Every year since – forever – seed catalogs have arrived in my mailbox during the last of the winter weeks. They are a harbinger of hope because nothing spells faith like planting seeds and believing perennials, green beans and marigolds will indeed sprout and come to life.
But this year, I am throwing the catalogs into the recycling bin. I cannot even bear to look at pictures of purple lobelia or happy-faced pansies.
This year, I have finally realized I can no longer maintain my gardens.
Reality began to set in during last year’s season when I tried to dig weeds and spread mulch. Within minutes, grass allergies kicked in, and I ran to the house for my meds. Even so, the next day – dark circles rimmed my eyes and the fatigue of immune system warfare affected my energy levels.
I ignored the symptoms because gardening has been so important to me. Just the therapy of digging in fresh soil, following my farming ancestors’ passion to coax the sprouting of life has brought me annual joy.
Gardening has nurtured my dream – to own a cottage in the country surrounded by flowers and produce where bees drink nectar and butterflies land for a respite during their annual migration.
But reality clarifies the cost of mulch and new plants, plus the hours required to make such gardens appear. Reality also underscores that my body and its accompanying allergens now betray me.
I can no longer hang on to a dream I cannot produce.
My dilemma reminds me of my mother’s situation – the woman who worked hard to pay off her house only to be forced to leave it. The realities of Alzheimer’s care betrayed her. Staying in her home mirrors my dream of a garden home.
Now both of us must delete what we wished for.
This year, I will woefully allow the native grasses to engulf my garden spaces. I may move the blueberries and golden raspberries to pots that require little care. I may plant a small row of green beans, enough for a skillet full of nutritious flavor.
But I will no longer drool over the pictures in seed catalogs or plan new plots for hybrid clematis.
This year I will step back and let nature rule. Perhaps my garden dream will morph into an eternal garden where the price my physical body pays no longer affects me.
Instead of working on my dream, I will stroll through local nurseries to touch leaves, stroke petals and remember the gardens I once nurtured.
To reach toward hope, I will remind myself that the giving up of the dream still yields results albeit a different type of fruit:
- Saving money
- Giving away tools to someone who needs them
- Finding more time to write and read
- Preserving my health
And when the twinges of grief remind me what is lost, I can always counter with the truth of what will someday be.
Reality forces us to change, but hope answers that the changes may point toward something better.