This past weekend, Joe came to visit on Saturday. Of course, he had his work clothes along, and his plan in place. The big, gangly, bushy something that was growing out of the side of the tree outside my backdoor first got a radical trimming, and then the thoughtful pronouncement - "She's coming out." Yes!! I'd been wanting that bush gone since I moved in in August. She's gone now, and I can now see along the fence line when I open the back door. And there are no more pushy, grabby branches insinuating themselves into my hair and clothing whenever I walk by.
After we dragged the boughs and branches (this was a BIG, tree-like bush-o-something) out of the back yard and dumped them in the pasture over by the springhouse, we turned our attentions to the front garden.
All we could do for now was to weed out the last of last year's dead stuff, and remove the bits of invading grass. There was a ground cover plant - low and close growing, sort of pretty with tiny little rosebud-like leaves, but it traveled everywhere along the ickiest, most intestinal looking creeper imaginable. After some discussion, the pronouncement - "She's coming out." We were, I tell you, merciless. Joe has no fear of pulling out the wrong stuff. His philosophy is simple. If it doesn't look nice, if you didn't put it there, "she's coming out." I, on the other hand, proceed with a neophyte's caution. I've never gardened before, and know nothing about it. But I was enchanted by the flowers out front when I moved into this place last August, and I think this could, if you'll pardon the pun, grow on me. I'm sort of intrigued to see what will come up this year. Errhhmmm ... guess I'll see what survived our weeding.
In another few weeks, I'll put some mulch out. For now, I'm delighted by the early daffodils. When Beckett died, my friends Beth and Debbie sent me a lovely memorial stone made of pieces of colored glass and concrete. It makes no sense at all to me that such a medium could capture so completely the essence of this dog. It's downright eerie. The stone has come with me from Long Valley, to the farm in Port Murray, and now, finally, to this little house in the center of Port Murray. At each house, I've placed it right next to the door. It's the right place for it. I see Beckett in the morning as I leave for work, and every time I come home, there he is, almost able to wag his tail in greeting. I love seeing him. And now, for the first time, it's as if the stone has found the place where it truly belongs. It sits just to the left of the kitchen door nestled in the corner of the garden by the stone wall. It's in the right place. Beckett watches all comings and goings. Beckett is right there.
Right above Beckett's stone sits a gift from the woman from whom I purchased this house - the garden crow. She gave it to me when she learned about The Crow. She said it was one more sign that she was selling this house to the right person. She handed it to me, saying that she hoped this house would be as lucky for me as it had been for her. I've placed it on the stone wall. For me, it's just above eye level, and right now, I look past it to a sea of new daffodils leading toward the front porch.
As Joe and I were dumping brush on Saturday, we each individually spotted the same single purple/blue crocus, blooming its little heart out right in the middle of the woods behind a brush pile. Joe transplanted it right by the corner of the shed. That night, it rained and the poor little thing, newly positioned and slightly shocked, was a bit too fragile for the combination. Both of the blooms were knocked about a bit by Sunday morning. But there are two new buds coming along, and just that splash of color at the corner looks so right.
So now, when I come home, there are three reminders that this is home. One reminds me of Crow, as if the screams of chaotic greeting from the bedroom window as I come up the walk would allow me to forget. Another reminds me of Beckett, who is with me yet, although four years gone this summer. And another reminds me of Joe - just a splash of brilliance and much, much promise.
When I first moved into this house, it felt like a sad compromise, like the best I could do. It reminded me of the loss of my dream, of the farm that was not to be mine, and of all of the pain and shock I'd been through. It felt, in short, like settling for less than I'd had and less than I wanted. Slowly, as the months of autumn passed, something started to shift, and I began to feel not only comfortable, but a sense of pride and promise in this place. The winter was a quiet time which gave me time to sink in and pull this space around me. And now, with the coming spring, I may, finally, be coming home.