I’ve always been happy, and proud, of my home. It has been a labor of love, a matter of pride that I bought it and decorated it completely on my own. For ten solid years, I have had no desire to move or live anywhere else. Until last Friday night. I’ve never cared before that I don’t have all the upgrades. I’ve been in many beautiful, larger, finer homes and have never felt less satisfied with mine upon returning home. But something about the fact that this women, living a similar lifestyle, in a similar neighborhood, and with comparable square footage, also enjoys black quartz countertops with flecks of mica that light up like stars, stainless steel appliances, mahogany cabinetry and wood floors, contemporary porcelain sinks, expansive windows (and that was just the downstairs), gave me pause for the first time. Suddenly, I became aware that her home makes mine scream “entry-level!” I know I am lucky to be where I am, I know it’s not healthy to covet, but there you have it. I’m in a little kind of funk.
So I remind myself, that part of what I love about my home, is its large backyard adjacent to the tall towering pines of a green belt. I have invested a lot of money turning this blank canvas of a yard into a lovely garden through the purchase of topsoil, various trees, shrubs, roses, grasses, fruit trees, perennials, and more. I have invested back-breaking hours of labor that saw me through a divorce and earned me a bulging disk from removing sod, carving out curved beds all along the perimeter, shoveling top soil and mulch, planting and moving, planting and moving again, weeding and raking, and so on. But, after ten years in my home and yard, the intensive labor is losing its therapeutic value or perhaps the therapeutic value is now lost on me. And, the luster of everything shiny and new is wearing off. Again, I know I have it good. I am thankful, really I am. But…
By now, you are probably thinking, “Uh, I must be on the wrong blog!” or “What does all that have to do with lemons? Besides feeling bittersweet?”
Well, at the same time these thoughts and feelings have been rising to the surface , I have been wanting to post about what’s in bloom now in my absolute favorite shade of yellow for the garden: lemon chiffon. You may remember from my Which Hazel is for You? post that I am not a fan of the bright yellow forsythia color, but I do love the soft yellow of Winter Hazel and the 100 daffodil bulb blooms that I planted last fall and am now seeing for the first time. I suppose I could have just skipped to the chase and featured those blooms and those blooms alone, but I couldn’t help but want to write about all that went with getting to the point of harvesting them on a Sunday evening after a beautiful sunny, but somewhat perplexing day.
So, while allowing myself the luxury, er, necessity, of doing what I’ve always loved: working in the yard and pruning (great therapy) and making beautiful bouquets (reaping the rewards) to share with the office tomorrow (bringing joy to the world), I also weed out those pesky little white flower clumps and purple clusters of leaves that mimic every other new plant so well, before they can seed and choke out the plants that I want to grow. And while I weed, I sort through thoughts. Then, I cut back the roses, hydrangea branches, old perennial seed stalks, and overgrown Mid-Winter Fire Dogwood. I prune the winter-burned leaves and branches of the Razzle-Dazzle Chinese Witch Hazel, and finally rake all the debris and add it to the compost. I take a break to make my son gourmet gouda mac and cheese, steamed asparagus, and brownies. I take a few Ibuprofen for the stiffening lower back.
And just before dusk settles in, I focus in on selecting what’s in bloom now for the bouquet. Still, as I cut and arrange, I find myself wondering, “If I move someday soon and downsize the backyard for a few homey upgrades, can I take the prize Messel star magnolia and the Ryan’s weeping Snow Bell trees? Can I have the pots of Razzle-Dazzle Fringe Flower that need winter shelter and tender loving care? And the Winter Hazel whose arching branches of lemon chiffon bells bring me such joy in early spring? Surely no one would miss them with all the other specimens ready to fill their place.
Perhaps I am entering a new phase, one that will take years to transition into. Noticing my garden friends, enjoying them while I can, but coming to the realization that the sheer amount of upkeep is beginning to infringe upon other things I might want to do with my time and space, both physically and monetarily–like blogging, or travel, or taking pictures, or exploring other forms of creativity. But for now, I hope the flowers I bring to the office tomorrow do bring others a little joy. And I hope the Vitamin D that I absorbed from the sun today kicks in real soon!