The Gardener Impersonator
I have a confession to make….I am not a gardener. I am, rather, a gardener impersonator! This is very difficult for me to admit as I have always really wanted to be a gardener; flower, vegetable, herb…any kind of gardener really! So many of my family members are amazing gardeners! My dad competed with the neighbors for the biggest and best tomatoes(and often won) and he grew the juiciest and most delicious raspberries that all the grandchildren would sneak off the vines. My sister and mother-in-law have always had gorgeous perennials gardens that are to die for with all the flowers at the right heights, in the right places, and the perfect color combinations. My brother has a flourishing fruit orchard in North Maine with pears, plums, apples, you name it! My brother-in-law grows all of his own organic food, and even his own grapes for wine! My niece is the farm manager for her dad’s organic farm, for God’s sake. But for me, I have no green thumb at all. Oh, I have tried over the years, and have found I am very good at purchasing pretty, perfect plants at the nursery, and then leaving them to wilt and almost die in the pots before I half-heartedly set them in an unprepared ground so I can say I tried. Truthfully, I just don’t have the patience for gardening. I do love to look at all the seed catalogs when they arrive in the cold of winter and dream but I do not have the fortitude of a gardener. At the houses we have lived in over the years, if there was to be a garden of any sort, usually the job fell to my husband.
So much to my surprise, I had a revelation. In the rental where I am living in the village, my dog needs to be tied to do “his business.” Needless to say, this spring I had many “gifts” awaiting me in the yard left over from a winter’s worth of Autumn spending time out there. In all fairness, even though my landlord usually takes care of the yard work, I let him know I would rake so he didn’t have to deal with the remains of my dog. He was very appreciative. I set out on a beautiful afternoon to rake the nastiness….I raked and raked and raked. I don’t think this yard had actually been raked for many years! I filled 5 or 6 bags with leaves and still had lots more leaves, and other, to go! As I was moving my leaf piles toward the road, I realized I was raking in what appeared to be a little flower garden under some plums trees. I started raking a little harder. There were layers and layers of wet, partially composted leaves in the garden, and I had no idea what I would find underneath. Little by little, I began to uncover tiny, stringy, white virginal roots of, ok I think they are perennials, and then some very pale, shooting peaks of what looks like bulbs. I even uncovered some daffodils that I don’t think have seen the light of day for years. I became obsessed. I felt hopeful to be giving these poor roots and shoots a chance to shine for maybe the first time in years! I raked all that day and into the next. When my husband arrived for the weekend, he gave me a knowing, apprehensive look and said, “Wow, you are ambitious!” I continued on with my journey of uncovering, and hopefully giving new life, a rebirth as it may be, to these tender, fragile living things… And the astounding thing is I WAS LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT!
I felt….. triumphant! Well, mostly I felt like I could relate to these little guys and gals. They had been suffocating in the natural cycle of every day life, smothered by the damp, wet and heavy leaves of the change of seasons. They were now finally being given a chance to turn their little faces to the sunshine and thrive! I still have more work to do in “my” little garden, and I can’t wait to see how the little guys transform themselves from fragile sprigs to blossoming amazingness! The funny thing is, it is almost time for me to leave this house for the summer so I, most likely, will not see these flowers in their full glory. But somehow, that doesn’t really seem to be so important.
I feel like I can finally give up the guilt I have carried all these years from being a Gardener Impersonator. I was just meant to be a “reviver” offering sunshine and fresh air, oxygen, to those in need rather than to be a caretaker to those perfect nursery plants that didn’t really need my help at all!