the view of the fire oasis from the deck. I began to trim them. A lot. I overdid it but I felt victorious as I limped inside, which was getting to be a regular thing. The next day, I yanked three of the bushes out with some sort of crazy fury. And a shovel.
As I started on the fourth and last bush, something inside my back decided the mild warnings weren’t cutting it and sent a serious message. I begged John for help, and he got the last one out for me. Mind you, these were big things, even after the huge haircuts I’d given them the day before. And John was just trying to work on his vegetable garden in peace. I think this was the day I went inside and begged him to get me one of those old oxycodone pills I’d kept since my back surgery several years ago while I forced myself to be still, but the frenzy is all blurring together now.
The next day I moved the heavy edging blocks into place and built a nice garden area on that side of the deck, mirroring the other side. I moved 25 of those things, and yes I counted through the pain. I also didn’t worry too much about leveling anything, because ouch, screw it. And the day after that I was out buying replacement plants, nothing too tall of course, we must be able to see my fire oasis from everywhere. Then home to plant, a little more mulch, and… Next project!
A landing in the yard by the deck stairs. Someday (soon is likely) it will lead to all the pathways I’m going to make. It was a bigger project than I planned, and my math skills failed me. My wonderful husband spent part of last Saturday running to the store with me for more gravel, and then later by himself for more sand. At some point, he gently tried to tell me one more time about his vegetable garden, and I finally snapped out of this crazed thing I was/am in enough to say oh, crap, I kind of suck, sorry. Then I went and mulched the “island” we’d created last year. And the next day I devoted to helping him by cleaning out the veggie garden area and making a much better looking spot for his new worm growing project among other things. See, the good news is John is also always making big plans, so as annoying as I may be, surely he has to understand at least a little!
Yesterday we finished the landing. John was much more involved, and I think full of forgiveness because I finally helped him like I should have all along. Of course, there’s more to do, more more more. This morning I announced to him that my back was really pissed at me and I planned to do no heavy lifting when I got home from work. I may or may not have been lying.
See, the one thing I can’t seem to get enough of is this crazy hard work/progress sweat. It stings my eyes, curls my short hair into some sort of bad 80s perm look, smells ranker than the middle school locker room, and feels… amazing! I look around in wonder at what just a month or two ago was just a mess of dirt and some crappy bushes, and I think, wow. I think holy shit. I made this. I mean, John made it too, but I’m sort of glowing in the I can do it mode of someone who only ever dug holes to play in the mud before this. I’m a steward, I’m growing things and growing myself, and no wonder I’ve been acting like a crazed lunatic, it’s addicting as hell to create and nurture.
Did I mention the birds? They love us so much. Sunday John asked me, over coffee on the deck, if I’d seen any hummingbirds yet this year, and I said no, not yet, and five minutes later I heard this noise, which I rudely compared to our largest dog Snoopy passing gas, and there it was, feasting at the feeders John had hung with homemade nectar. I couldn’t get a picture, but I succeeded in scaring it off. By the time John came out with more coffee five minutes later, two more hummingbirds had visited, and I knew what their chirps sounded like. How had I not noticed that sound all these years?
Anyway, there’s a lot of metaphors I could put here, which is what I usually do. But the truth is, taking care of nature feels exactly like taking care of nature, and taking care of myself feels like that too. I’m always all too aware that I have lost the chance to raise my daughter, and I think maybe all of this madness has come from rediscovering that I have a lot to offer to the world. I am nurturing, something I’d allowed myself to stop even trying for far too long. I’m good at it, and I’m loving it. Someday maybe I’ll show her all the things I’ve grown into since she left.
In the meantime, there’s some pathways to build!