I can’t keep up with ups and downs of the COVID spikes. They’re like a roller coaster. All I know is that California remains in quarantine and that means I continue to be stuck at home with Alf and the hound.
We’re barking at each other more than usual. We’re reading more, watching more TV, and needing more sleep. By the time we emerge from this, like bears after a winter’s hibernation, we may not recognize who we are. We’ll need to introduce ourselves all over again to family and friends.
“Remember me? I’m your mother.”
“I thought you were dead,” my daughter would say.
“Not dead, just buried,” I would say.
“You look a little long in the tooth,” she would say.
“That’s better than crinkly skin and hollow eyes.”
“You’re almost there. You need to soak in a milk bath and soften up,” she would say.
“As long as it’s almond sweet with lots of rubber ducks with me.”
Calvin says, “Has someone told you you’re brain is rotting too?”
I dug it up. It had been struggling to survive for years. I re-planted it in a pot that was hanging from the apricot tree, except there is no apricot tree, just the trunk, which now holds several potted plants. Alf and I killed the apricot tree by pruning it too much. What did we know? We’re not farmers. The transplanted plant should be worried. We don’t know what we’re doing.
Our garden plants grit their teeth behind our backs. They hold whispered meetings at midnight, while we sleep, planning how to survive in spite of what we do to them.
The oleanders are the senior members, well established after many battles, and are now too big to die. They’ve gone through the worst of it, from neglect to over-watering. They now give advice to the youngest inhabitants. “Keep your water reserves if you want to live,” they say.
The roses are faring a bit better because they’re pretty. Beauty wins out every time. It’s what saves them from death. Nobody likes to see a withered bush, it speaks ill of the owners.
The lavender and rosemary have the best chance of survival. They’ve been bred to withstand heat and drought.
The jade, the newcomers, beat their chests. “We’ll outlive you all,” they say with a laugh.
The citrus trees roll their eyes. “We’ve been here 80 years, and we’ve seen it all. If it wasn’t for the rainy season we’d be gone, and so will you, so don’t be cocky because that will be your demise,” they say.
Calvin says, “You’ve murdered a nursery-full since I’ve been here. I’d have a warrant for your arrest.”
I spent some quality time in my garden this weekend, soaking up the sun and appreciating my flowers. That’s when I noticed it.
“I haven’t been watering it,” Alf said.
“Why not?” I asked.
“It didn’t appeal to me.”
“But we paid money for it.”
“You know? You’re the one who makes sure we use the things we buy.”
“It doesn’t make sense. I neglected it. It wasn’t speaking to me.”
Since then, I have been watering the plant and sure enough green leaves are popping up all over it.
“That’s looking pretty good,” Alf said.
“What some water will do,” I said.
I began to look for more neglected plants in the garden. I saw another one. A low creepy crawler that was barely breathing. I began watering it too. It has sprouted purple flowers.
“I’m going to call you PP,” Alf said.
Calvin says, “There’s a third plant that’s gone brown. I peed once too many times on it. It didn’t resonate with me either.”
I like gawking at trees in their fall display. They’re so beautiful it hurts. The magentas, coppers, and dark greens flush out the year’s heaviness and replace it with an invigorating renewal of crisp air. I’m always amazed at the audacity of such a riot of color while in the throes of dying. I’m sure there’s a message there, but it eludes me at the moment. I’m too busy staring at the color palette.
I feel the same way in the spring when the cherry and dogwood trees are bursting with blooms. I walk under them and look up. They envelope me in their translucent petals, the whisper of fragrance, and a delicate air. There’s a message here too, but I’m transported.
Few things like these two seasons renew me like this. Not fireworks on the fourth of July, or a roaring ocean in the summer, or even a frolicking puppy.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Millions feel the same way. But having lived my life in countries with no fall foliage or springtime delights, I’m always arrested by these beauties. They’re gifts. They renew my soul.
Spring points to hope and a new beginning. Fall alerts to the death of all things, but in a dignified and magnificent way. We need to go out with a blazing splash. I plan to write a hundred blog posts, so after I’m gone, you can still read a new post every week for two years. After that maybe Calvin will take over.
Calvin says, “Good grief! What side of the bed did you wake up on? You’re getting weird.”