Monday, November 13, 2006

Didn't know I still had it in me

The first thing I noticed, returning home was how colorful the trees were. Most of the trees in the mountains have dropped their leaves but we still have a week or so left, where I live, to enjoy the color. I fear my language was as colorful as the leaves once I had a chance to take in the full view on returning home. My daughter, one of my sisters and my ex-husband were privy to my outburst as we had gone to the mountains together and my sister's plane wasn't taking off for several hours. I would like to say that having cancer has given me the perspective I hear people talking about. You know, that perspective where you realize that the small things don't matter and you focus on this new improved life where you relish the important stuff and let the small stuff go. No such luck with me. I do relish the important stuff but I can still be as petty as I ever was if my sentimental nature gets crossed by the unaware. So here's the deal. I have a young man living next door to me on the side where there's a strip of land in between the two driveways. He's a relatively new neighbor, especially considering the fact that the neighbor on the other side of my house has been in her house since 1969 and I've been in my house since 1984. My new neighbor is a nice young man almost young enough to be my child. When he first moved in, I took care of the strip of land in between our driveways because I was used to doing it. The woman who lived in his house before him was elderly and I tried to do little things for her. The property doesn't have clear borders and is awkward because most of the top part is my property and most of the bottom part is his. There isn't a straight line and the border isn't clear. At the top of the driveway I had two little garden areas, although at this point it's a stretch to call them gardens. The rocks, granite, sea shells, and marble that circled them were mostly covered by the "emerald carpet" I had planted years ago, and there were lots of weeds and grasses mixed in with the purple cone flower and other plants within the border. As I neglected the garden area more and more, my neighbor started doing the rounds on his riding lawnmower. I did mention that there were rocks and such that might hurt his mower as I knew he was riding over my garden parts only steering cleer of a volunteer sour gum tree and the purple cone flower. He said it wasn't a problem and didn't get the hint that I didn't want him up there. I didn't press the matter as there were enough flowers to continue to attract the goldfinches, butterflies and humming birds that I watched from my kitchen window. It also made it easier for me since I didn't have to pull weeds or do my rounds with my old hand mower. However, I wasn't prepared to return home and see that he had not only removed the trellis between us but he had also removed all my rocks, marble, granite, and sea shells. The trellis was a mess and I was happy to see it pulled up. He had asked me about that since it was on my side of the property line. I said sure, pull it up, it's warped and I let a neighbor put it up on my side a long time ago when they were trying to close off the fences in the back for their dog. What I didn't realize was that when he pulled up the trellis and the clemantis, jasmine etc. on his side (that was sad that he trashed beautiful vines but that was none of my business as they were on his side) that he would also pull up my rocks, etc. and mow down most of my flowers before they had time to set all their seeds for the spring. He was still outside demolishing everything in site with that slash and burn style of maintenance when I returned. When I told him I wanted my rocks etc. for my butterfly and songbird garden back, he said he could put them in my driveway. I said, no, put them back where you found them, PLEASE! When I woke up the next morning and saw that he hadn't tackled that project yet, I did get a little perspective. I realized most of the bits and pieces of a border I had lovingly laid were at the bottom of trash cans filled with debris. Here is the good news. I found physical strength I didn't know I still had. I dragged stepping stones and rocks from my back garden, in areas where the butterfly flowers were taking over the paths, and created a new garden area in what used to be two. That way there is no need to mow in between the two. I can fill in by planting new wildflowers in the spring and I'll still be able to watch the birds and butterflies from my kitchen window. The second picture was taken last night after I finished setting up my new garden area and discovered I'm not as weak as I thought I was. That's the most physical activity I've done in years and out of a major annoyance came a feeling of victory over my compromised body. I didn't know I still had it in me to create a garden out of a mess. Depending on work today, I may even tackle the leaves, moving them to places where they are needed for mulch. Good thing I love leaves as I sure have a lot of them.

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