I've spent countless nights falling asleep not to sheep jumping over a fence, but fixating on garden design--where should plant x go, what if I move plant y here to where plant b is, and then texture it in this way.... I've spent hours on my knees looking at the undersides of leaves, down at ground level between their stems to witness a whole different world invisible to my 5'10" vantage point. I've burned my back, I've cut my skin open, I've been stung, I've been angry, I've been perfectly balanced, I've sweat like a fountain, I've bled and shed my spirit over this garden like a sheet placed over morning glories before the first frost. The coverage of my life in this garden is total, comfortable. And complete.
Maybe not complete, but I feel it's run its course. I've noticed a sharp change in my presence in the garden--not a gardener for myself in the moment, but one looking forward, making a place ready for someone else as a gift. And not birds or insects or reptiles, I mean a new owner.
Oh, I'm not moving anywhere soon, but I'm applying for university teaching jobs, and I am more ready than ever in my life to begin this new chapter a year from now, to move and put down real roots, to make a real home in a real place I love. Nothing against Nebraska or this fine home and garden, I just feel myself slipping away and I can't do anything about it.
I still long to go outside, but there's not much to do. The garden is planted and is now left to its own devices, evolving as it will with only a few nips and tucks on my part. But the 1,500 feet feels constraining. I want more. I want to try more. And not just the rest of my .20A lot, but many acres. A few dozen. A few hundred.
I feel bad now when I'm in the garden, like I'm watching over a sick relative, nursing something, treading water, afraid of what another owner might do here (lawn, pesticides), I'm just so conflicted. This fall I'm planting a few things I may never see mature, and simply hope someone won't pull out. Asters are blooming that never have before. 3-4 year old plants are just realizing their potential. I may be here another year or more, who knows, but it's too late. I won't spend money to add on, that's silly. I've begun pulling away and I hate that. I love this garden, I love what I've learned, I love who I've become because of it. But I suppose it's like any period or place in one's life--it teaches you, you live it fully, you learn from it, and when it's time to let go you have to let go, otherwise you won't be able to savor the next period or place to come along and learn what you need to learn.
But lucky for me I don't have to let go just now. I'm headed outside into autumn, smoke riding the cool air. I suddenly feel a spark like a flame rekindled. I remember our first date, dear garden, the 18 yards of mulch, the young and eager iris and joe pye, the internet searches, the reference books, the failures and discoveries, the fantasies in my head when we were apart (so delicious, like a wave pulsing in my blood). When my hands reach into your soil it is my soil, our soil, clay becoming loam, roots grasping deeper and interlocking, a chorus in the soil, a chorus above, a hymn and a rhythm that was not here before in either of us.