I have always liked getting my hands dirty, feeling the earth run through the webbing of my fingers, digging through sand, mud and stone. My passion must have started as a child growing up in the hot, dry desert sands of Kuwait. Unbelievable, yet true, in the stubborn soil of petroleum rich land, we had the most colorful garden of flowers, shrubs and trees that bloomed. The tall delphiniums lined the grey concrete walls of our garden, and the aster and daisies grew in wild clumps of bush throughout. It was the envy of the neighborhood, and my mother took great pride in ownership. It was mother who lovingly tended to the first snap dragons and carnations with fingers that carefully plucked away the crisp, dead leaves and dried debris that had fallen from the overhanging trees. She used the shade of those trees to plant her feet firmly on the pebbled paths that divided the plots of hues as she moved the garden hose from one section to the other. It was as though she fell under the spell of a certain nostalgia, a spell that remained with her whenever she found herself among nature, potted, planted or wild. She loved her garden. She looked centered. Whole.
I too love the garden. There is something magical about trees of all shapes and sizes – their majesty, their sheer grandeur as you stand in their shadow, the way they change but still remain a constant presence whether in full flower preparing for fruit or with bare branches, dormant for the winter. In every home that I have lived, I’ve enjoy planting rose bushes, seasonal flowers that bloom and trees with fruit, tending to their needs. When I am digging beneath the earth, beneath the flower beds, I am wholly involved. I begin to lose myself in the physical work that is nearly as old as the planet itself…scraping, digging and mixing to prepare the soil for what it does best…sustain life. I am revived, centered and whole again. Why? Maybe it’s because when “things to do” on my list add up, I don’t do every task with the whole of myself. I look at the calendar, and the next appointment or date is already moving in before I have even finished whatever I have set for the day. Stress and pressure build up. I step outside. I fall under the spell of a garden sanctuary and of life sustaining earth. Alone with the plants and trees, their presence is felt, strong yet delicate, sustaining me with their steadfast beauty. The roses I planted smile at me. I feel joy. The eucalyptus tree with its gnarled branches that let the moonlight shine through stands majestic at the edge of my hill. It was there before I moved into this house. It will be here when I move out.
I am moving.
It all started when fatigue, a word that did not exist in my dictionary, started to creep its way into my lifestyle decisions. There was no more white space in my calendar to even pencil something in, and I noticed that the yard had slowly transformed itself and had become rougher around the edges. I could no longer flatter myself to be a nurturer and yard-proud without making too many landscaping changes. In frustration, I said, “I want to own a home. I don’t want brick and mortar to own me.” My husband, bless his understanding and intuitive heart, gave my words a short second thought. We concluded that it was far more important to spend 168 hours of every week truly enjoying a good return on our investments of time and energy into family than to spend precious time and energy into maintaining a house and lifestyle we seem to have outgrown.
I am moving.
It is exciting, however, the process of downsizing is intimidating and complex. One thing is for certain; the joys of my life have nothing to do with brick and mortar. They do not change. The morning and evening sky. Sunrises that move me. Sunsets that draw me to prayer. The flowers. Trees. Summer sun and dew on grass. Leaves that crunch under my feet. Rain, snow atop mountains, the first crocus. I depend on these true joys that have nothing to do with possessions—nature, life source, human love—all these joys make life flow through me at every moment and every day.
When I finally move house, I know I’ll miss the trees more than the bricks and mortar.