Mourning a Garden
by Julie Carpenter
I wrote this piece after leaving my little farmhouse in Fayetteville, TN. I spent a brief time living in a condo and missing my garden terribly. I now have a new garden and new thoughts but I thought I'd go back to this moment for a minute and reflect on losing a part of myself and moving on.
My garden now consists of a table full of house plants I saved from the little farm in Fayetteville, TN. By way of confession, I actually bought a few more plants, a pot of primroses and a tiny orchid, regardless that there is no more room for them in this little place. Soon we’ll be forced to wear potted plants as hats. Crow has already attempted to use one as a litter box.
Here’s the thing, when I grew a garden, in every house that I’ve ever lived in, I thought I was shaping it. It turns out, it was shaping me. Now I’m gardenless. I have no context. Before, I might start the morning clipping and speaking firmly with a monstrous Cecile Brunner rose, the one that spent all its time trying to work its way through the front window. I might then gently encourage the struggling rosemary, and apologize to the tea plant because its neighbor, the giant sage, has been sticking a finger in its eye for a week. I might follow up by asking the sacred chickens what they think of the world, all before coffee.
And it’s not just that I don’t have tasks anymore. This sounds weird, but the plants loved me back. The smell of mint crushed under my fingers, the silky feel of rose petals, the cluck, cluck, cluck of contented chickens were all little gifts to me. As though my surroundings reciprocated my dizzy passion.
Now I find myself in a condo with a few plants and a couple of cats. No more getting up to see the sunrise when the dog wakes me up at dawn. No more wandering through the pasture at golden hour until the bats herald twilight. And I notice something. It’s not just the wicked rose or the dearly departed chickens I miss. It’s some part of me. There’s a person I was in that context who seems to be missing. The pine trees outside the condo windows, the ones that protect us from the traffic sounds don’t need me at all. They have a job to do. They're doing it. They're totally self-sufficient. Maybe they would still talk to me, but I’m not sure that I want to be the crazy lady in the upstairs apartment that talks to the trees. Yet.
I suppose there’s something exciting about casting off parts of yourself. Maybe I always thought that moving on, letting things go, means you’re seeing who you really are. Now I’m not so sure about that. Maybe moving on means leaving pieces of yourself behind.
Anyway, for now, the cats, and plants and I are adrift in a little condo, hopefully to be washed up in a new garden soon, but I’ll never forget the old one. And I’ll probably never be exactly who I was in it again.
Julie Carpenter is the creator of the Sacred Chickens website, and author of a book of short stories titled, Things Get Weird in Whistlestop. She is dedicated to telling stories and making sure that indie writers and publishers have a way to be heard. She uses narrative, her own and others’, to help interpret the world. She has a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Memphis, with an emphasis in Composition Theory. She wants to bend reality one story at a time. Julie’s work has appeared in Fiction on the Web and will be included The New Guard. She is currently working on a novel titled, The Last Train Out of Hell.