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90 Days: Moving. Abandoning plans. Gardening.

Just listened to RadioGarden, Episode 1 hosted by the charming Andrew Keys wherein he shares time with the lovely Lynn Felici-Gallant who is moving – away from her garden.

•  •  •

Without a doubt, 1997 had me by the…

I was quite unsettled. Location: Tucson. 28 on the verge of 29 and everyday was opposite day. Sing with me: “This is not my house. This is not my beautiful wife. How did I get here?”

It was strongly suggested I take 90 days free. Unplug. Abandon ship. 90 days of freedom from the worry and turmoil that were the fungii of my personal life. Just put big decisions on hold. 90 days to let go of the pressures and demands orbiting. I was fortunate to have the luxury to “check out” for a whole 90. I took it, with little choice, at first. 90 days. To. Be. Just. Me.  It would be the first time I set the heavy weight of life and (overly) assumed responsibilities down. My God, I was carrying everything and everyone, but me.

I was a duck in the desert. The “Tucson 90” came shortly after I had uprooted (moved) my life in Oregon (abandoned plans and plants, mind you) to follow – wait for it – love.

Turns out, that *that* love had major root rot upon close examination (for all you plantees out there, associate *that* smell). During the Tucson 90, whilst in mucho emotional & spiritual pain, I ripped my gaze (okay, death stare) off of the crumbling, damn-near-non-existent-hard-for-me-to-accept-its-gone-ain’t-gonna-happen relationship, released control on the lever, leaped in utter faith, and went to work. Unplugged from what I couldn’t fix and physically plugged into what I could control.

I created a garden.

Sure. Why not? I had done so at 25 when my Dad died.

I would take a bare patch of landscape of sizable measure – a in a climate I knew absolutely zip-zero about – and enliven it, invest in it, make manifest the dreams I had for it. Design, irrigate, plant it. Undo and redo parts of it. Nurture, tend and learn from it. Make mistakes, high-center a ditch-which, puncture a main water line. Sweat. A lot.

Love it. Really, really love *it*. The garden was my “transitional object”. I was in recovery. It was my very own horticultural therapy.

•  •  •

Walk with me to a memory, ok? Corner of the Tucson yard, near the back gate. I’m planting a rosemary bush. I am preparing that soil so very well. Making that hole the most perfect hole. Setting that plant so carefully. Welcoming it. Tending. Loving. Giving. Nurturing. I recall thinking how caring for myself allowed me to care for other things and that these experiences are never separate, are mutually inclusive, really – me, care, others. Connected.

•  •  •

And I would find the unexpected in a moment of being coached by a friend on glueing irrigation pipe together: people actually went to school for this sort of design-build garden thing and got degrees and certificates in it. Really? No. Really? Yep, just down the street. Better yet, using the dial-up internet (’cause that’s what it was back then), I found people studying the nature-people connections, even calling spaces – healing gardens.

And at the UofA I would find a grad program in landscape architecture and a professor crazy enough to encourage my interest in “healing landscapes”.  I enrolled that lover-ly year of 1997, after my garden was completed and my 90 days over, and I moved again.

Abandoning, in part, yet another set of plans, figuratively and literally. 90 days were up. I needed to leave. Move from that sanctuary –  my haven.  Release. Turn the creation over to someone else. I know, your asking, “but wait, how could you?”

Let them find healing in the garden, perhaps.

•  •  •

I would say good bye to that Tucson garden, and find another Tucson garden to live out my grad school days. Not. Easy. But I was finished *there*. Letting death be a part of things allowed for the beginning of something else. You know, that moment in late fall, when faced with the decision of whether to cut the echinacea back or not.

Is it dormant enough? Not yet? Maybe so? Any seed left for the birds?

This middle place – the grey area – is not an easy place to hang. You’ve been there, you know those moments when an ending bumps up against a beginning. Yet eventually, the ending ends and beginning really begins. The cycle moves on. Its only natural. Thank goodness.

Only once did I stop by to peek through the fence to see how the Tucson garden was growing. (Dogs barked and I couldn’t really see much. And I was kinda trespassing.) It didn’t matter, and as you can imagine, I realized two things:

There would be other pieces of land in/on which to make special gardens, and that Tucson garden was alive in me and me in it.

•  •  •

A conduit now – the converted – an ambassadress I was – if I might humbly say, for others to find their own natural sanctuary after whatever “move”, transition, change had “uprooted” them; to inspire love and giving and tending and nurturing; to create spaces where people could experience connectedness, the seasons of their lives, cry, contribute, make “good”, be fee and play (even during tough times).  Safe places. Private, green, liberty-producing spaces.

The Tucson 90 brought about possibilities and endings: beauty of the garden living and sadness of relationships dying. Life, rooted. Understanding grew – beginning and ending were forever connected.

My Tucson garden taught me that.

My relationship would end. The garden would be passed to another. And my career practicing a different type of “social work” would begin. The Tucson 90 gave me the chance to make something, heal something(s), and find something to help you.

And so it *is* important that we move. That change comes. That life moves in us and through us. Plan and live on that speck of ground and make good of it for however long you have it. Its only natural, and it feels so good.

Can’t help but wonder of Lynn’s move and of her next garden.

Leave a Comment

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn December 9, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Oh, the idea of sharing notes about our respective moves and new gardens is very inviting. Are you thinking of doing so in blog posts or something more personal? I may be game to do a blog series if you are; give me until the first of the year to think about it, as it could be quite a commitment. Thanks again. L


Lynn December 4, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Oh my, Annie. What a heartfelt and poignant piece. It both brought tears to my eyes and filled me with hope. I will be sure to take your advice, as should we all, and “live on that speck of ground for however long we have it.” Thank you for your beautiful words. Lynn


Annie December 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Lynn, thank you. Your courage to share of your move in/thru/away from your garden (and possibilities for the next!) was inspirational. I look forward to hearing of your next speck of ground – even exchanging notes? (I have my next blank slate of ground laying before me now). Here’s to endings that bump us into beginnings.


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