Letter to Julia

I bought the house, your home, not long ago.  I viewed it with a critical eye.  Well built, with renovations I planned to make it contemporary.  I am familiar with the trends of the real estate market.  My plan was to get off at the next high.  I made a list as I walked around the property for the first time.  Was that an ornamental fruit tree?  Useless!  It had to go.  That straggly tall bush was tagged for mulching, so also the trees with a footpath that led to nowhere.  In its place would be a garden with formal lines.  French Provincial was the template, to reflect the plan indoors.  Box hedges would divide spaces neatly.  Topiary plants would stand tall in stone pots like sentinels.  A wooden deck, outdoor kitchen and swimming pool would replace the area where unwanted foliage once grew.  The list completed, I stamped the plans “Mine”!

Before the ink dried, the ornamental tree glowed with exquisite lanterns and soon rained mulberries on the cherubs.  The green trees turned white and laid down a carpet of jasmine.  The straggly tall bush, the Crepe Myrtle, morphed into a Vegas showgirl with plumes of bright pink.  A star!  Her appearance on centre stage is brief.  The roses, after their climb, sagged with delight.  The blue plumbago behind the shed bloomed incessantly, saying seasons be damned!  The honeysuckle vine crept along the perimeter protectively and one day, while in its perfumed embrace, the afternoon sea breeze whispered, “Yes, all yours” and I was humbled.

Single and an empty nester, you sold it.  Single and an empty nester, I bought it.  Your house is slowly becoming my home.  I am yet to unpack, so the rooms are still empty of furniture but overflow with potential.  There are rooms earmarked with hope, creativity, largesse, hospitality, laughter and, dare I say, one with an impossible dream.  The study is over crowded and where reality takes up most space.  It is also a room that gives me a beautiful glimpse of your vision.  It overlooks the roses.

I no longer want a formal garden with lines drawn with clinical precision.  I want one that reflects life … joyful, unpredictable, adaptable, forgiving of trial and error.  I want asymmetry.  I want incongruity.  I think I am achieving this.  It is now my ragtag garden where a Cape Gooseberry bush grows wild.  A few statues delight the eye.  I found the statue in Kalgoorlie.  She is ‘Waiting for Jasmine’.  The chilled cherubs give me pause to stop and reflect.  The path to nowhere is now well worn.  Autumn is colourful.  Spring appears in the air first.

I am getting to know the garden you left behind through the seasons.  Each time I return from my trips, I walk around and look for a surprise.  I am never disappointed.

It is Earth Day today.  It is only fitting I acknowledge your spirit in my garden.  I am a realistic.  I cannot save the planet.  But, I have realised by nurturing your vision, I am contributing in a small way.  The garden has become my sanctuary, shared with the rainbow lorikeets and other garden visitors.

The garden you planted brings joy to my friends across the world too.  It is no longer your place, nor mine.  It is communal.  It is ours.  It reflects the message of today.  This is Earth, Our Planet.

My son has a favourite tee shirt with a slogan that says, ‘Look after the planet.  It’s where I keep all my stuff’.  The garden you have left behind is where I leave mine.  I now travel lighter.

Through your vision, you left behind the unsolicited gifts of anticipation and optimism.  It came from your gardener heart.  They now nestle in mine.

As always,

a dawn bird






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