Saturday, March 30, 2013

I've Never Skinned A Bear

When Drew and I first met I came with a big label of false advertising.  "So, you're from Alaska" was his first question of interest.  With that, certainly, came a whole set of assumptions.  She can probably get a campfire going, she can skin a bear,  she's a good shot, she can back up a truck and trailer, she can split fire wood, she's tough, she can help build a cabin, she can live off the grid, she's not afraid to get her hands dirty, she would definitely hold her own on a camping trip (I can hear my parents and brother laughing as they read this)....

....then we went on a camping trip, and within minutes I was outed - as a priss.  A princess even.  I can't get a fire going to save my life, I am afraid of power tools, I have to wear gloves when doing anything remotely dirty to avoid touching something disgusting, I panic and scream when in close proximity to a rodent, I prefer showering daily (with hot water), I'm always cold.  Bottom line, I'm just not that hardy. 

Luckily Drew found my feminine side more alluring than carharts and man hands and we've found a happy division of labor that keeps me away from using power tools and crawling under the house looking for a rotting carcass. 

Then, there's the garden.  He's done all of the heavy lifting out there, moving big rocks, digging holes, laying stone, fertilizing the hedge and building raised beds and fences.  I weed, prune, plant, water (sporadically), and daydream (constantly) about what frilly pink flower I'm going to plant next. 

There's been a shade bed in front of the porch that I've wanted to expand for a couple of years.  I was waiting for Drew to do it, and really hadn't considered giving it a go myself until yesterday when I found myself impulsively hacking back sod and turning earth.  I tipped the wheel barrel over twice with an excessively heavy load of bricks for the border, I screamed every time a huge spider ran out of the pile of bricks I was loading from, I smashed my hand, I was working in the shade - first too cold and then sweaty, my arms were aching from chipping away at the rock hard layer of crushed gravel and oyster shells that stubbornly hovers over good dirt. 

I worked until it was done.  Planted with established bleeding heart, ferns, and Solomon's seal, and now an under story of violets, cyclamen, lily of the valley, and primroses. 

The violets and lily of the valley came from my neighbor Ellie's garden.  She lives in my second favorite house in Edison, originally a catholic church and now a beautiful home with a garden diligently cared for by her for over 30 years.  She bought it in 1978, the year I was born.  This spring she decided that was long enough and is in the process of selling it and downsizing to be closer to grandchildren.

We walked her garden together, the girls listening for fairies and Ellie telling me the stories of the garden she's tended.  With a shovel full of violets and lily of the valley in my hands she said, "those were from my mother's garden and I'm glad they'll be going to yours."  We quietly shared that moment.  A recognition of the shift of time and place that this life cycle leads us through, and the beauty in sharing the things that precede and outlast us.

After a full day of gardening with my favorite two year-old we spent a few evening minutes sharing low sunshine and spring (and an entire package of ritz crackers).

Adirondack chairs are back on the cottage porch,

the plum trees have reached their full glory,

the hose has found a new home in this giant pot,

these fat buds show promise of a banging lilac year,

and a set of walla walla sweet onions planted is a hopeful sign of abundant food to come.

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