Tag Archives: spring

time to garden


I’m better at growing cats than veggies

I feel the vibrations in the air, the low hum: spring is here.

(no, really, it is- this is the Southern Arizona desert, after all)

I’ve got these bright, happy looking flowers planted in colorful pots beside the driveway, but it’s not enough. I want to plunge my hands into the dirt. I want to cut away the dead and coax forth the new. I want to smell and dig and brush my hair out of my eyes and squint and frown and sigh with pleasure at the return of the perennials. I want to water. And water. And water.

I want a real garden.

I’ve always lacked the discipline to be a true gardener, especially in a challenging desert environment, although I could pretend like I was one when my ex was around; he would breathe on scorched earth and an Eden would miraculously burst forth at his feet. I’m lazy and my material abilities are often not enough to realize or sustain all that I get interested in, so a lot of efforts to garden through the years have never really come to fruition. But I’ve always had this passion for living things, for life. I love to surround myself with growing things. And  I want my daughter to share in it, to relish the simple joy of watching a seedling sprout overnight, of savoring summer’s first tomato.

In recent years I was too much the gypsy for a proper garden to make sense; low-demand plants on the back patio of a rental had to suffice. Now that I have a house and I’m there pretty much all the time, it doesn’t feel like mine without abundant planters, without garden beds in tidy rows, full of new green tendrils popping through the soil, seeking the sun and air.

As things stand now, the back yard looks more like Syria than Better Homes and Gardens. There is much work to do, but it is time.

connection to the past

I’ve started to say that Mom passed away last year.  As opposed to “December,” “[X] months ago” or “recently.” Maybe because it does feel like a new year.  The garden is bursting forth with life.  We are already sweating during hot afternoons.  Tucson has been sweltering the last few days- an early summer, it seems. Already, we have broken 100 degrees, and my shoulders are burned from long, slogging jogs with Bruno. The cold rains and short daylight hours that colored my Mom’s last days seem like a long time ago, seasonally speaking.

I’m playing harp more than I have in years.  My dear friend Kathy is getting married on Saturday, and I am providing the music during the ceremony. These days, I’m practicing furiously to try to rework rusty pieces and learn a few new ones too.  My sheet music is totally disorganized, and in between the loose papers I have old recital programs, notes from my harp instructors… even an old bus schedule, circa 1999, which would bring me from South Minneapolis to St. Paul, where I studied in college.

Music speaks to the core of all of us, provides a soundtrack to our life.  This is especially so if you are a musician. I work through this repertoire from 10+ years ago, and I feel the heat from the stage lights shining down on me, blinding me to the audience present.  I feel the anguish of my failures– for some reason, those are more vivid in my mind than my successes. When I play these old pieces, I also remember my mom sticking her head into my room when I was practicing. She’d beam an encouraging smile and exclaim “I just love that song!” or “Sounding really good!”  I feel her hugs after my recitals, hear her voice on the end of the line asking “how did it go!?!” when I’d call her after completing my juried performances.

The notes, the rhythms connect me to the past in a palpable way.  I play these songs and again am transported back to an earlier time.  Maybe jr high, high school, or college. A time when I was focused on music, and I had a living, breathing mother.



Today is the first day of Spring. This year has been unseasonably warm in the desert, but yesterday Winter gave one last hurrah. It was if she follows the Gregorian calendar.  The sky ripped open with hail and rain while her icy breath shocked tender spring plants and sent shivers down my spine.

Her grip wasn’t complete, however.  In between the downpours of hail, the sun shone warmly.  A losing battle against the forces that spin our planet, our universe.  I felt in synch with all this drama– the wild extremes are a bit like grief.



Today was still cool, yet sunny and comparatively calm.  I think most of our seedlings survived the onslaught of the elements and will carry on. What appears now in the garden to be tiny and hesitant, pale and subtle, will be in only a few months vibrant and unruly, overgrown and fruitful.

Our planet is now halfway between light and dark.  All in perfect balance for new beginnings, new life.  I find myself propelled to grow, to expand, but this requires some self-examination.  Where do I want to go?  Who do I want to be?

I wish all of you a happy Spring, and fertile ground for whatever you wish to bring forth into the future.

doing “okay”

I’m back at work.  It feels good, returning to my routines and a semblance of a normal life, whatever that is.  People ask me all the time if I’m okay, and I don’t really know how to answer that question, other than to thank them for their concern.  I haven’t figured out what it means to be okay.  I’m getting out of bed.  I’m working a full 8+ hours. I’m eating lots of Christmas cookies, and probably regaining the weight that I lost over the last month.  I’m now sleeping, with the aid of pharmacotherapeutics.  I don’t cry more than two or three times a day. So, yeah, maybe I am doing well. 

I also feel suspended in denial– it hasn’t fully sunk in yet that my mother is dead.  I still think about calling her everyday. I check my phone inadvertently for messages from her; my heart jumped in my chest this evening when I saw a call missed from “Mom, Home” (it was my stepfather phoning me, of course). Maybe if it really sunk in that I’ll never ever recieve a call from her again, I wouldn’t be showing up to work and being productive and “doing okay.”  

*  *  *

Mom’s services will be held on January 6th in Surprise– check out her CaringBridge for more details.  I’m eager to get back to Minnesota, and we will also be doing a service there sometime in the spring.  I feel numb and bewildered, but I do know it will feel good to get back to the place where it all began; the place that was home to me, and to Mom, at the very beginning of life.


egg from our very own hen!


Springtime: the season of resurrection, of rebirth.  Its a beautiful time of year in the desert.  Trees burst forth with delicate green leaves. Cacti bloom. The days are long and warm, but not sweltering.  Our garden is burgeoning, as if the plants sense the 100 degree days right around the corner, and they relish these last few weeks before heat stress kicks in.  I love biking to work, smelling jasmine and orange blossoms, and feeling the yellow sun warm my bare arms.

On April 19th, my husband called out my name as I was leaving for the day.  Our clump of columnar cacti in the front yard, pretty unimpressive for about 350 days a year, had burst forth into huge, foot-wide magenta blooms.  It was a sight that took our breath away.  And the beauty was soon punctuated by joy: a few short hours later, I received a call from my stepfather.  My mother’s insurance approved treatment at MD Anderson, drug study and bone marrow transplant in all.  We are going to Houston, to get my mom the very best care, and best shot at a cure.

The spring equinox, this year on March 20th, is the time when the axis of the earth is balanced, neither towards the sun nor away.  Now, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are leaning a bit towards the sun.  We see life come forth where all seemed lost.  After a cold winter, many of our plants looked dead only a few weeks ago, and are now sending up new shoots of life.

Our holidays aknowlege the miracle of this time of year.  Jews give thanks for blessings from God and feast with hope that the Messiah will come.  The resurrection of Jesus is perhaps the central tenant of Christianity. We decorate Easter eggs, celebrating fertility and the wonder of life that seems to come from nothing.

This year, I am breathing a little bit deeper, smiling a little wider, and enjoying more fully the beautiful flowers, the perfumed air.  I remember the dark days of winter, but embrace the hope for my own mother’s resurrection, and celebrate the minute ways in which we are all reborn, everyday.