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Monday, May 23, 2011

Preparing the Soil

The perennial garden out back needs a haircut. Plants we dug in years ago have grown, multiplied. We have divided and replanted so many times, the main garden, the one we created in the porous mulch residing on top of our New England ledge, spawned a second plot, and then a third—this spreading of plants evidence of how beauty cultivated creates strong roots. Now bushy cowlicks and layered tendrils await further separation.

Sometimes I look at our gardens in awe. Eighteen years ago, early in that long summer during which we waited for our daughter to arrive, our back yard was a parcel of grass-strewn briers. We kept ourselves busy pulling out the weeds, loosening the soil and installing flowering vegetation we hoped would come back again and again.

That year, we took pictures of our house, our town, the place in which our child would grow. We mounted the results in a photo album and delivered it to the adoption agency to circulate to prospective birthmothers. One of the photos we placed between those pages was of a younger me, baseball hat on to protect from the May flies, leaning on a shovel. In the picture, what is now a garden erupting beyond its boundaries, is mostly dirt. We'd  installed a few more plants by August of that year, the joyful month when our daughter finally came home.

We held her first birthday party and her fifth on the patio that sits just below the main garden, an area of cement pavers where she also took turns pedaling a plastic cart with her next door cousins. We took pictures before her first dance recital, before she left for band competitions as well as photos with her friends the day of the eighth grade dance. If we lined up all the images together, we could watch our daughter turn from a plump toddler to a leggy pre-teen to a mature young woman, while the plants behind her grow taller and thicker and spread across the space.

This week, we’ll take prom pictures; a week after that, she’ll stand in front of the garden in her cap and gown. It’s likely we’ll grab the camera again in August, her birth month—the same month she came to us and the same one in which she’ll depart for college.

She’ll be on loan to us after that, around again only for too-brief vacation stays. Otherwise, she’ll be tilling a life comprised of events for which we won’t be around to take pictures. Back home though, the garden will be there, multiplying, spreading and moving—reminding us that we’ve done a good job fertilizing and mulching and nurturing both the soil and our girl; and that it’s the right time for us to divide ourselves, so our lovely young woman can flourish in new earth.






15 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. You made me cry with the pictures. Monster Child is only six, but graduating Kindergarten this year. Stories like this make me weepy. I know it'll only be two weeks by the time she reaches your daughter's age.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Lovely garden and daughter!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was so wonderful to read, Liza!

glnroz said...

ohhh Ms. Liza, I am not sure I had my feet "planted" well enough for this one this morning. This knocked me off my feet,,,wonderful, wonderful, wonderful,,,

Jemi Fraser said...

Lovely garden & beautiful daughter! I wish I had more talent for gardening! :)

Wine and Words said...

Beautiful garden! Beautiful young woman. Both entirely worth the effort. I will be visiting my bio-dad in two weeks for our first even father-daughter weekend after meeting 38 years ago. It's a strange ride.

GigglesandGuns said...

Beautiful outlook. Great job with both daughter and garden. Growing up is so hard on a parent.

Helen Ginger said...

What a cute picture of you. And I have to say the last two pictures are both beautiful.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

What a nice back and forth between the changes in your garden and those of your daughter! Just gave me such a strong and grounded feeling.
May your soul be well as you continue to work your garden and your daughter makes her way in this world with the benefit of such a wonderful start.

EmptyNester said...

What a truly delightful post!

Lydia K said...

"She'll be on loan to us after that"...waaah!

Anita said...

Much beauty in this post...thanks for sharing with the writing world!

sue said...

Liza, your words are beautifully crafted. I love the gardening/nurturing analogy, and that you seem ready to divide so your daughter can flourish in new ground. It makes me kind of weepy having been through it myself.Sue

Robyn Campbell said...

Beautiful daughter, beautiful words, beautiful garden= beautiful post, Liza. :-)

Jan Morrison said...

As usual, wonderful story, wonderful writing. Thanks for this, Liza.
ps - a two four is a case of beer in Canuckese!