May 17th, and then there were lilacs: two very tall trees of lavender colored blooms, mostly high out of reach. Not a problem, a long handled rake brought enough down to eye level to cut bouquets for several weeks.
This “painting my garden” idea was becoming a bit much, so I decided to execute a fast, very loose rendition of a bunch of lilacs in a vase. Not a good idea. In my previous life, before taking a 5 year hiatus to return to school, I could have made this idea work. I hesitate to include this image in my garden series, but I’ll allow it to speak to human frailty – like the flaw Navaho’s leave in the weavings of their rugs. Painting my garden is my re-entry project into self-expression and the search for beauty through art. Step-by-step as the garden grows…may I so grow.
May 9th,looked like it had snowed again, at least on the cherry and the apple trees…and on Isabella. No snow, just cherries and apples being themselves. As for Isabella, her groomer took about 10 years off her life with this new cut, and she, too, is simply being herself. I’m not going to paint her, but the apple blossoms were irresistible.
OnMarch 4tha light snow covered the ground, the streets were icy, and winter showed no signs of leaving. After living in the mountains for 18 years at 1000 feet above Bend (4500 feet) I was no stranger to spring snow. Lots of it. Up there in a land where, maybe,when spring had passed a few daisies and daffodils survived the summer deer.
But, surprise, all has changed down here in the city. That which came after the snow had melted around my little cottage was amazing. In the following posts I attempt to share a bit of summer as it blossoms behind a precious six-foot fence.
March 30th, Spring Equinox, 2018. Light was returning in our hemisphere, snow had melted in town, and I was in the back yard rooting around mysterious foliage in my thickly planted garden. Crunched between a fir hedge and an adjacent monkey tree, appeared my favorite fantasy flower, a Lenten Rose. Never had I seen one in real time, I’d only seen pictures of this plant, also called a Heliotrope. It was my favorite image that I had painted on Christmas cards – the year I set out to paint each and every card I sent individually. (Out of 100 friends on my list, I made it to 50. Fun, but too much.) So, here it was, in person. It’s not clear why I have such fondness for the Lenten Rose, sometimes referred to as the Christmas Rose. Maybe it’s the colors, the faded mauves and light greens, the shapes, the way the blooms grow close and back- to-back to one another. It awakens something deeply spiritual, or complete, or maybe ancient within.
It was at this point I decided to paint my garden, flower-by-flower as each new botanical wonder displayed its unique expression of creation.
April 28, 2018 on my early morning stroll, the weather still, sunny, and cold I discovered this tiny little tulip. It seemed shy nestled up beside a pinecone, maybe for a little comfort. Small as it was, it sounded a fanfare for its many sisters, brothers, cousins and family members who soon awakened showing random colors, shapes, heights in many locations throughout this half-acre garden.
NAOMI SHIHAB NYE: “Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, / you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. / You must wake up with sorrow. / You must speak to it till your voice / catches the thread of all sorrows / and you see the size of the cloth. / Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, / only kindness that ties your shoes / and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread, / only kindness that raises its head / from the crowd of the world to say / It is I you have been looking for, / and then goes with you everywhere / like a shadow or a friend.”
In Bend the snow has mostly disappeared and we’re warming up over here on the East side of the Cascades. My half acre garden has many, yet, unknowns all just waking up from their very long winter’s sleep. This Spring is definitely something to look forward to.
My family gathered in my new home to celebrate my 79th birthday, and we had a wonderful time. Flora, Han’s wife who is a native of China, cooked for us, and the food was unlike any Chinese I’ve ever had. She was the hit of the party. We ate, and ate, and visited, and laughed and really enjoyed one another’s company. We had cupcakes from Ida’s in Bend. My cup cake had one candle on it. It took me two tries to blow it out. What’s up with that?
It was a particularly joyful day for me. My birthday fell on Sunday January 28th, 2018, and on Saturday January 27th I unpacked the last of my boxes completing a 24 month run of legal stresses, showing (35 times) and selling the Skyliner home, extensive storm damage to the Skyliner house, house hunting, four moves, and days and days of lifting boxes, unpacking, organizing and dumping old stuff. I’m so thankful for my son Terry’s faithful support, physically, financially, and emotionally, through this journey, and I’m grateful that at ages 77,78, and now 79 I actually had the strength to do so much. Whew! But, now it’s done, and I’m in a very cute 1100 square foot house on the South end of Bend. It’s nestled on a half acre of gardens with paths leading to little sitting areas and an abundance of beautiful statuary – and “yard work galore.” I’ve seen the yard in bloom, but now its doormat but ready to explode into life as Spring nears. Many surprises ahead. I do know there are roses in my garden, a slightly rare phenomenon in Central Oregon. Lavender, apple trees, many berries, and tons of flowers are on their way.
I’m so very grateful for my family and for the joys we share. And to all who extended birthday wishes to me, thanks you. I love you all.