A few days ago I got a call from our yard maintenance guy. He is an older fellow, maybe 70 and he has injured his knee. He decided he will no longer be able to engage in his retirement “hobby” of yard maintenance for extra money. I am so sad. I’m sad he injured himself, but I am also terribly sad we have lost such a stellar yard guy. We live on a hillside and our property is somewhat difficult to maintain. We have a decent size lot and so many steps and if someone has an injured knee, I can totally see why our yard would not be a good place to spend your time. The yard guy actually hasn’t been here for a couple weeks as he was off fishing with buddies. Weeds were popping up everywhere, my pots were still littered with dying winter pansies and shabby volunteers holding on from last year’s summer annuals. We also have a long flower bed out front where we plant winter pansies and then for summer I fill it with beautiful colorful warm weather blooms like sunflowers, geraniums and zinnia. The pansies were at that point where the beautiful and delicate little blooms were desperately hanging on to spindly yellowing stems and mostly dying leaves. It’s sad because the blooms are still so lovely, but the whole thing together looks a bit neglected. This past year I have been having the yard guy update the pots and beds as in oh so many ways, I have not felt up to the task. Once I got the call regarding his injury, however, I knew there was no way we would be able to have a new yard person here in time to take care of the messy pots. When I was growing up, both my grandmothers had beautiful welcoming flower beds in front of their modest homes. My grandma on my mom’s side had a traditional white picket fence with roses growing along it with a pretty archway and a climber that seemed to always be in bloom. Nana on my dad’s side lived in a coastal town and her entire front bed was filled with colorful ice plants and the side of the house facing the street was dotted with gorgeous hanging baskets of fuchsia. Boy did I adore my grandmas. I knew that when I had my own house, I would want a flower bed out front that was always beautiful and welcoming.
After the yard guy called, I decided it was time for me to rectify the situation myself. I went to two different nurseries to purchase all the annuals I wanted to adorn my pots and beds. The first phase of our recent yard re-do included the front, which is mostly taken up with a terraced rock wall, fig trees, a pink dogwood, and a purple tulip magnolia on the top tier, low growing shrubs of varying greens on the hillside, a Japanese area on the next landing including a gorgeous low growing, rock wall hugging lace leaf maple, a pagoda surrounded by ground cover and grasses and the lower tier including a flowering winter hardy jasmine, a bubbling fountain and beautiful hot pink hydrangea. The other side of the brick walkway includes a large red leaf maple and succulents growing amongst the rock wall. We also added some beautiful lighting. I never realized how much a few up lights and path lights could add to a landscape. Unfortunately, weeds had started to move in everywhere. Blue Eyes offered to help me with the yard work and we went out together to tackle the job of weeding and planting beds and pots.
I really wanted to get rid of those weeds first and so we tackled the hillside. One of the reasons we had decided to re-do the front yard first is that I lost my favorite tree in the yard, a gorgeous Japanese maple, to a soil disease. They planted a new tree there, but I feel it will never be the same. I had planted that little Japanese Maple from a twig 16 years ago. One large limb of the tree died off in 2013, and we had it removed last year and in it’s place was a big gaping hole. The maple grew to a perfect size for our front yard, about 15 feet tall in a beautiful canopy shape extending over the brick patio and produced THE most amazing fall colors. I have lots of pictures, but I don’t even want to post one it makes me so sad. Somehow I find the timing of the planting of and loss of that tree to be incredibly ironic and symbolic and painful. I planted that tree the year Blue Eyes began his extramarital acting out. Of course I had no idea about his secret life. I lost that tree a few months after dday. When they were removing the tree, I watched and as they cut it down, limb by limb, I felt like my insides were being ripped out. Hanging in that tree was a ceramic bird house in the shape of a large yellow gourd. It hung by a copper wire and before they started removing the tree, I gently removed the bird house and saved it to the side to hang in the new tree that would be planted there. The new tree does not have the same shape as the old tree. We were unable to plant another maple there for fear of the same soil disease. I cannot remember what type the new tree is, I’m sure it will be beautiful, but the birdhouse somehow does not fit with it.
Weeding the hillside was back breaking business, climbing in and around and under our beautiful fig trees to reach all the weeds. I decided I wanted to hang that gourd bird house in one of the fig trees. That way, I would be able to see it from our bedroom window. I was starting to get cranky and my back was aching and I asked Blue Eyes to fetch the bird house from the bench down by the front door. A distraction to the otherwise grueling work. A couple minutes later, Blue Eyes stood down on the brick steps below me and said, “here you go” and threw the ceramic birdhouse up onto the hillside out of my reach about four feet to my right. The bird house quickly rolled right off the hillside, down to the brick patio below and broke into a dozen pieces. As I straddled the hill, my feet slipping on the mulch, I froze. Then a wave of sadness came over me and I sat down on the earth and burst into tears. I buried my face in my hands and sobbed. Somehow outside of myself I could feel the sun beating down on me, I could hear the birds chirping and the distant sounds of a neighbor pruning a hedge with a gas powered trimmer, but I couldn’t stop the sobbing. Blue Eyes has broken many material possessions during the 30+ years I have known him (it is no coincidence the clandestine email he set up for his infamous Craig’s List ad 10 years ago was ‘clumsynerd’). Blue Eyes has broken one of a kind pottery bowls I purchased while on vacation in the wine country of California. He has broken hand blown glass goblets we purchased on another trip together. At one point, he bumped into the glass living room coffee table and on it was my favorite wedding present, a hand blown glass tea pot in a mosaic style. It was not functional, just a beautiful one of a kind piece of art from a gallery in Del Mar, California purchased for us by friends of his parents. These are all accidents of course and material things are less important than human feelings. As Blue Eyes embraced me, I sat there and thought about whether I had ever broken anything that belonged to Blue Eyes, or broken anything that he truly cherished. I couldn’t think of a thing. As I continued to sob, I realized I did not care about that bird house and Blue Eyes knew it. What I was really grieving over was our broken relationship. The vows he made on our wedding day that he has now broken. The promises he made to me as a person he intended to spend the rest of his life with, all broken. As the tears rolled down my face and into my hands, I knew I was not sad about the broken ceramic bird house at all. I was indescribably sad about the fact that he has broken my heart. He has broken my heart over and over again.
It’s amazing how someone can break your heart, but you still love them with all the little pieces.