I was feeling blocked, unable to unplug the movie I’d been screening in my head. Writing a memoir is difficult work, especially since I’ve spent most of my time for the last month reliving parts of my life that were less than pleasant. I needed a break from the past.
This week, the days were in the mid-seventies and eighties, sunny with a few clouds, but only a drop of much-needed rain. It was almost perfect gardening weather. I did a tad of pruning and pulled weeds. I bought four gorgeous hellebores in full bloom and this morning tucked them in the ground on what was once a bank of nothing but Ivy.
In Charlottesville, as in most regions of the state, there is more Ivy than any other kind of plant. It can easily overtake a stonewall and bring it crashing down. It can kill trees, shrubs and any plant that decides to take it on. Last fall I hired a man to pull up all the Ivy on that bank and we built a small patio on top of the rise. This spring my project is to fill the empty garden space with shade loving plants. Hellebores that often bloom in late January, ferns, and hostas are the most likely candidates. But there are many others that will not be overlooked. Since doing my daily memoir writing was not happening anyway, I figured it was a good time to start.
The garden is a perfect place to come to terms with what’s bothering me. Among the plants and the promises of spring I can do some inner weeding. When I spend time outside with plants, allowing my hands to dig in the soil, my mind and heart opens, awakening to earth messages and spirits sent at this time of year to heal the land and its creatures after a long, dark winter.
Here in Virginia, the winter has been a warm one. The two snowfalls we’ve had are the joke of the season. Now the land is alive with trees and shrubs that usually begin blooming in mid-April. Today we had our lawn mowed. It no longer looks like a typical hayfield in late July. I’m anxious to go off to the nurseries and find more plants for my garden. Spring officially arrives early Tuesday morning and I’m ready to dance into the new season.
My hands and fingers are happy that I’ve dipped them in the warming soil. But now they again itch for the keyboard. My heart and mind are clear, ready to process the next part of my story. I will gently place the words on the blank screen that awaits them, and this time I will try to be continually mindful of the state of my emotions so that the wall that I ran into a few weeks ago doesn’t stop me from moving forward.
For me, balance is the key. I am not like the tightrope walker who gracefully dances her way along the wire while balancing her umbrella on the tip of a finger. I need stops along the way where I can take the time to recompose myself. The garden is one of those places.