Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Gifts of Time

I have been given a gift.  The gift of time away from the art I love.  Time away helps us appreciate things.  I think it had become so much of my identity that I lost some of the other parts of me.  I mourned like a spoiled child for a while.  Even though I chose to care for my dad, and I knew it wouldn't be easy, I didn't expect to lose my desire to make art!  It was probably depression at first.  Then I lapsed into apathy.  Now that things are more routine I just don't have time.  Other things have taken it's place.  And its Okay.
 I don't write this because I'm unhappy.  I miss the art.  But it's just waiting for another day and time.
The garden is my palette now.  I put my hands in the dirt and find peace.  I pull weeds with a vengeance and take out my frustrations with my hoe.  I hear the bee's buzz as they move from bloom to bloom. I stop and watch them labor, their legs weighted down and painted yellow and drunk with pollen. I pick those blooms and bring them inside to cheer an old man.  I bring him outdoors (if it stops raining long enough-been a very wet year!) and we sit in the sun and let it warm us.  Most times he's silent.  Sometimes he sleeps.  He can sit out there for hours.  He loves the heat. He goes out most everyday since it warmed enough in the spring. He appreciates the gardens I've created and the bird feeders that bring the birds that do acrobatics and fight and occasionally hit a window.  He asks what type of bird the bright red one is.  A cardinal, I reply.  Pretty, he say's.  I've had the time to really make my yard a sanctuary again.  A quiet place of rest and beauty. I've asked him to join me in the work, but he is content to sit and watch.  The effort it would take exhausts him, this man who was never idle. Sometimes just the walk to and from the patio winds him. He smiles and let's the sun tan his face.  He dozes off again until the sound of a neighbors mower startles him.  He sees the mower and associates the noise, drifts off again. It is in those times I truly appreciate the choice I've made.  How lucky I am to do this work.
Its rained a lot this year, so everything is green and the flowers are happy.  The vegetable garden is producing faster than we can eat it.  I give it away.  I always overplant.  One year, many years ago, I planted the most beautiful pottage garden with alternating red and green cabbage on the outside of four beds with vegetables, divided by a path of grass with a tall planter in the center.  It was glorious.  Far too many cabbage to eat, but it looked good enough to be photographed for a book!  There was an arbor at the entrance gate loaded with morning glories.  One morning I came out to find the arbor toppled over by the weight of them! 
I've had many gardens through the years.  I come by it naturally.  My mother was a farmers daughter and we never went without a garden in any country or state we lived.  Dad still tells the story of her attempts in Alaska where the seeds produced sprouts that shot up about ten inches and immediately died.  Permafrost.  The ground is just frozen a few inches down so nothing will grow!  My grandmother used to let me help her plant her pansies and the seeds of sweet peas in the cold spring soil.  I remember the wonder of them shooting out of the ground and producing the brightly colored blooms with the heady scent of heaven itself. It's interesting what impresses a child and what of those memories remains as an adult. And then in old age, with Alzhiemers, as the short term memories fail, the long term memories seem to survive.  Some haunt my dad.  The wars, his abusive father.  Others cheer him.  Memories of my mother and thier 64 years together adventuring in more countries that I can name.  Or he anymore. 
We talk about these memories as we sit in the sun in the garden.  More so when he first came than now, he cries with the memory. I steer the conversation to a happier topic.  Sometimes he confuses the memories and puts this bit with that one.  It depends on the day.  I know more about him now than I ever did.  Some of his tales I'm not sure are fact.  Some of it I have verified with others, but sometimes its fantasy mixed with truth.  Odd how the mind works.  Or doesn't.   
So it seems to me that the garden has produced quite well these past years.  Not just flowers or food, but repose and peace. And time.  


  1. You are doing a wonderful job, Michelle! Your art will be growing and fermenting in your brain, just as a seed appears to be dead, it is waiting to bloom. But just think of the added empathy and love your art will have . NOTHING we experience is ever wasted!
    God Bless , Michelle!

  2. glad you have found the gift hidden in this bad disease...not all do.

    Glad you have so much peace in your life.

    I am focusing on plein air painting and clay sculpting.
    may call you next month to see if i can come sit in your garden and paint.


  3. You have a talent for putting emotions in your words. That was beautiful.