The Other Woman’s Garden

We moved in on a Friday, the latest in a long string of warm non-winter days at the end of February. We didn’t even wear coats on moving day, as I recall. In fact, we had so little need for coats that winter, we packed them far too carefully away and still haven’t found them in a box or bin or laundry basket, some 7 months later.

Moving in at the end of winter is ideal, because you can hunker down inside for several weeks and weekends, unearthing odds and ends, setting up rooms, moving furniture and trying to decide where pictures hang, all without feeling guilty that you’re missing nice weather outside.

It also allows you to witness the gardens and flower beds come to life in real-time. You get to watch them wake up, and wonder what is peaking its little green head through the soil everywhere you look.

It’s a strangely intimate thing, to walk among the plants and bushes and literal fruits of another gardener’s labors. It feels like trespassing–even though the garden beds have transferred ownership–to survey the location of the herbs and reap the rewards of a forgotten compost-pile-turned-volunteer-tomato-bed.

Somehow it never felt so delicate to walk among the rooms where they had lived, or to look into mirrors that once reflected a different family’s faces, or to look from the windows and see the very same views of the world. It didn’t feel too close to see the dog house or the scratches on the fence from their pups, or to find out the nickname for the house held among the neighbors for years.

For me, the most tender discoveries were the patch of lemon mint, the hibiscus, and the raspberries. All three are in unsuspecting corners of our odd-shaped hexagon-fenced yard, and all three caught me off guard. All three remind me that someone else came before, choosing seeds and sun patterns (or perhaps not choosing at all!), and breaking this soil I now call my own.

I can’t wait to thank her.


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