End of the first week of May! More and more, time seems insensible to the way I live my life. Retired as I am, I do have activities, meetings, appointments and obligations every day. I do have a changing schedule to adhere to. Without them I would feel too adrift, without purpose. In and of itself, to be aimless would be very stressful. I need to know I am accountable for interactions with others- that I have ideas, support, practical skills to contribute to the people in my community. Even my bit of garden is shared with others. But time is elusive and working on my garden is based on reality, not my desires.
I took advantage of the Annual Plant Sale that is a much anticipated feature every spring at Kendal. It started formally at 7:30 a.m. on Friday. At 7:15 the hallway where the plants were on display was already jam packed with people clutching their plants, eagerly waiting to pay for them. “Who says when it is officially 7:30?” someone asked. The rest of us laughed but soon enough, money began changing hands and the crowds continued all day as the tables emptied out. The next day there were a very few left, and I scored three more outdoor plants, half priced, which were the last to be sought after.
Other folks helpfully carted off my plants for me to the concrete patio off of the lounge area of my section of the Care Center. The door is locked from the outside, with a sound alarm, preventing anyone with dementia disappearing outdoors. That was a necessity established years before the beautiful new dementia unit was built where there is now a lovely enclosed courtyard for safe access to the outoodors. The patio door near me, however, remains locked. My helpers and I had to navigate a circuitous route through various hallways to get to the outside door closest to the patio where I can store my gardening tools and plants until I get to them. From there, my garden patch is only about 15 feet away, over the grass. It is fairly uneven ground beneath its deceptively smooth grass cover. Pushing my rollator over the bumps carrying plants, my kneeling gardening bench, my hand tools and then watering cans, required many trips to and from the patio.
I have been told that the soil here is heavy wet clay. It should have been no surprise that it was, in fact, black tarry lumps that I encountered as I went to prepare the nearest portion of my patch. Because the perennials I bought were thinnings from other people’s gardens (at a very fair price), I figured they were used to this soil for bedding, and so far, do seem to be adapting fairly well. The surprise came in working the next section that I tackled for transplanting some daisies.
Kendal had planted five low spreading juniper bushes beneath my windows, two of which are happy and thriving. One had died completely and I had Facilities rip it out. As I dug around with my used but hardy, newly purchased trowel, I encountered a rock. A large rock as big around as my arm…no a round vein of compressed gold colored clay. It was like cement even though the soggy malleable clay around it was very wet. This lump had absorbed not a drop of water. A single large dandelion root had pushed it’s way through a tiny section of this stuff; an admirable accomplishment given I couldn’t chink off even a chip with my trowel. Maybe I will place potted flowers to stand on top of this root killing area.
Yesterday, while chatting with my PT, he told me that the next county over was once known as the “Sandstone Capital of the World”. Oh. I also found out that I had sprained some muscles compensating for my weakness. My back was sore but resilient enough to be OK. My ankles are swollen from navigating the uneven terrain. I am humbled that I can garden at all. The act of pushing and kneeling, digging and nurturing, are strong motivators for me. I have not completed my efforts yet, but unlike the dandelion root, I will not succeed by forcing my way through sandstone. I am relearning patience as I regain mobility and curb my insistence to DO more. After 30 years, I see my willfulness reappearing as I emerge from a more contemplative life. My ankles and plants smile, as they patiently wait with me.