It’s been raining like clockwork — as in spring forward brings spring showers brings Spring indeed. The lawn is greening, perennials are pushing through soil, bulbs are blooming — or swelling and swooning with bud — while shrubs and trees attempt to steal the lime-light wearing their best feathery green fringe. Not just in name, Spring is truly here.
What difference a year can bring.
After last year’s drought, I can’t imagine ever regarding rainfall as anything other than the miracle it is. These days, when I hear the first pinging upon roof vents, everything else gives way. I can think of nothing better to do than peek out windows and doorways to watch drops of all sizes hit hard scape like a dart board. Dot. Dot. Dot. The single circles of sound dissolve into a symphony of crackling static; random raindrops swirl to spill liquid, coloring outside of their lines to cover every speck of visible surface. When it reaches ground, it finally smells like rain — that inexplicably sweet, dampened earth mixed around seed and root that transforms a garden into a dwelling of possibilities.
It’s hard not to look outside without thinking about the changes this small urban property has seen in the last twelve months. Yesterday marked one-year of ownership. I no longer think about that uprooting from Mesta Park or the reasons that spurred our twenty block migration north. And while it’s true my bad knee needed a one-story home, I now like to think that this 1950s California Ranch needed me too.
By the time we closed on the purchase, this property had been through a bit of a drought too; its owners had moved away to greener pastures long before selling it. And though the house was never ugly to my eye, others didn’t share my opinion. Why even at first glance, my own dear sister wanted to know what I was going TO DO about those front porch shrubs. Like every other shrub planted without rhyme or repetition, these were starched crisp at attention in military crew-cut formation…and less I forget, my ‘meet and greet’ plantings were a mismatched set of Mutt and Jeff.
To say the house didn’t ‘show well’ perhaps explains why it languished on the market for a year before we came along. To borrow words of one new neighbor — the same who walks by my house everyday, just to track the transformations taking place — it had a bad case of the blahs when she saw it during ‘open house.’
No one says that anymore.
The all too-many-to-recount changes were created through good, old-fashioned elbow grease — what I once thought my grandmother kept under her kitchen sink — during the worst drought I’ve ever experienced.
Some changes were subtle while others were expansive. Yet all were important. And if I were to do it all again — heaven help me — I’m not sure what I’d do different. At least, that’s MY story. Which is not to say this place is perfect or ever will be.
But I’ll crawl out on one of my green-leafed limbs to say it’s perfect enough — perfect enough to last me the rest of my life. And though I can’t point a finger at the reasons why, I know that the gifts of renewal I’ve showered upon this place have somehow strengthened me too.
We’ve bonded, this house and me, project by messy project.
Why to say this place feels as right as rain, after a long hard drought means something to me this year that it didn’t last. It means I’m home, darling, in a way that has nothing to do with labels.
Just beautiful… your words and your work! What an achievement, Janell. Your house and garden look serene and welcoming. This is nothing short of an inspiration. I’ve enjoyed all these timely posts on restoration and regeneration.
I’m glad you took the post in the spirit it was intended — for all the work on this place, or on my sister’s place — none of it is undertaken for any reason other than a love of beauty. And for Love itself.
I often say my projects are a way of ‘creating a little beauty with God.’ And that’s all. A little. It’s all I can do.
And in my writing, I try to express truth more than beauty. Sometimes — often? — I find the truth only as I write the words. But I do regard truth and beauty as kissing cousins. One is never far from the other. So if I write truth, maybe sometimes, beauty peeks through. And if so, it’s never mine. But, of course, you know that.
I do wish I didn’t keep coming to your blogs exhausted! It’s been quite a week – when I was blathering on in your last blog, about Ree Drummond and all that, I was in Louisiana for a Rabbit Festival (more about that later) and had just discovered my traveling companion, bless her little heart, snored. A lot. Loudly. I ended up getting three hours’ sleep if I was lucky, and that in the walk-in shower. 😉
Then, the day you posted this, i found out a good blogging friend who’d disappeared over a year ago from the wordpress forums, her own blog and all of ours, died of cardiac arrest in a homeless shelter. It’s quite a story – she was a broadcast journalist and radio host, among other things. Story’s on my blog.
But here I am, as exhausted as if I’d buried a member of my own family. Moreso, actually, but that probably has to do with the fact that I’m still not caught up on sleep from last weekend.
Which brings me to the wonderful transformation you’ve wrought here, despite all the exhaustion you must have felt digging around in all of that during the drought. It just looks wonderful. I don’t have the gardener’s eye, to visualize how things will be in five years, but I suspect you do, and it will be so much fun to watch all this develop.
Just out of curiosity, do you have black plastic down in those beds, or anything like that? Or do you depend on the mulch to do its thing? I love the curves. Did you reseed, or is that the rain doing its thing for the lawn?
I smelled “green” here last week for the first time. We’ve had enough rain now that the clover is exploding and getting cut. There’s no better smell in the world – here’s to more of it, all through the summer!
I hope you’re feeling more rested today. I’ve been tired too, though mine stems more from allergies than sleep deprivation or grief.
You know, as I reflect upon our mutual tiredness and the last months of ‘ella’s’ life, I’m reminded all over again of how much our bodies and spirits are interconnected — not just our own body and our own spirit to one another — but the bodies and spirits of others to our own. Why even the state of my garden and my home affects my own sense of well-being. Life in this material world of ours is mysterious indeed. And no where is that more true, for me, that playing in that rich garden dirt.
Yes, I think I can ‘see’ my garden five years hence — and believe it or not — I have a full garden out there, in spite of all the open spaces between plants. Those plants are going to fill in and I look forward to watching the show. And, of course, tending to their needs and making adjustments, where needed or desired, since a garden is never finished. Not even the boundary lines are finished — I’ve left them all open — no markers or steel edging of any kind — so I am free to expand as inspiration (and energy) comes.
In response to your questions, I use barriers — fabric landscaping material — only on hard scape surfaces, so that gravel and flagstone paths are less prone to weeds. In the garden, I amended soil to a 6 inch depth so in that process, I removed most cumulative weed seed. Then I topped the garden off with 3-4 inches of mulch — a mix of cottonseed and pecan hulls. Both gardening practices have kept weeds to a minimum — in the front, I pulled less than a dozen weeds this spring.
No over-seeding on our lawn should be needed. What you see is Bermuda greening up. Early this year, just like everything else in Oklahoma gardening. The green is so green it almost hurts my eyes to look at it. Gosh, this must sound weird coming from a gardener’s hand.
It’s Sunday. Time for sabbath rest, I’m thinking.