I planted flowers for the first time yesterday since moving to this house. Really I haven’t had my hands in the dirt since I got my hands on baby Kira. It’s been a gap I’ve been trying to close for a while. Coco, the cat, reclined in the grass observing me with her tail flicking, and I knew she was wondering if I was ok. She hasn’t seen me do this here before. Lucy practiced her stealth, and snuck up on the empty platic tubs and pranced away with her new toy so she could shred it as her kill. She did that as a puppy. Such a sweet dog. I am sure this assured Coco that I hadn’t lost my mind.
I remember the days when we first moved into our Katy house and all the boys were big and I was a little lonely so I designed our gardens and built them all myself. I created it as a job for myself. I would wake up and pull on my gloves, pull down my hat, and take hold of the wheelbarrow. Fun for me is to shop for plants. It is the same way Jordan behaves when he’s got a pocketful of money at the mall. (he loves clothes) I would make a trip to the garden center and give myself a rule, I can only take home today what I can fit on one cart. As I walked the aisles I recalled all the special names, growing preferences, and characteristics of each plant. Then I would bargain with myself because I wanted more. I would stuff the car so full of plants I could hardly see out the window. I enjoy the physical labor of arranging, digging, planting and watering. And then at the end of the day to sit on the bench with a cool drink and observe my efforts. Wonderful.
Some day I will garden again in a way that helps me believe “I am a gardener”. For now, I look at my plain landscape and sigh. I find it difficult with a toddler to do the work in the garden and keep an eye on her wandering towards the pool. I could dig in the front yard, but we have too many deer. I figure why bother, they’ll have a two hundred dollar midnight snack.
So when Kira slept yesterday, and after my ride with Gunner, I raced down to the border against the fence in the back yard. I’d spent the past few days collecting plants, and pouring out tasty dirt to fill the beds for them so it was finally time to pick up my shovel and dig some holes. I was three quarters of the way finished, sweaty, hot and dirty but so so happy when Kira appeared on the back porch, “mama what you doing?” So Jack brought her down to the garden bed and she watched me dig, plant, and talk to the flowers.
She had the wide eyed absorption of a toddler learning that enthralls me. If only I could focus and absorb with the same intensity that she does. She watches, she asks questions and she practices. She could see what I had done was pretty, and she likes pretty. The final step was to turn on the hose and give them all their first drink in their new bed. Kira was ready with her own cute watering can she got for her birthday. I filled it up and we watered the flowers together. It was bliss until she poured water down her boot and didn’t like the way it felt.
The urge at that final moment was for me to go repeat the process. I thought, Kira, let’s go to the nursery and put so many plants in the car that we can’t see. But, my husband reminds me that now I have a job I must balance my passions carefully. So I resisted buying more plants. Instead, I ordered a dump truck of dirt to be delivered so the beds are ready for when it is time for me to do some more digging with my little partner. When that nursery is on the way home from somewhere I know I will detour. I just don’t have enough willpower to pass.
Our back yard gently slopes down. From my kitchen windows I see tree tops, I look down into the pool, and I see the back border garden against the fence where I planted peturnias, hibiscus, roses, impatiens, lavender, hostas, and gardenia today. Kira and I sat, had a nice refreshing drink and looked over the yard and all the pink in the one new section is so satisfying to see. It’s almost as if now I can say, “yes this is my backyard.” I am not satisfied for long however, because my mind goes to the way I will fill all the empty beds. I can’t help but plan for the plants I know and love to come be at home with me. Animals, plants, kids, I can’t get enough of them all. The urge in me to nurture is surprisingly enormous….it won’t be long and there’s going to be a horse with the last name “LaTorre”, I’m doing my homework now. Poor Craig, it would never occur to him that a plant is a needy living being, that a cat should ever be sleeping on his bed, or a dog snoring in his ear so that he has to wear plugs, but he goes with the flow of his wife’s loves. And now, he’s beginning to see there is no way to keep me away from the barn where I love taking care of and riding a horse. He has to win husband of the century award.
The one passion we do share is the ministry of caring for orphans in Uganda. His heart is as far into this work as mine is. We talk about it all the time, he has ideas, plans and hopes of his own for these children. I love to see him using his brilliance to apply it to these children’s lives. I think what a blessing it is for these children to have a father like him looking over them.
All the rest of my passions for living things, he smiles at me, and loves me more. The protection I feel with him to be who I am is the greatest gift he could ever give me. He sets me free to be me and loves me even though I couldn’t be more different than he is. He’s the best. It’s wonderful to be married almost twenty-two years and discovering I love him more and more.