In May of 1993, I moved into my home in Brookside. At the time, it had a screen porch. I filled shelves with potted plants and watched the flowers bloom all summer. In the fall, I hauled the containers indoors, pinched their dead flowers, and started feeding them.
By the next spring, two or three had survived. I gathered the stragglers, and the pots of dry earth with wilted sticks of dead coleus, impatiens, and begonias. I took the whole lot back outside. I swept the porch, hosed down the screens, and took my son to Soil Service for our Memorial Day gardening event. On the way home, we detoured to buy a new flag to hang on the house.
I’ve followed this ritual every year since then. The old porch has been replaced by one with a beautiful facade and open archways. A deck sprouted beyond it one year, giving me more room for planting. A few years ago, as spring started to arrive earlier and earlier, my annual porch-plant-potting accelerated; first to Mother’s Day weekend, then to Easter.
Yesterday, I found myself at sixes-and-sevenses, grumpy and vague, wanting something to break loose and free me from the gloom which seems to be clinging to me for too long. I drove to Soil Service and browsed among the annuals, filling a small cart with herbs, and daisies, and a few white begonias in round plastic containers.
I spent a cheerful hour with my rough red hands plunged in rich, dark potting soil. My back protested but I kept going until all the little plants stood on tables and shelves around me. Then I sat, wrapped myself in a shawl, and closed my eyes. The wind whipped around me. The dappled sunlight filtered through the trees and barely warmed my face but still, it felt good.
I don’t know what next year will bring. Perhaps I will linger here. Perhaps I will find somewhere else to rest my bones, or another porch on which to rock as the sun sets. This house has too many rooms for me, and too many ghosts. But wherever I am — here, there, or somewhere else entirely — I feel certain that I will celebrate the new season in the same way: surrounded by flowers; comforted by gentle sunlight, light breezes, and the hope of unbroken circles.
It’s the tenth day of the fortieth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.