Finding My Happy Place

“I’d just love to get my hands in some dirt”

Those were the words my beloved Gramma would say so often to me when she was living in Arizona. She was born in Vermont and lived here until 13 years before her death. The love my Grandfather and she shared for gardening was passed down to me. The long Vermont winters, filled with cold and darkness, make the awakening of Spring that much more rewarding.

In my youth I took no interest in the art of gardening. I recall once planting a (just one) beet seed in gravel, watered it and when nothing occurred, I moved on.  Working the earth took place in every household I knew as a kid, I inevitably learned and apparently filed away some of what I observed. My first attempt was met with many challenges, finding the right plot of land, tilling and re-tilling, picking stone after stone. I tried this and that and a dozen years later, know exactly what I find best to grow for our needs.

The art of it all came to me long after the labor. For many years  it was a chore, a duty. We had the land, we had  to use it. Period.

Fast forward several years and a couple moves later to when we owned our own land and I began having garden visions.  My first garden at our new home was a whimsical garden. Painted sap buckets in a variety of colors held annual flowers and cherry tomatoes. A small patch of sweet corn provided hours of hiding for my then 3 and 7 year olds. We had raised rows for string beans, peas, and tomatoes. We had hills for the many varieties of squash we decided to try. My rows were S curves, some rows went this way, some went that way. Our little garden flourished. Our harvest was abundant, yet our skill set needed improvement.

We experimented for the next several years with different layouts, moving tomatoes from here to there, eliminating corn (the yield too small for the space consumed), learned that we could do 2 plantings of greens and beans and on an on. We love improving upon our own creations so we decided to instill our own watering supply, relying upon Mother Nature for such. My husband created a gravity fed system using the little stream on our property. This not only serves as our watering source for the garden, but fills our swimming pool each spring.

We have had years when we solely did container gardens, and others where we implemented the full earthen bed. We tried raised beds, which were abundant and grew to new heights, yet also came with the daily task of removing garter snakes by the dozen (literally) from the crevices where the logs met one another. Not good for an individual such as myself with a significant, yet ridiculous fear for the harmless creatures. I became frightened to even enter my bountiful garden that year, for fear of those sneaky serpents. I would send my strapping husband out daily to remove and inspect before I could enter the vicinity. The scars of that summer still stamped in my memory.

I’ve battled the beetles, the slugs, the blight, the drought and the saturation of very wet seasons. Year by year what began as a chore became a release of endorphins. A therapeutic undertaking, an essential piece to our annual summer plans.

Then came the year we decided to forego the garden. I decided to do my annual flowers, and of course there were my perennials I would be able to tend to and enjoy. This would do for the season. We felt the extra time would be beneficial and the break from the work, an earned respite.  Although I did enjoy respite from many back aches, I missed getting my hands in that dirt. Just as Gramma said so many years before, I now knew what there was to miss.

We have a greenhouse now which we built using solely recycled materials. We still use our gravity feed for watering, only now we have graduated to a soaker-hose system.  We start our plants from seed and savor the literal fruits of our labor. The little girl who planted a beet seed so long ago finally found out what the fuss was all about.

Let the Light Shine

I failed. I failed at being patient. I failed at being understanding. I failed at controlling my temper. I reacted to a comment and before I knew it, was neck-deep in a war of words with my husband.

Twenty years we’ve been together. Twenty years and we still have moments in which we act like spoiled kids and throw insults at each other. I should have taken just one second to evaluate what it was he said to me, how he said it, and whether it was frustration directed at me or just frustration in his voice, directed at no one in particular.

In hindsight I saw clearly that he was not directing any animosity toward me, nor was his frustration because of me. He simply made a comment and I flew into a rage. I was convinced he was attacking my character.

What had begun as a beautiful, fun day, full of hope and love, was at once turned to darkness. I singlehandedly darkened the entire world around me.

If only I had controlled my temper. If only I had taken just one moment to be sure I was reacting appropriately. It’s so difficult for me to admit when I’m wrong. It’s paralyzing. To have this one person in my life that sees me at my worst, best and all the adjectives in between and loves me all the while is really something, isn’t it? To know without question that someone in this world will accept us when we aren’t lovable to say anything about likeable, this is the fabric of life.

To be loved means you must love. To find acceptance you must be accepting. To be seen at your most vulnerable allows a loved one to see you authentically. We race through each day and show our smiles to passerby’s, maybe we gaze downward to avoid eye contact in an attempt to keep to ourselves. We tell those who ask that we are well even if we are crumbling inside. We as humans lie daily in our quest to be accepted.

