I'm not sure that "bounty" is a relative term, but it can certainly seem so in the eyes of the beholder. And what we behold often -- usually(?) -- depends upon our state of mind. Can you recall a time that you were not as thankful as you should be? How about distinctly ungrateful and graceless?
I wish I could say that I've spent the better part of a year struggling with a bad habit. I've spent an entire year doing so! It's the habit of "whys and what-ifs". For me, the problem with this habit is that I do not find it entirely without merit. I happen to agree with Plato. "An unexamined life is not worth living."
So, we moved. A somewhat radical change of lifestyle does give cause to pause, especially if done swiftly and suddenly. If you're an avid (obsessed) gardener, it's not necessarily fun to move from a generous, park-like setting to a postage stamp lot. That's to say nothing of the difference in houses, not that the new house is entirely without its own charms. But the what-ifs were fierce and plenty: what if we had waited until we had found something more suitable, what if we had selected a different property from the options available, and what if we don't stay? Why did we choose this property knowing its limitations and our preferences and the great gulf in between?
I think it's okay to analyze questionable decisions. But to never be satisfied with the answers, especially if they are reasonable ones and especially when we have so much to be glad and grateful for, is surely the sign of a restless, ungrateful soul. That is not what I expect or accept of myself.
The uncertainty and constant questioning certainly put a different spin on my gardening. Why improve a basically acceptable outdoor space if we are not going to keep it for a good length of time? How much time, money, and heart should we invest in the landscape?
Yet I cannot not garden. It is part of who I am. I love the outdoors, I love flowers and, if I am honest, I really do appreciate our new space for what it is. But until very recently, I wasn't sure I could ever embrace it as my own.
What's a gardener to do? I decided early on that I would not lavish lots of money on this garden. We would make basic, necessary improvements, I would treat myself to some favorite roses, and for the rest, I would mostly sow seeds. There's been very little seed-sowing in my gardening life. Why not sow seeds, I asked myself (acerbically)? I should be able to keep an eye on them; I can see almost the entire back yard from the kitchen door.
I did not realize, in my dejectedness, that I was beginning to experiment and learn in my new, little garden just as I had experimented and learned in my big one. I ignored the voice reminding me that all gardens and our very lives are ephemeral and that we should make the most of our time and every situation. I brushed aside every zen-like thought I'd ever had, every Christian admonition to be joyful and grateful, and, boy, oh, boy, did I sweat the small stuff! It's funny, what the brain will allow.
This time last year, we hardly celebrated the holidays even though we were surrounded by loved ones, we were all in good health, and we could look out our windows and enjoy a parade of golfers in their struggles and victories. We did not decorate. Not only were we tired from our move, we were having improvements made upon a house we were already rejecting. The golf course took on a brown hue.
I tried to write a few optimistic posts during the year, but I think we all suspected that I was still trying to convince myself. I really didn't feel much like writing even though there was a lot I could write about. I like to believe that most of us struggle with control issues every once in a while; it lessens my embarrassment at least a little.
After a full year with this house and garden, I am only just beginning to sincerely lighten up. Where did my sense of adventure go, my sense of humor, my sense of balance, my sense in general? What happened to my joy in the challenge? It's just a house, after all, and a nice house with a pleasant garden at that! I don't know how many days or years I will have with this garden any more than I know the number of my days on this earth. I would welcome plenty of both. But I do understand that right now is the only time I can be sure of. I've always known that it's not all up to me and I thank God for that. These recollections have finally washed through me. I feel cleaner and lighter of spirit and can laugh at my own silliness.
I hope you are okay with this flat-out confession! It does show signs of growth, doesn't it? Much like those seedlings that now line my beds. . . .
I haven't told you about the squirrels, the "yard guys", the hilarity of the golfers, of our oak tree fiasco. But I will! I'm back.
It's time to have fun. Happy Holidays!