Time. Its been a topic for the last nine months. And more often than not it is others who bring it to our attention upon taking notice of my growing belly. And let’s just say the energy of the conversation is immediately cast in a melancholy light. You can kind of taste the deprivation in the air. Maybe it’s just one of those social norms that our culture has inherited, mentioning immediately the scarcity of time, sleep, spontaneity – what have you- that becoming a parent imparts. And I believe the fatigue that I encounter in the conversations is no doubt real. Don’t get me wrong.
But, it is kind of downer when in your pregnant glory (and at times gloom) it’s the first thing a person says to you.
But back to time. My relationship to it has already begun to change (which I think is really the heart of the matter behind the aforementioned comments). And because of the impending DRASTIC but also anticipated change in our lives I have been taken to doing things that might not be as “easy” to do once our new little yummy addition arrived. This has included (to name just a few rituals):
1. the very female pastime of getting pedicures of which my feet are quite a challenge. The years of gardening in flip-flops is evident. And disgusting. Nail technician, I am sorry. It’s me. Not you.
2. post-pedicure, going next door to Fresh Flours for the best almond croissant ever. And their lattes are just as good.
3. and going on weekend getaways to our dear friends’ cabin and taking an outdoor bath.
Water and gardens go hand in hand, kind of like milk and cookies don’t you think? Or, to extend the metaphor – like newborns and newparents’ lack of sleep?
The closest thing to a water feature in our own garden is our hose. Which, don’t get me wrong, does fulfill its destiny on these “hot” summer days in Seattle. Every evening I water not only the garden (irrigation is on our list for next years’ budget) but myself. The slip n’ slide is not recommended for thee with child I hear.
There are of course more sophisticated water features out there if your garden hose isn’t fittin’ the bill – apartment therapy did a great little series on best outdoor showers and outdoor fountains which offers some cool resources for you to consider. Water in the garden can be functional (in the case of the former) or a focal (the latter). But can also be both – uh-hem, ENTER OUTDOOR BATHTUB.
Which is my kind of water feature. Not only because they are just so darn romantic but they encourage participation. Taking a bath embodies the art of slow, with time being the essential ingredient necessary to making you and your relationships nutritious. And smelling good might I add. With or without child you still gotta cleanse. Why not just do it outside and in such a manner that allows your whole body to rest?
Not to say it isn’t a difficult decision. Watch True Blood or slowly soap up? Double-bind for sure.
Which takes me back to time. And choosing how to spend it. And also grieving the loss of it or accepting one’s new relationship to it as one gains a new member into the family fold.
All the more reason to take the time to cherish what is and what is to come. Even if it is with ambivalence.
Pink and red. Never shall these two colors meet. Valentine’s Day of course being an exception. And my garden. And although I am one who encourages others to “plant what you love” I think my love of pink and red has actually proven to be a design pickle. The sensation for passerbyers (and sadly – me) being kind of like staring directly into the sun, in spite of your mother’s warning not to. You look anyway. It hurts. You look away. And then you see spots for a good minute or so. Not fun.
Gardens I think should be gentle on the eyes. This doesn’t mean not playful, rigid, or unimaginative. Gardens, should entice and invite, hence my love of the cottage garden in its little pockets of production (edibles) and expansive palette of flowering perennials and the occasional annual. But cottage garden does not equal chaos. Gardens – contemporary, formal, cottage, you name it – DO require intentionality and planning. Love, I am learning is not the only thing that makes a garden grow.
And come on. Being told NO only makes you want to DO it. And this impulse we don’t necessarily outgrow as toddlers and teenagers. My pink and red plant enthusiasm a case in point. However, I do not endorse blind submission to any particular school of thought when it comes to garden design (or fill in the blank). I think we need space to experiment, to think outside of the box, but most especially learn from our mistakes. And this may mean at times not listening to or rejecting the “no” that is meant to protect us. We look directly into the sun anyway.
Or insist on planting that gorgeous hosta in full sun because you want to although the plant tag in its wisdom says quite the contrary but does so so you can succeed for goodness sakes.
Or your garden begins to look like a St. Valentine’s Day jungle. But then you learn. So you get to work and keep your ears open a little more next time and begin to dig out all of the pink. Or all of the red. And create something new.
Our local public radio station just aired a show entitled “The Sounds of Summer” whereby listeners were encouraged to send in their own recordings of what summer sounds like “to them.” Isn’t that neat? The question taps into the personal as well as the power of memory and the gift it can bear in the present. I didn’t get a chance to listen to the whole program and we know there is a solution to that thanks to podcasts. But it did get me thinking. How would I answer that question? (#1: Splashing water and the sounds of kids screaming with delight. Cliche, I know. #2: And as of late hearing, “When are you due?” I am just weeks away now to meeting our little boy IF he decides to follow MY calendar). But then I wanted to change the question to suit my own selfish purposes. Like for this blog entry so I could make up for lost time and post images of what summer so far for me has looked like.
To talk about what summer sounds like or looks like is an invitation to share one’s personal experience. What catches my attention may not be what catches yours. I love that. To experience life from another’s vantage, I think, not only helps us change and grow but I think at its deepest level fosters compassion (com-passion: “to feel with” or “with feeling”) and its companion (com-panion: “with bread”), empathy. I love that too. But not to say that it’s easy. But then again, we are just talking about summer. Which does for many of us, gift us with ease, cherished sounds, and time to play.
What does summer look like through your eyes?