Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sweet Abraham

Some stories are hard to tell. They don't roll from the tongue or flow from the pen but lie tangled like twine with no clear beginning. This is such a story.

***

I stand in the kitchen, silent. Groceries clutter the counter and toys litter the floor. The children shout as he walks in, rushing towards him, lost in his long arms. He is home for seven days before leaving again for seven more. Home and away are our only constants and we lose track of time lost. Three months, six months. It all becomes the same.

He pulls me away from the stove, understanding my silence. "How was work?" he asks. "Crap". It is my only response. I lay my head against his chest, exhausted.

I can see them through the window as I dig. The boy parades in his flight jacket and the girl shows him how to dress her dolls. I thrust the shovel deeper, sandy soil crashing to the bottom like waves. I haul it to the top just to watch it slide back in.

Swiss cheese holes like craters fill the newest bed but the digging doesn't stop. The back door creaks open as the porch light flickers on. "Hey, it's dark" he yells before retreating into the house only to pop out like a prairie dog moments later. "Maybe if you had a mining helmet, this would be easier." I ignore him but start to smile. The door creaks open again and he continues his comedic assault. "The county called. They said you hit water and need to stop."

The gardens are all the same, regardless of address. There is no plan, just a need. Long beds circle the grass before curving back towards the house, a comforting embrace as perpetual as my singleness. I toss the shovel into the hole and sit in the grass. Fuzzy lamb's ears soft under my fingers slow down my breathing and I begin to relax. I leave the shovel in the hole. I'll be back in seven days.


To cope with the stress of being an almost single parent while working at a school I didn't like, grieving my fathers death and adjusting to another new town, I would create new garden beds and then fill them with holes. After finding a new teaching position, I began filling the holes with perennials and roses. I filled the biggest hole with the David Austin rose, Abraham D'Arby, a rose that also grows in my current garden.

28 comments:

  1. So beautiful friend...the gardens are all the same struck such a chord with me as did your entire piece. I can feel the raw emotion in your writing and the release you felt when digging in your garden. Your rose is beyond gorgeous! You have such an amazing way of connecting life to the garden.....all the best this week! Nicole

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  2. Connecting with your past through your garden has to be among the healthiest of therapies. Best wishes in carrying the lessons of those days into your future.

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  3. I'm kind of breathless here Tammy. I want to know more about this story. Maybe someday you will feel like filling in some more details. But regardless of that, I sure know loss having had plenty of it. Loss is the leitmotif and comes through loud and clear in your story. As does that magnificent rose. How I wish I could find a rose like that. I've had three David Austin tree roses, called "Pat Austin" (after his wife I guess), but over a ten year period, they lost vitality and died. