July 9, 2020
My garden perplexes and delights me. The care it requires reminds me of bringing home newborn twins and not having a clue what to do. During the shelter in place, my early maternal instincts have come back. I’ve gone all rogue pioneer woman; and wanted to grow my own food. Instead of buying new planter beds, I tapped into my creativity with a desire to use what I already have… to repurpose the old to make new. Here’s what happened:
I go out to my dilapidated, worn garage; that was really a carriage house for a horse and buggy back in its day. The structure is now a cover for piles of discarded dreams, memories and projects. A couple years ago, I took apart the cedar planting beds; feeling the wood had rotted beyond function. I know the pieces of the planting beds are in here somewhere…
So I take a deep breath and go through the exposed broken door entrance; fanning away the spider webs that provide protection for the piles. I spy what I am searching:
Just past the dusty gas grill that hasn’t gotten any action since I broke up with the man who insisted we had to have a grill; so he could pound his chest and exert his masculinity with a slab of meat.
Just past the twin set of sun-worn, well used boogie boards that the twins and I used when we ventured to Aptos. I loved that sand beach; that feels like broken bits of warm silken cement from the old Cement Ship, that lingers, hanging on to its dreams of another era.
Just past the old safe, that I have yet to find that worn piece of paper with the combination; that was left by the previous owner, and handed over when we closed the deal. When we put in the new foundation, the buried safe was dug out of the bricks and concrete. I did not have the heart for them to drag it off to the landfill; as I still have hopes of finding the combination, and twisting the dial precisely, so I might find whatever precious items the founding family who raised their family here, wished to keep safe.
Finally, I arrive at the pile of rotted, creature eaten cedar slats. Alongside are the stubby little square blocks that hold the corner ends together when they are assembled. They look better than I remember. The ends of the slats have notched out angled ends to allow them to easily slip into the opposite angels notched out in the stubby ends. Some of the slat ends are completely rotted… but there are many still in good shape. I get all tingly with excitement about the prospect of reassembling these rotted pieces; and feel hip with my new pioneer woman repurposing vibe.
I take the slats and stubs to the far corner of my back yard. I lay the slats on the ground by the Italian bay leaf tree that the family before us planted. That bay tree that is having an ongoing affair with the entwined climbing Jasmine from the fence. One the other side of this space is the rouge berry bushes. That have randomly made themselves at home. I methodically alternate the better slats with the not so great ones; to see how many I have. I determine I can make a 12 by 4 foot bed. I insert the notched ends into the stubby blocks and the bed is reborn. Step by step, possibility grows. Soil and compost fills the bed. I lay out string to form square foot grids. Seeds and starter plants and marigolds to attract bees and butterflies are sunk in the soil. Water, along hope and faith, begin nurturing what will become my garden.
These days, months later, as I survey my lush, flourishing garden, with tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, Swiss chard, arugula, parsley, oregano, basil, dill, rosemary, carrots, eggplant and marigolds; I can hardly see the worn cedar slats. But I know they are there. There are always lessons I learn from the old made new.
That gas grill reminds me of what I have learned from past relationships; and most of all, learning to trust my instincts, hold on to my identity, and savor the relationship with myself.
Those boogie boards remind me of the foundational years parenting my twins; and all that has transpired since then, and how amazingly proud I am of the adults they have become… who still love to play in the ocean.
That safe without the combination reminds me of the family that lived in this home and yard. I wonder what grew from all they repurposed. I wonder about them and their cycles of life.
Just like the repurposed cedar slats are present, but unseen; I think of the family before us. This home and garden continue to be repurposed. The old becomes new... and old... and new; and on and on…
I am grateful for my garden, and the way it perplexes and delights. I am grateful for that which has come before, and can be renewed. So grateful for the good food.