Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hope Springs a Turtle*

When my family lived on Plum Road in Starkville, Mississippi, a box turtle inhabited the petunia beds that bordered the raised patio. I loved that. I haven't seen any turtles in my gardens here, but there is plenty else sproinging up on this first day of spring. Spring is such a hopeful time. And spring in North Carolina is incomparable. For all my provincialism about the Pacific Northwest and all my whining about summer heat in the south; for all my longing to live higher above sea level, spring in North Carolina almost makes up for all that is geographically and atmospherically--and for almost every other way--lacking in my living (at least when it is spring). This morning I put my spring birdhouse on the front porch in celebration.

Warmth returns mid- week, continuing the typical schizophrenic pattern, and along with it the extra hour of daylight after work to explore hope among the dead leaves; to sit on the deck with a glass of wine and watch the leaves grow and the dogwood blossoms open. Five of the six rose bushes I planted have leaf sprouts; the bleeding heart has its first string of little heart bells with their translucent clappers; the understated euphorbia bloom tops the tall velvety soft stalks; the weeping Japanese maple leaves are unfurling from last week's red buds like winged creatures; the wild violets are purpling the lawn and rock crevices and everywhere else I let them grow--which is anywhere they want.

The banana tree has ten three-inch shoots and yesterday I find one of the Purple Hearts up beside the front step. I don't know how I missed one of the hostas that must have sprung fully formed overnight, while its sisters are just poking through the soil. The Japanese Painted fern fronds are several inches tall (and I hadn't even seen them come up) and the fiddlehead shape of other ferns are emerging everyday, looking rather like those things children blow through at parties, to make the paper cylinder shoot into people's faces. The azaleas are budding and my feet don flip flops for the first time in the 70-something degree warmth.

My patio project under the canopy of the dogwood is coming along. The hole is dug--and redug after I decide to move it twelve inches toward the Pacific Northwest in order to avoid dealing with one of the tree roots. Yesterday I pick up 130 more bricks--thank you to Susan and Boyd for the donation and for helping me load and unload them; and to Vickie for working side-by-side with me to exchange the donated bricks with holes for the solid ones in my yard border. I only need 250 more. I decide to go with the costlier, but more manageable, bags of pea gravel and sand from Lowes as opposed to the hassle and subsequent shoveling of delivery en masse, and get ten fifty pound bags of gravel onto the construction site. Only thirty more to go. Advil is my new best friend. I put down the weed barrier landscaping cloth before I call it a day. My hopefulness is growing that I will be able to accomplish this herculean project; and leave a more or less permanent mark on this little space in the vast universe.

At five o'clock I sit on the deck with a cold one and raise a glass to my dad's best friend who is at that moment being memorialized in my home town on the left coast. It is also my Daddy's 94th birthday--or would have been had he not left us way too soon sixteen years ago. I have always been aware, of course, that my own birthday is on the eve of summer; but only this week do I realize that my father's is on the eve of spring. Connection. I recall the year he "let" me build a brick walkway from the edge of the yard to the compost pile. I'm pretty sure my work was not up to his standard, but if he said so I don't remember. I weep in hopefulness that he might be proud of me for tackling this patio; in spite of the fact that he was monumentally disappointed in who I was at the time of his death. And, in spite of his displeasure in me--and consequently mine in him--being my last memory of him, I miss him so much. That's kind of how I am, I have discovered as my years march on: however disillusioned people are with me or me with them, I remain hopeful that someday, some year, they will come back around and re-engage in relationship. Hope springs a turtle.

There is a perigee moon this weekend--a once every twenty years Supermoon. A perigee moon, I learn, is when it comes closest to the earth. It is big, it is bright, it is spectacular. Because of the trees that block my view of the moon as it rises from the horizon, I drag my tired muscles into the car and go in search of a better view--because the moon is worth it. A thin cloud veil floats across the celestial orb; it looks like a pentimento--the original art hiding behind an overwash, as if the artist is thinking she could do better and intending to try. But when I go out on the lawn for one last look before bed, the veil is gone. Hard to improve upon perfection.

It is the same moon that my almost longest ever friend sees as she returns to her winter home in Indiana after an impulse visit to North Carolina this week. (We have known each other since our daughters were in pre-school; they are still friends, too. Cheers, Charly.) It is the same moon an across-the-ocean reader of my blog sees. She (?) left a comment last week, saying, "I don't know how I arrive to your blog, but I like it just by reading the first phrase!!!" That pleases me so much. I click on her link and read her blog. I think she might be from India. Hope springs a turtle that connections of ordinary life to ordinary life will someday bring peace to this messed up world. It is the same moon my family on the other coast sees (but I expect it was hidden by clouds last night). It is the same moon Emma's friends from her Peace Corps days in Tanzania see. It is the same moon my church friends in Cuba this week see, with our brothers and sisters in Matanzas. It is the same moon that floats over northern Japan and Afghanistan and all the other troubled parts of the world. Look up! Look up! In the sky, in the garden, in relationship--hope springs a turtle.

* In gratitude for the title of this post to Brennan, a young student in my friend's classroom. Through the eyes of babes, in whom our hope lies.


Alejandra said...


My name is Alejandra, and I am from Mexico. I have started my blog few weeks ago.
Isn't it wonderful how internet reduced distances?
I like your blog, but I have a question.
Did you take all those beautiful photos?

Charly On Life said...

I missed the bleeding hearts? Each day of NC warmth brings prodigious amounts of cellular growth. Even tho we "talk" all the time, the visit brought home how long and intertwined our years and friendship. It keeps blooming like gardens everywhere.
Your camera eye pops!! Alejandra is right. :)

Bonnie Rae said...

This seems to be my very favorite post so far. I really ♡ love this garden blog. My God, I'm just so happy to have discovered this wonderful place !

Bonnie Rae said...

This seems to be my very favorite post so far. I really ♡ love this garden blog. My God, I'm just so happy to have discovered this wonderful place !