More about gifts

by tamarjacobson

This is the time of my life, and I think that perhaps I am giving myself gifts of love.

As I allow myself more and more to experience all kinds of feelings (especially those that are most uncomfortable like anger or fear, for example), suddenly old emotions come to the surface. I mean ancient ones – from my earliest childhood days. They appear as if out of nowhere at the oddest moments when I am least expecting them. For example, all of my life I have been playing at gardening, trying to make do with nothing in order to create something always in temporary make shift yards. Now that we have moved to a permanent home, I decided to create a real garden of my own. After looking around and speaking to this person or that, I discovered a landscaper who understood exactly what I have been thinking about for the yard surrounding our new house.

On Monday, he started making it happen. Digging, composting, mulching and planting shrubs before the winter sets in, he has already transformed our yard. In March he will storm the prepared beds with perennials – 265 in the front and who knows how many in the back. And then … I will be able to potter in my garden all the days of the rest of my life – adding to it and changing it here and there as my heart desires. I am ecstatic. Excited. An extraordinary energy seems to race through my body. Indeed I am as excited as a young woman meeting my lover for the first time, or like those indescribable moments giving birth to my son all those 37 years ago.

And then, out of the blue, I remember my mother gardening back in Africa when I was young. I used to love walking around the yard with her as she described this plant and that. She loved them all so much, and had such creative ideas about where to place or how to combine different species around the yard. I especially adored the fern garden she created under one of our largest shady trees down at the side end, towards the back of the house. My mother was never a conformist and I sensed it most in her gardening. None of those straight lines or ordinary bushes or flowers. Suddenly tears flowed down my cheeks as I described these memories to my therapist the other day. I realized that those were moments in my youth when I felt most bonded with my mother following her around the yard like a puppy – listening to, watching, learning, and loving her with all of my being.

Even while tending to the weeds, flowers and shrubs, I always enjoy the visitors that arrive. Birds, butterflies, squirrels, chipmunks, earth worms, beetles and bugs, even the little brown snake who first greeted me when I began weeding our yard the first days in June when we moved into this house. Usually I am terrified of snakes, and although I was not thrilled to discover it, I did not jump back or scream out as I used to. I spoke to it out loud, "Hey! Snake! This is my new house. I am weeding my garden whether you like it or not!" The little creature slithered back down into the soil into the old wall, peaking out only once or twice after that.

I asked Matt, the landscape fellow, for perennials that will invite and encourage all kinds of creatures to visit our yard. Like echinacea, for example. I know that butterflies and gold finches will love them.

Gardening is about loving and being loved.