In my garden this spring morning, I meet the pruning expert from the nursery. We walk around in the steady rain. He’s going to trim back some of the large shrubs that squeeze others and remove a skinny maple that crowds a specimen beech. His enthusiasm bubbles up and my step lightens while we discuss what he proposes. I love making plans and being in charge of this breathtakingly beautiful space.
The garden is thirsty and sucks up the much needed downpour. A few minutes later, it turns to drizzle. Tiny weeds will be triple the size tomorrow when it is expected to be warmer. I’ll be relieved not to have to soak the new rhododendrons and azaleas that were planted a few weeks ago. Every other day I traipsed through the woods, taking care not to step in a leaf covered low spot, so I could arrange the oscillating sprinkler. I managed to soak myself every time. For all the years my ex-husband created beauty in the garden, he considered it his. Every spring, he invited me to admire the earliest spring flowers with him and appreciate what was in bloom. I followed behind, walking carefully, so I wouldn’t tread on any rare or special plants. If my foot stepped on one, he’d bark at me. That verbal slap spoiled the experience, and as a result, I had little interest in the flowers and foliage that surrounded the house.
Now, after ten years of having him gone, the garden is mine. The first five years, I felt as if I was barely keeping up with maintaining what was there. A college student, who became a family friend, weeded while he was home for the summer. Then he graduated and moved away, leaving me in charge of its care.
Just this year, I see the garden as a whole and not merely sections that need attention. My life in this beautiful space is more than pruning, weeding, and maintaining. I’ve planted all the hosta seeds from the dried stalks I collected last fall. With today’s rain and warmer weather coming tomorrow, there’s a good chance that many will germinate.
And now my ex-husband has been out of prison for a year. He’s bought a house in Litchfield County and wants to take what plants he desires from my garden. I’ve said, No. It’s not that there aren’t enough flowers. The garden is massive and there’s plenty to share. The reason is I don’t want him here. He has never been able to understand laws, rules, and requests that might control his actions. He wants what he wants, whether plants, photos or handing out candy to his students, even when told not to by his principal.
I fear I wouldn’t be able to control him once he entered the garden. He wouldn’t leave if I told him to. He’s stated that he regards the plants as his property, even though they’re on my land and therefore legally mine. Such fine points he considers irrelevant. Unable to understand this fact, he’s sent me a summons, demanding the maximum amount possible in Small Claims Court, as well as a long list of flowers.
I tell myself not to get angry or upset. I’ll respond by sending in my official Answer, as required by the summons, and proceed with what the court says. It’s a new experience. After all, I spent two years under threat of arrest as well as having my house seized by the Federal Government, due to my ex-husband’s actions, and I survived. This should be a walk in the park compared with those years.
It’s life. It’s another experience. I could give in and say, “Sure, come on by and dig up whatever you like.” But I’m done being bullied. I have my limits.
Meanwhile, I smile and with a light footstep, meander through my garden. My eyes appreciate the swaths of pink, red, orange and white of mature azaleas as well as those just planted. I listen to the sound of the birds overhead and feel the light breeze on my face. The garden is a place of perfection, where fears and troubles are blocked and cannot enter. I’m now surrounded by goodness and peace.
That’s very powerful, Jane. Well done – both the writing and your new attitude!
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