In the garden, there was always work to be done: mud up to the elbow, scratches across the knuckles, the toiling was never finished. A new rosebush, a new Linden for the Walnut that fell in the storm, always one more thing, one more beautiful thing.
I like to think it was a deeper metaphor, that maybe my family terraced the backyard and dug deep for the hostas to keep the world together when everything else was falling apart.
Our yard was a jungle, filled with flowers and fruits you could reach out and eat, tiding hunger as a way to stretch out play. A little longer in the garden, a little more time: we didn’t want to be cast out, thrown into the drudgery of life beyond summer vacation and warm spring nights.
I’d like to think the yard was an extended metaphor: you can’t have something beautiful without backbreaking work: you can’t have something beautiful without pain and dirt and everything ugly living under your bruised nails.
I wish to god things were straight forward and honest as digging in the dirt. Plant a seed, grow herbs. Plant a vine, fruit appears. One thing leads to the next in a long line of sensible cause and effect. If there were weevils, there was a cure. If there were aphids, there was something to be done. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? The product is perfect: you have a beautiful thriving garden that others can walk by and love.
They don’t see that grit living deep in the hems of your dresses, the mud caked into scratches in lieu of a bandaid. Gardens require so much upkeep: strip out the weeds and cut down any branch out of place. Every shape just so, every dead plant torn up by the very roots, no trace left of what had been, what could have been, what never was.
I have pruned myself to nubs, taken out so many weeds, kept seeds from taking root and germinating into a new part of myself. Shears were taken to me at a young age to form me around my perfect scaffold, to bear the Nature is straightforward. Gardens are man’s homage to hubris: take what comes naturally and bend it to your will. Left to its own devices, nature reclaims her own and lets in life and jewel toned leaves and petals and fruits. I aim to let nature in again, until I run feral amidst the green once more.