It was my high school and his. Mine as alma mater. His as drama teacher. When the pandemic arrived, a beautiful but sorely neglected garden at the school became our daily refuge. Day after day we arrived in the late afternoon when the heat was less and the sun was a beautiful glow from the west.
Two years later I sat on the boulder he’d rolled into a shady spot under the fragrant June blossoms. I need a moment alone. The sun dappled the leaves where an ant climbed upside down and a bee passed by. It was Kevin’s last day of teaching, and our last official day as keepers of the garden.
Over time we gave a new life to a green space where much of its wonders were buried in weeds. I cleared the sledge from the pond and Kevin repaired the pump. We dug a ditch for asparagus and holes for new native plants. We dug even more deeply in an attempt to remove a seemingly endless amount of invasive Dames Rocket. We cheered every earthworm we saw.
We planted daisies, poppies, and roses. We were on our knees to pull grass out from between the pink bricks of the winding walkway and worked our backs to haul new bricks to extend it. Kevin built an arbor and I planted honeysuckle to climb up it.
We named the white birch Ingrid and the lemon balm Melissa. We cut back the false indigo and perked up the Joe Pie Weed. In a world of constant crisis, we found solace in our mostly silent hours of tending to the beauty of the earth.
Our chapter of rejuvenation came to a close as Kevin turned in his keys for retirement. As I looked longingly at the fading iris and the first of the prairie rose, he reassured me that we could come back anytime. In our magical garden perhaps I’d fantasized that one of the best seasons of my life would go on forever. My attachment to the garden had grown like the fall clematis clinging to the chain-link fence.
Kevin wrapped his arm around my shoulder as we stood at the far end of our oasis where steps take one up to the redbud tree for the best view of all the loveliness. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done here,” he said. “It’s time for us to turn our attention to another garden,” he observed—the one in our own backyard.
As we release the garden’s keeping to others we trust will love it as much as we do, we look forward to returning as visiting volunteers. A new season begins.
How do you find solace in nature? In silence?
Do you ever struggle to let go of a season you love?
What is yours to rejuvenate?