Two of my favorite films of all times are Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Growing up, there was not a time when this aired on television I didn’t clear my “agenda” and make sure that I was available to watch this commercial-interrupted version year after year. I couldn’t get enough of it. As I became a teenager and a singer and actress in my own right, I sometimes wondered, pre-k.d. lang and Patsy Cline, if somehow I weren’t somehow linked with her. I had her song book, knew her life, watched her films. I so wanted to be Judy Garland. A career spanning stage, screen and cabaret, what not to want to be? Yes, there were addictions and temperaments but to me small price to pay.
Growing up in the overlapping hoods of The Jacksons and Stevie Wonder, living in a neighborhood of a melange of early 70s music, I hotly anticipated Q’s remake of my classic. When it came out, I was sold. Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsy Russel just to skim the surface on a visually and musically funkalicious score. I was hooked. Don’t care about anyone else’s opinion. If this is my guilty pleasure, believe me, there are worse.
And then there was Home. Shortly after buying the two album set, I had the words, timing,emotive part down. I could do this cold. Performed it live at a gig in 1982. I have sung this tune naked, drunk, painting a shed (none of these public venues). It’s my go-to tune. Like mac and cheese or a really good pinot. Home food. Pun intended.
For me it turned the corner on Somewhere Over the Rainbow (also in my repertoire), and added an urban need to knowing what your life was/is. Diana killed it. Already a Diana fan from The Supremes days, this was icing. A really well executed butter cream type.
And then life hit. I left music, became suburban, stopped singing. Spent too many years trying to anticipate the demands of the man. After life hit, it left. I had forgotten about Home.
It’s been just over four years since life slammed into my psyche like a derailed express train. I searched for home. There were so many days I just wanted to run somewhere, anywhere. I looked at real estate in France, Italy, northern California. I have lost count of the times I drove around town talking myself out of missing the turn off or even hitting the bridge abutment. Sometimes a really active argument. I even fantasized about swinging by the house, picking up the fuzzy faces and heading out of town, no looking back. Couldn’t leave them but surely did not want to stay.
I wanted to exfoliate this life by any means necessary. It itched. I was raw with it.
You see, I felt I had a home with my life partner. It didn’t matter the zip code. He was home. Where he was, was home. It sounds so biblical, but for me it was. And home had evaporated; not sure it ever really was, except in the zip code of my mind.
For several years, I have searched. The areas have changed, sometimes closer to family, sometime closer to here. Consuming the real estate listings like an addict. Looked at a couple of real possibles. The one that got away still haunts, a beautiful 1930s bungalow on 13 acres outside of Danville Kentucky. Again, that whole 1930s thing. I still look for it in the Danville listings. When I encountered it, I was still far too wounded to decide. And it slipped away.
For four years I have tried to execute the projects I knew would make my house salable. Painting, flooring, remodeling, lighting. I let the garden go until 2013. By that time, becoming a sad neglected jungle in places. The house consumed me. I needed to get it off my skin. I needed a place of my own, I needed. I needed. I needed. I needed peace, contentment. I needed.
Last gardening year, was a time of clean up. I knew no one would want this place with overgrown beds full of self seeders and self pegging roses. So most of the summer was spent trying to reclaim, trying to simplify and streamline. Suburbanners don’t want high maintenance landscapes. If my house were to sell, I had to make it simple.
As I cleaned up, I started connecting, talking to my plant partners. This may be even crazier than liking The Wiz, but I fully believe plants are sensitive to us, they hear our voices, know our presence. I touch as often as I can, talk, encourage. There have been studies recently that indicate plants hear. It mattered to me to know who had made it through the years of neglect, who had met their demise. Who was flourishing. My 120+ year old rose bush was transplanted. My zone 7 crepe myrtle, a miniature I cloche every year, had survived. And so many others had put their cockney thumbs to the sides of their noses and were thriving.
The 2014 garden year was about accenting what was already here, with as minimal a cost as possible. So many plants had not been divided in several years, a means of killing two birds with one stone. Build up beds with plant materials already on the farm. The repetitious use of plants is how a cohesive planting scheme is achieved, as well as minimizing costs. I have spent the spring and early summer dividing and tucking, moving plants hither and thither. Fleshing out areas that needed, well, you know, fleshing out. Nothing crazy.
Interestingly enough, the midwest has been blessed with what I will term as “California weather”. Not too hot, not too cold, plenty of precipitation. Clear skies with low humidity. Ideal for transplanting. The skies this summer actually remind me of time spent in Montana with crystalline blue skies, no humidity and just a touch of coolness. Beautiful. If this is global warming, where do I sign up? The beds this year are lush and diverse. My zone 7 crepe myrtle, as tiny as it is, is the biggest it’s ever been. My 120 year old rose surviving its transplant is on its way to climbing the arbor. The grass is lush and verdant. The farm is full of birds and insects. The air is sweet and caressing.
There are still projects. The basement remodel, a problematic little so and so, is on its way to being finished. There are a couple of smaller items on the wish list. I need a new roof, a new air conditioner, a new driveway. Cheap.
This afternoon, I took some time off from doing. The yard was mowed, the basement ready for the next onslaught of contractors. Surrounded by fuzzy faces, farm cat Fletcher, Joy and Dante, I carved out some sweet moments on the deck to read. I listened to the wrens and the robins. Watched the crows. Heard the music of the wind soughing through the branches of the oak and the locust and the linden. The air was unbelievable, almost too cool for normal summer gear. I was digging it. Fletcher curled around my feet, Joy and Dante flanked my chair. No sounds of mechanization anywhere.
The sound of Home, right here in my own back yard. No heel clicking necessary. When I think of Home, I think of love overflowing. Welcome Home.
So, in the end, we are all trying to get back to Eden. You are closer to it than many of us. There is something profoundly spiritual in your relationship with your garden, more proof than parable of our place in Creation. Thanks for sharing your journey.