Wednesday, November 23, 2011

“Garden Gambit” by Charlene Jones

My neighbour
Things might be returning to normal. I am unable to decide which of the garden implements hanging around the backyard works for shifting which bit of a soil. The hose looks impossibly long once more, and where exactly the water has to go for the new lawn to grow best seems a question of imponderable depths.

I mosey down to the dock and stand regarding yesterday’s results. Sod lies in appropriate places across the top of the hill behind our beautiful dock and gorgeous lake. When I turn around toward the water, it is in time to avoid stepping on one of the gifts of summer, dropped in appallingly large quantities by the chevron flying symbols of Canada itself, geese.

That soothes me. One cannot be expected to do anything with bits of nature’s own richness lying about getting in the way of a foot or a lawn chair’s leg. No, it is vital I leave, rise again and go, not to Innisfree, but to the top of the hill where the lane with its newly laid surface of 3/4 lime crush and its short distance to my house on its other side offers sanctuary for my eyes.
My other neighbour
Usually I cannot fathom the kind of queries my neighbors, for instance, seem bent on exploring: how to rebuild their house, what is needed to restore their septic situation, how to lay a new lawn, where to put a new deck, hand-built shed, or play house for their kids – after of course they build said deck etc with their own hands.

I am slightly imbecilic. I need help working a manual can opener. When confronted with grass – lawn to some – I have to consider virtues involving the potential of dirt to house insects, or other creatures. I must think about how the slant of my backyard invokes a sort of growth pattern of exotic grasses, unnamed weeds, wildflowers, bushes and shrubs of genesis incognito, of elementals and elves, trolls and...

The mind, or at least mine, does not stop, but my body more than compensates. I sit down at this point and write. Or think. Usually that is.

Yet this summer, so far much has been accomplished (in the parlance of those who do such things). An old fence came down, a fence dating back to pre-neighbors, back into the time when my parents were alive and lived here on this property instead of resting in their final abode just across the yard, safely snug beneath some flowers, tulips I think, which come up only in spring, quickly giving way to varieties of odd greenery, the fence itself green in summer and red in the fall from English Ivy belting its every plank.

Now my yard is so open that my kind neighbors, who put up with my deficiencies around building in much the same way I imagine they help their kids grow out of strange phases, with encouraging phrases and knowing looks cast back and forth between the two adults, these kind neighbors can see me in the morning. And speak to me. Which of course means I have to both see and speak back, nicely when possible.

Since last week I have risen, dressed in old blue jeans, and spent each day driving to the store, fetching sod, returning, raking, laying and watering. Over and over, along the way pushing new sod in with my booted feet, regarding the sight of both yards, naked of fence, exposed to summer sun, I have acknowledged that my participation in this event means the yard has won. It will be tended. I will attend to that tending.

At least, that seemed to be its intentions.

But this morning, if it is not too soon to say, I have arrived once more at the bumbling, inept state of inner confusion so comforting, so long part of my psyche when it comes to all things outdoors. I have wandered around, yes, placed the damn hose where a morning hose must be placed, looked to the arrangement for the next hour and considered watering, then boot crushing the top of the hill across that lane. I have done all this.

And now I have returned. Rather than consider more alternatives, which flowers, where sod, how water, and what next year might bring by way of changes, I sit, sipping my coffee, writing this confession of my inadequacies. I have returned to my accustomed state of contemplation, my preferred state of pondering. Truly, it’s more comfortable to consider the physical world only from a distance.

Charlene Jones has been a practicing psychotherapist and meditation teacher for thirteen years. In addition, Charlene writes for the Musselman’s Lake Residents Association website (here), is the Musselman Lake Correspondent for the Stouffville Free Press, and is at work on her first novel. She has two books of poetry to her credit, as well as several individual poems published in many North American magazines.

See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, OrangevilleGravenhurst, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond

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