One of the people I will miss the most is Norma.
I can hardly believe she’s gone. We had coffee and a visit about three months ago, and she told me that doctors had just given her “a couple of months”. Norma seemed pensive and was particularly worried about one of her grown children, but because she seemed so well, I did not want to believe the prognosis.
Twenty-six years ago, after I had crash-landed at the home of a family friend, Norma and June came over to welcome me “to the neighbourhood”. At a time when some others were judging me harshly because of my actions and choices, their visit was like a warm hug. True friends like that are precious, no matter how often you are able to chat and catch up.
I’ve been busy and motivated, digging in the perennial beds. It’s daunting, but I’ve kept at it. While I weed, pulling miles of quack grass roots out of clay, dump refuse over the bank, and transplant what I want to keep, I try to remember what YEAR I last went through these gardens. It hasn’t been all that long: why can’t things just stay the same for awhile, like 10 years? I’m being facetious. Sort of.
My “demolition man” has mostly been busy at his farrier work, so I’m in charge of the deep digging, double digging, and the fine-tuning. I have been searching while I work for remnants of plants I once thought lovely and paid money for. I find plants that are not invasive grass, campanula (harebell), perennial geranium, thistle, horseradish, or nettle, and move them to an area that has been cleared. In some places, I’ve practically sifted the soil. I pull weeds and feel sick when I hear or feel the roots break off, knowing the weed will reappear soon.
In many spots, the soil is saturated and/or is heavy clay. My hands are achy from digging and pulling while sitting right on the ground, which is actually easier than constantly bending over and standing up. I try not to think too much about my progress, or the task would seem too onerous.
The net result is pretty nice. I have been bringing wheelbarrow loads of bark mulch to replace soil that goes out with clumps of weeds. We have a pile of wet wood chips that is dark like soil. It looks attractive and surely the weeds which reappear will be rooted more shallowly.
When I was talking “landscaping” with a friend a few weeks ago, I said that I was resigned to this being the best method for me, that the only way I can gain even the illusion of control in the flower beds was to move things around, while digging thoroughly. It’s true that this “sets back” all plants; most resent being transplanted in summer.
I could tell that my friend had simply never let things get quite so out of control that this was necessary. She looked puzzled. We went on to speak of other things.
The Pet Hostel is having a fairly busy week, and we have old pet friends and new friends boarding. I haven’t got photos of each guest tonight. There are Rae’s dogs and Rose’s, Trooper, Ramone, Holly, Eirwen, Scarlet. Kesha, Woezel and Bob, and more expected tomorrow and for the weekend.
I love you for reading this blog. But now, the hot tub is calling my name.