Monday, January 14, 2019

Dreaming of Spring While Perusing Plant & Seed Catalogs

After spending this  past weekend snowbound, enjoying the beauty of the winter wonderland while resisting the need to clear the walkway, vehicles, driveway and deck, I was thrilled to receive my first plant catalog of 2019 in today's mail from Brent & Becky's Bulbs. I tolerate winter and inclement weather. Because of my geographic location in Northwestern Virginia, it is impossible to escape despite being "technically" in the "south".  To survive the months where my feet stay numb from the cold, I dream of the approaching spring and start to think about planting flowers, shrubs, fruits, vegetables and herbs. And, my Dad shared photographs of his pussy willow starts that he cultivated from cuttings, which really started my mind churning. 

While we have endeavored with mixed success to carve a bit of Eden from the hardscrabble landscape on our windy, rocky ridge for the last thirteen years using a pick, Cub Cadet and 24 inch auger,  we haven't lost our optimism and have started to see that sometime in our lifetimes there may be an area of lushness at least around the backyard deck. Trees are beginning to mature. We've discovered shrubs that will tolerate the harsh conditions. And we've learned to use vines and planters to bring color to the deck. 

Last year was the first time we tried raised garden beds with Mel's Mix using the square foot gardening method.  I tried starting some plants from seeds indoors. There was a lot of trial, error and lessons learned. I discovered peat pots dry out quickly. Miss just a few days of watering and everything wilts. None of the peppers survived. The tomato plants thrived until the continued torrential rains with nominal sunlight throughout summer stunted the production of actual fruit. The melons did well until the raccoons pilfered them. The African marigolds were beautiful. I planted those in the raised beds to deter pests; however, this type of  marigold grew so huge that the flowers blocked the minimal sunlight we had from the seedlings. I misjudged some companion planting, underplanted beans, and waited too late to plant lettuce, spinach, peas and other cooler season vegetables. The first planting of potato did well. The deer ate the fall crop. Note to self: build the fence!!!

I also discovered that it doesn't make sense to plant tulips on our property. I love the vast variety of colors and shapes of tulips available. Deer eat tulips. Deer eat tulip bulbs. So, I will plant no more tulips. Deer tend avoid daffodils. So, I've learned to appreciate daffodils. Squirrels like daffodils; but our roving attack cats have protected the property from thieving squirrels. Regretfully, they've made friends with the raccoons and the deer are fearless. 

So, back to dreaming of springtime and planning the garden. Before long the crocus will bloom, my feet will warm and the cycle of life continues. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year! It is the dawn of 2019, which seems inconceivable to me, a child of the 60s, teen of the 70’s and young adult of the 80s. When I started my career in insurance claims in 1980, I could not fathom that I had an anticipated work life of 45 years. With a lifetime ahead of me, as a 20 year old college graduate, I imagined career success, a fairytale marriage with a stately Georgian house in the right community, two girls with perfect complexions that would arrive after my 30th birthday, a fashionable wardrobe curated from Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Talbots and cute boutiques, and vacations to world class beaches or exotic locales. In my imagination, my life was planned to perfection. I was a modern woman and ready to roar, break the glass ceiling, have ‘it all’.

The Universe had other ideas. While my life has, to a great extent, been one I could not have imagined, Fate knocked me off my chosen path and left me at times wandering aimlessly through a morass of pain and confusion, complicated by my inclination to try to force solutions or outcomes which nearly always backfired. While I enjoyed early professional success, I made the critical decision to give it up to follow my then husband to Asia. For that I have no regrets. That decision afforded me the opportunity to live in Taiwan and Hong Kong and travel the world in comfort for more than five years. However, there was a price to be paid: a controlling, alcoholic spouse who  I allowed to subjugate me, emotional trauma, financial collapse, and the loss of unrealized dreams.

For a long time I was poisoned by resentment. But I found healing in Al Anon groups in Hong Kong, Frederick, Maryland and Winchester, Virginia; gardening; yoga; meditation; and a newly discovered spirituality unaffilated with organized religion. My choices did not always resonate with my family; but I found my revised path. 

I’ve found peace, serenity and gratitude with my second husband, a Renaissance man of sorts who constantly challenges me and encourages me to try new things. Instead of kids, I have two stepdaughters, five grandchildren and a sanctuary for abandoned  felines. My career trajectory has stalled; but I’ve finally made peace with that. I wouldn’t trade the adventures that I’ve experienced, the highs and lows, the spiritual journey, my domestic tranquility or peace of mind for more responsibility that would interfere with my enjoyment of life.

I am on the cusp of 60. Born in the Chinese Year of the Earth Pig, I’ve come through the cycle. 2019 ushers in with the Year of the Earth Pig once again. 

2019. I feel optimistic. I feel grateful for my blessings, my family, my health, and the opportunities that are ahead. Welcome New Year🎊