I have been at home in my garden for over 14 months. I have been untouched by the direct loss of loved ones. I’ve not been ill. I’m vaccinated, comfortable and companionable with the love of my life sharing this experience. There are many things I haven’t liked about this forced seclusion, but my good fortune has been apparent to me.
As I face another summer staycation in my garden, I am hopeful yet fearful of the weather. As much of the northern hemisphere sings the refrain of “April showers bring May flowers,” we are all wondering what the weather will bring, floods or drought?
March is unpredictable. One day it’s windy, the next day calm. Sprouts of green spring up from mud and buds begin to swell on bare branches of trees. Around the middle of the month, people cheer about their ancestry, start dancing a jig and profess a belief in leprechauns and fairies. Then when an entire hour suddenly disappears, everyone gets very emotional about it. We celebrate Women’s History during all of these disruptions, and it seems a perfect time as women often navigate these tempestuous events behind the scenes.
For years, I’ve gardened under the shade of a neighbor’s soaring pine trees, it’s branches extending far over my patio, the grill, and my orange tree. Their dark, dense canopy obstructing the light from the flower beds below. Now, the shade, the pollen, the pine cones, the needles, and the acidic air, are all gone. The change is extraordinary. The view eastward is wide open; the early morning sky, and moonrise, are visible.
Kiftsgate Courts Garden, Chipping Campden, England
Sometimes the most striking gardens are not those perfectly plotted on flat ground. Hills, valleys, and rocks may seem like less than favorable conditions, but gardeners are not easily deterred and will find a way.
Gardens are, as they always were, a retreat. Centuries ago, humans retreated from the wildness of nature, seeking protection from “lions, tigers and bears.” Today the garden is a retreat from the wildness of 21st-century life. Encouraged to shelter inside because of the pandemic it seems the world is looking out a window wondering what the way forward will be.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Mark Twain
Lankester Botanic Garden,
Cartago, Costa Rica
I always photograph orchids, not the ones in grocery stores but in botanic gardens or any orchid exhibitions I visit. I can’t seem to get enough of their vibrant colors and varied shapes. I look at them through the viewfinder to examine the details of their ruffles and wings, to look closely at the tiny faces and figures hidden among the blooms.
Eat, shop, parasail? The travel guides encourage you to do all three in Geneva, Switzerland. Along the city streets in this international hub of agencies, embassies, and banks, the mail carriers navigate their scooters, overloaded with enormous yellow bundles of mail past the World Health Organization headquarters, the International Red Cross, United Nations, and many more.
One of my earliest memories is standing on a stool alongside my Mother, shaping bits of pie crust into little cinnamon swirls. I made noodles for Sunday dinner when I was ten years old, and my Mother was in the hospital, recovering after the birth of my baby sister. I was a flighty 15 years old when I substituted cornmeal for corn starch in a strawberry pie.