Category Archives: gardening

>Home-free-all

>Yesterday… what a strange combination of emotions.

WOW — the New York Times saying actual nice things about bone-head me. And me taking my still silent, grumpy son back to college — or at least I drove to the country house. (And yes, John McCain, I know how many houses I have, and, yes I know I am a very lucky person.) My husband, Zac, drove the rest of the way from the Hudson Valley to Skidmore College. Henry is still holding a grudge, and the ride north from the city — where I was bursting with excitement and happiness that we had a real honest to goodness NY Times article that might put butts in seats and make people notice this little opera after months of working for free — and well, the silence was chilling. I talked the entire time in my head, but it was sad.

After they drove off, I took back the little farmhouse from the renter ladies, making the nest my own again. Changing beds, doing more washing, tossing out weird renter food that is perfectly fine, but not mine. I then went out to touch plants, pull weeds, crush beetles and remember what wet earth feels like after a month of dark rehearsal spaces and late night bike rides home. I also fielded tears and confusion about rehearsal times; I dealt with egos on whose name appears where, and if middle names are used or why is former musician listed but not. . .

All told, it lets me know, again, that we are all fragile and all looking to be recognized for the little and large things we do.

After a romp through the woods with the cats, I collapsed into the hammock and fell asleep to find my husband standing over me, having waited, he said, for me to wake up so we could go get ice cream. OH, twist my arm. So we were off to Holy Cow. Can you make that up? We ate drippy sundaes in the shortening light and I tried to forget that in nine days, the show would go up, with lights and dance and music and all the cast members who have never even yet been to a single rehearsal… and I tried to stay calm and see it all working. All safe, all fine, all singing and then the audience applauding.

And in my head I will yell out “HOME-FREE-ALL!” Just like I did when I was ten and ran to hug the tree in dusky games of hide and seek.

When I went out to cut brambles and prune roses this morning, I let the big Maine Coon cat, Auggie, named for last month, lead me where he wanted to go. He wanted to walk in what our Scottish friends call the Dingly Dell. This is a path cut between blackberry brambles and a bogey hollow west of the house. It took me two years to cut this path through brambles and woods that resemble nothing short of Sleeping Beauty’s prison in the fairy tale. But I hacked with clippers and machete and now there is a path where mossy tufts and lazy tress leave a clearing for deer, intrepid humans and fearless cats to tread.

This morning, there were clear paths marked by the pointy hooves of deer and Auggie and I picked our way along. I wondered what the deer think when they smell us and I imagined this conversation between the doe and her spotted twin fawns I spy regularly making crepuscular leaps.

“Oh look, kids, that is the foot print of the human woman who made this path. You know the thing about humans, and the reason they are so dangerous, is that they have forgotten how to use their intuition. They know things, but will never use what they feel until they can connect it to something they have learned in books, or school.”

“What does that mean?” the smarter, small female fawn will say.

“It means they can’t tell if things are dangerous, or fun or wrong unless they learn them, not feel them.“

“That must be a hard way to live.”

I think they are right. And I am going to attempt to feel my way though this last bit of time until we open. Now it is 8 days until our invited dress rehearsal on September 10. I will have to keep feeling the gratitude, luck and hope that I see evinced all around me and keep pushing myself to imagine the woodsy calm and the joy that comes form feeling the tree and yelling, “HOME-FREE-ALL!”

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>A small lie

>Yesterday I tried to ascertain what would be interesting about my life, what might cross over to be that ubiquitous moment and I was overwhelmed with watching. I saw myself lie to a stranger about the bounty in my life because I felt embarrassed.

I was standing outside a public garden in Greenwich Village. There was a rather tattered man also peering in; he was sketching in a small book. I was standing astride my green, 1968 Raleigh bike waiting to meet another writer to discuss a project. I was early, as I often am, because riding a bike in Manhattan makes you punctual because all you have to do is peddle a little faster and there you are, but that is another story and not the lie I told.

I asked the man what he was sketching. Not a good sign when you can’t tell from looking really, but I am preternaturally chatty. He replied, “Oh I love that shed, I have drawn it so many times.”

I looked, it was a pre-fab grey shed for tools tucked in the back of roses and weeping cherries. Maybe he loved the verdant vegetation, but when I took a concerned look; in fact he had just roughed out the shed alone in green crayon.

“What are you doing?” he continued the conversation toss.

“Oh, I am just garden fantasizing.”

He took the ball and tossed back. “Oh I don’t do that enough, maybe if I did, fantasized about having a garden then I WOULD have one.”

“I think they call it visualization–seeing things you want to make manifest, but I like fantasizing, too.”

Now the lie.

He asked, “Do you have a garden?”

I guess because I felt guilty about the small five-acre farm purchased in the Hudson Valley, on credit, nearly two years ago. I said, “ Oh yes, I have a small garden, but not this opulent.” The garden in question was .3 acres, I had just read that on a sign and was basking in how much more land I had when the conversation began.

Why did I feel the need to downgrade my incredible luck and good fortune? As I walked away from him, he was still sketching and I chose to focus on the positive phrase I had uttered, “Yes, I do have a garden.” It was a magical sentence, and yet I made myself feel bad because I felt I had to lie to this stranger, in order to not make myself look so spoiled.

Why did I do this? And as a correlative, why do we inflate silly things to make ourselves feel, look or seem better in encounters with strangers on a train, or bus or bank line? For me, it causes me to wonder if who I am will ever be enough, or correct – just as I am – at the moment at the garden gate or bank line?