It really was a secret garden, all grown over with weeds with a cracked cement ring in the middle where there used to be a fountain. It was surrounded by a tall hedge with an opening in one corner that you had to duck down to get through.
My next-door neighbor and best friend Colleen and I spent the morning trying to clean it up.
There was a cement path leading to the backyard which had an old grape arbor and giant pear tree, separating it from Colleen’s house, the oldest house on the block.
She had never seen flowers in the garden, I have no idea if her parents had either. I always had the feeling that her grandparents had once lived there. Italian Immigrants who made wine from the grapes and stewed the pears.
I know that we had marvelous plans for the garden, it was a magical place waiting to be reborn, but I don’t know how we thought it would happen. Neither of us knew anything about planting a garden or had any money to buy flowers or seeds. I’m sure we didn’t think that far ahead.
I do remember Colleen’s mother calling her in for lunch.
That was enough to break the spell.
When we got back from lunch, Colleen told me that her mother didn’t want us “playing” in the garden. We were both disappointed, but also tired and discouraged at how little we had gotten done.
I think we would have given up on the garden even if we had been allowed to keep working in it.
That day taught me something about myself.
It showed me how I could be so engaged in something I was doing, even if it was physically demanding. How I could keep doing it, obsessively (althought I didn’t know that word then) but once I stopped and took a break, I became aware of my fatigue. The obsession severed, I’d lose interest.
That’s not exactly what happened to me today as I worked in the yard in the hot sun. But when I came into the house unaware that I was thirsty, hungry, and tired, I soon realized I was all three of those things.
And once again, as I have so many times before, I thought of Collen’s garden. The difference is, I haven’t lost interest in the work I was doing in my gardens, I just lost the energy to do it.
And, of course, these are my gardens and no one can tell me not to “play” in them.