Gardening At Night Part 4

Before I share the rest with you, I just wanted to say thank you so much for all the sweet birthday wishes you posted yesterday for Oliva. We had a great day and the celebration continues today just down the road a bit at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I hope to keep up with your updates too but my connection is usually unreliable at my parent’s house. Regardless I will catch up with you but it might be later than usual. Have a great weekend!

Love,

Sandra

Gardening at Night Part 4:

Then the  most amazing thing happened:

lilybloom

 

From the very bottom of the pond these divine beauties emerged:

 

purplebloom

I gained confidence as new life began to bloom and surface; and as my gardening improved so did my health. The darkness was more of a low lying fog but even that was progress from where I was when the project was just a hole in the ground.

I’ve added a few embellishments like a flowering bonsai, a lemon cypress, a fairy bungalow…

pond11

 

pond14

 

pond12

Just as the little fish in that pond needed a support system to thrive I discovered that I do too. Our pond is where I learned to swim. It took the help of my dear hub-a-dub-dub, my daughter, a healthy dose of western medicine, and a deep hole in the sandy dirt from which nothing took root before I slipped and fell in the water.

 

 

Gardening At Night Part 3

Take Cover.

pond3

Ground cover. First I tried this scotch moss that quickly died out but not before I was able to pave a winding walkway. Yes I placed each pebble and river rock by hand. It was definitely a Karate Kid like exercise in practicing mindfulness only instead of waxing on and off I was moving stones one by one:

pond4

Our summers are too warm and dry to provide the moisture these guys needed to establish themselves. I replaced dead spots with fresh plantings of other varieties of herbs, ground covers, succulents and before too long a patchwork of landscape took root:

pond7

 

pond9

 

pond8

You can see how my supervisor sprouted along with the annuals and baby tears.

pond10

Then the most amazing thing happened…

 

Gardening At Night Part 2

My education in gardening began the day I started treatment for major depressive disorder. My prior relationship with plants went something like this, once a year I’d get an image in my head of a flourishing vibrant patch of dirt from which something like this would appear:

hens and chicksBut reality can be a heartless wench sometimes and dash your dreams into this:

my hen n chick

That’s just to give you an idea of the skill level we’re talking about here. A whole lot of heart, big dreams, but not much potential in the gardening department which is partly why I wasn’t quick to volunteer to lend a hand with this undertaking. Shortly after Erik installed the pond liner, pump, and a few goldfish the project lost momentum. Here’s Oliva trying out her baseball mitt last year in front of litter box pond:

OlivaPond

Remember that while this distraction was in the works I was also attending an intensive outpatient program. The days were rhythmic and predictable: group and individual therapy from 8am-12:30; 1-5pm was reserved for reflection and homework. We were asked questions like “what can you do to care for yourself?” or, “what steps will you take today when you become anxious?” Sometimes even just a simple directive was given, “practice self-compassion” or “be mindful today.” I wanted so badly to feel differently that I clung to every exercise and really gave my heart over to the process. I spent my afternoons reflecting and practicing the things I learned that morning and when I needed a break I’d research water gardening because I knew the pond was one of Erik’s dreams and because I needed to busy myself and get out of my head. I found a local place that specializes in pond plants and gathered water lettuce, lemon bacopa, water lilies, horsetail rush, and water hyacinths. Looking back now I can see that water planting was an easy way to practice mindfulness. I watched in disbelief as the submerged organisms flourished and supported each other. The fish grew longer and plumped up as the floating lettuce and hyacinths multiplied like clover over time.

pond13

See the bird perched on top of the spitter? So now there was this beautiful little aquatic centerpiece surrounded by a big ugly sandbox. I knew what I had to do next. Tune in tomorrow for another installment and thanks for following along!

Gardening At Night Part 1

I wrote a little bit about my 2nd deep sea plunge into major depression a while ago when I was still navigating the waters. I’m so happy to at least have my head above sea level at this point; not sure I will ever feel completely dry but at least I can breathe now that I’m no longer pinned beneath the waves. Medication, treatment, stress reduction, reconnecting with a support system of loving friends/family, and maintaining this safe little space here with you have really made a big difference.

But there’s more to it than that and it all  starts with this guy:

MrE

Hubby or Hub-a-dub-dub or Hub-a-saurus Rex; pretty sure I’m the only one who can get away with these variations so please resist the urge. Anyway, this guy said to me one day in February last year that an eye-sore-triangular-shaped-neighborhood-kitty-litterbox-patch-of-dirt in our backyard would make the perfect spot for a pond. I laughed, maybe even snorted a bit before telling him he was crazy. I called him crazy. That’s funny to me now because in the rearview I can see that I was the one going crazy. Giving up on food entirely, staying in bed all day, bursting into tears when interrogated at the grocery store, “paper or plastic?” Are you kidding me? Do I look like I’m in any condition to answer that kind of question right now? Hubby didn’t let my lack of enthusiasm muddy his vision. Maybe because he needed a distraction, or maybe he knew I needed the distraction. Either way he went ahead without me:

pond1

For awhile it looked like a meteor smashed into what was once our unintentional public potty for the feline persuasion. And not too long after the fictional meteor touched down this appeared:

pond2

A pond liner.

Still unconvinced I just shook my head and thought, “it’s hopeless, nothing’s gonna grow in that yucky sandy soil.” The project stalled. A couple months later my symptoms advanced into acute territory. I was fatigued by my own desperate thoughts of escape and began groping for the nearest exit. Fortunately hubby looked me in the eyes and told me with great concern what he was going to do if I couldn’t do it for myself. I won’t rehash that entire plate of tamales here but if you missed it and want to follow along help yourself to Rogue Waves then continue on to Caution: Instability Ahead.

“What’s all this have to do with gardening?” you say.

Everything dear reader. Stick with me, I’ll circle back around and pick you up. Look for part 2 tomorrow.

 

 

 

Just a Clown

watercolor profile

“My thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear with my mouth.” -Modest Mouse

*****

Every morning is the same. I put on my bright red nose, paint my face, lace up my oversized combat boots, and clamor into my impossibly small car. Knees resting on the dash. My commute gives me time to rehearse my lines, practice my smile. The makeup irritates my skin but the plus side is it perfectly conceals a tearstained face. The sunshine plays off my flashy standard issue polyester jumpsuit which has elastic bands at the neck, wrists, and ankles. Somehow the elastic doesn’t have very much give and as a result this design element constricts my circulation making me feel trapped and lightheaded.

My boss, the bearded lady wants me to reconsider the high wire act. Says it was a once in a life time malfunction. Won’t ever happen again. Her words are empty. She doesn’t care about me. Her bottom line is the show. Fill the seats. Do what it takes. If not, step aside because there are others eagerly awaiting the chance to walk out on that wire. High above the disgruntled big cats, over the artists juggling various flaming objects, near the show-off contortionists continually bending folding transforming themselves into something else entirely. I’m just a clown.

But I suppose acrophobia is my super power now. That’s how my doctor refers to my extreme fear of heights, acrophobia. When you’re an acrobat it’s harder to appreciate that play on words. I wasn’t always this way. I developed this intense fear after that incident when the wire snapped and I free fell. The act itself of falling was quite peaceful although alarming as it was unexpected. The landing, I imagine was rough I don’t recall that part.

On my way back to the big top and the thought of possibly having to teeter on that wire once again brings on a new wave of panic. I turn up the radio to drown out my thoughts.

“Why does it always feel like I’m caught in an undertow?

Walk a little farther to another plan.
You said that you did, but you didn’t understand.

I know that starting over is not what life’s all about.
But my thoughts were so loud, I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud, I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud.” -The World at Large, Modest Mouse