I can’t hide from my husband. He sees and I believe, feels my moods as they change. He can anticipate a good day on the horizon. He can anticipate a storm before the clouds even fill my sky. He can also tolerate all that I am. It’s not easy to see all and still love someone completely, without condition, yet he does just that. He loves me for all I am, and in spite of all I am. In my husband’s eyes I am flawed, damaged and beautiful. His love stabilizes me. He is the glue to the fabric of my soul.

I couldn’t say why I have been blessed with such love. I can’t say that I am to him all he is to me. I hope to be, I try to be, but I know he exceeds and surpasses me at every turn. My husband is everything we should all hope to be. Tolerant, loyal, forgiving and honest.

I failed in a moment, but I triumphed in life. Today I will attempt to be a success in regard to my treatment of others, of my husband, and my children. It isn’t easy loving me. It isn’t simple. I came into the world as a complicated soul and I believe that is how I’ll leave it. I don’t apologize for my misstep, an apology is usually (in my experience) a short-term solution and a way for the assailant to excuse their behavior. Instead, I admit to my wrongs. I own my actions and get up and try again to be a better me.

I thank God and all the energy in this world for finding me the one soul I would need throughout my journey here. I give thanks for being so lucky as to have found this love, this friendship so long ago. My husband is my light and his light shines endlessly.

 

 

The Pets That Own Me

 

Two cats, a miniature dog, a teenaged boy, a husband and an neurotic-perfectionist of a wife all coexisting and learning to share space. I find it infuriating and amusing (depends on the day) that although my spouse and son have learned to avoid my space when I am irritable, my pets would rather ruffle my already rumpled feathers than show me any sort of respect. I feed and water them daily, keep their litter clean, provide veterinary care as needed, and offer my love to them constantly. In spite of all my efforts to provide a decent home, they show me that I am merely a resident in their lair.

Walter my 2-year-old tom cat, to say the least is unique. He likes to hop onto my bed, climb upon my chest and ever so gently outstretch his front legs slowly and land his paws on my face. Right. On. My. Face. I could have a book in hand, no matter, Walter reaches right over it. My husband is not the “cuddle the kitty” type. Often as he lay in bed, up comes Wally and walks over his bare chest and turns about as though plumping a good spot to take a load off. Clearly, no fear has Walter.

Macy, a six-year-old spayed feline with tolerance for no one still rejects the affections offered her by Walter.  She prefers to be left to her napping, eating and lounging regiment. Simplicity is for Macy. Odd is how we describe her. She wishes not to be held, but yearns for petting and responds in kind with the yawl of death. She watches her humans from afar as though to say “distance, keep your distance”.  She has a belly that hangs low, just missing the surface beneath her as she walks to and from feeding place to napping place to excrement place. This is the life of Miss Macy.

Walter has determined his most favored activity of late to be the torturing of Macy. He lurks around corners, sneaks behind inanimate objects and lies in wait for her next excursion through his quarters.  He will pounce her from afar and although she prefer to not engage in physical activity, she comes to life with a vengeance. Hissing and scurrying she fights off his attempts at playful encounter and retreats to a safer space. Walter will then look for entertainment elsewhere for a short time before returning to his quest in tormenting Macy.

Max, the alpha (and only) dog of the Manor, is Walter’s bff. To my amazement, they play and clean each others ears seemingly unaware of the difference in species. Max, or Dinky as we affectionately call him due to his miniature size, is 12 years old and a baby at heart. He is unaware of his senior status and his energy is unending. He is able to leap to my hip in order to grasp my undivided attention. He can still run at hypersonic speeds when called in from his daily out-of-doors excursions. All in all, he’s truly a youngster at heart.

This morning in my rush to get out the door on time, (again, unsuccessful) I smashed my thumb whilst crushing ice for a smoothie, spilled the powdered mix, overfilled the water jugs, and felt composure leaving my body. Max is jumping up to me and with every take he is poking his little paws into my thigh. As I urge Max to stop, I look to my left and there he is, atop the counter fully aware of his wrongdoing. Smug, looking right at me as though to say “whatcha gonna do ’bout it?”  I turn back to the sink, finish the botched job I had begun and see a small juice glass staring at me; taunting me. I filled it and unbeknownst to the offender, walked over nearer him and hurled the water in his face. Walter turned and leapt off the counter with a wet face and neck,  as he hit the floor and looked back at me with disgust and utter astonishment, I say “No Walter, I will not be messed with today”.

In some small way I won today’s battle, although I am fully aware the war will wage on and I am merely a servant and will never see a true victory so long as I choose to reside in Walter’s abode.

 

 

 

 

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