I've said here before that one of my favorite parts of gardening - and this is a favorite part of the gardening in the Pacific Northwest - is the succession, the year-roundness of it. Knowing what will follow, even interplanting the next season into the current one, feels like practice for real life to me; a challenging mix of planning and presence, a titration of change.
I know in my body that growth is a coil. Up is around; forward is back. As much as I have been known to change the scenery, though, this is one of those times where I am actually dismantling my own work: I stayed for the whole cycle.
A few years into this garden (if I had the time I'd find the pictures, but let's just imagine), after the lead testing and lead-abatement grant work we had done on the house and garage (and yard), we built sides for all three beds, and added a bunch of top soil and compost. I put the screws in then; now I am taking them out. The beds have been crumbling for years. The kids use them for balance beams; the slugs and ants for homes. As each bed comes out, the soil there becomes the former garden. I give away what is left to the rabbits. No new seeds go in.
This spring we cut down the two apple trees we planted as our second act on this bit of land (right after making fences to hold the chickens we brought from the farm). I planted a Western Red Cedar in the back corner of our lot. A new kind of promise, presence, plan.
I've been wanting (asking, campaigning) to turn the garage into an apartment for a long time. I've always wanted more people on the property. I like change. I like sharing. And for so long I was here so much; I wanted a way to add to our income without lessening my emphasis on home, kids, food, friends, rhythm in place. I imagined how I would share the food and beauty of the garden with travelers, guests. I imagined jars of jam and pickles waiting for people when they came to check in; a list of things currently ok to harvest alongside. How welcoming our little plot would be for young families, elders, people from far away. How grounding.
That plan was not to be. Now that the project I wanted is happening, the feelings I have are nothing like I dreamed. I'm going to work full time in a few weeks. My kids are bigger: we are home so much less. I don't pickle and jam all day with a baby on my back, a toddler under foot. After nearly eleven years, this yard farm has run its course. The new openings on the garage necessitate paths, privacy plantings. There are no steps now down from the deck (to the disappointment of short-legged dogs and grandparents) and when they are built, it will mean more paths, more planting.
Also for years we harbored fantasies of somehow taking over the lot behind us, with the long-abandoned house or without. We sure talked a lot about what we might do with that land. And all the time, the blackberries over there got stronger. We (mostly Jeff) fought back, other neighbors fought back. I think the city even sends someone to mow the front yard every once in a while. Finally, just a few weeks ago, I told Jeff we should build a fence. If I had more time, I'd write all the words about growing up, accepting limitations, the depth of transition -- but let's just imagine.
Our greenhouse is full of bikes.
Later, there will time to write about the new plans, the new present. For now, I am letting go.