Today I went down to our garden. The construction work on our back stairs has gradually taken over the whole yard, as the contractor discovers more rot within the ancient boards holding up our back room. Large hunks of concrete lie everywhere, pieces of old and new wood strewn about, waiting to be discarded or put to use on the new staircase. Most of our plants have been crushed, despite the workers’ care to go around them. When I first saw the devastation, I wept.
I had to rescue plants that were still viable. I piled pots together in a corner. I also pruned back the Mexican sage and the rosemary that bloomed in such profusion they occupied a quarter of the yard, in order to save these from being trampled. No time for self-pity! There’s still work to do.
Watering the small potted rescues (fuchsia, maidenhair fern, begonia, azalea), I stood under the camellia that’s grown into a 10-foot-tall tree in the center of the yard. I caught sight of a movement off to the side, a small brown wren hopping around in the water’s spray. His inquisitive black eye scanned the garden and me with it, his little body twisting so he could get more to drink. He came here to cheer me up, I thought in a flight of fancy, to let me know everything’s going to be okay.
My father’s Norse heritage kicked in as I recalled Yggdrasil, the tree that bestows wisdom and shelters all the world. Now, this camellia that’s become a tree is teaching me about friends: we’re so grateful for all your wonderful moral support! It’s an important lesson and I consider us very, very lucky.
“Hope is the thing with feathers–/that perches in the soul–” (Emily Dickinson)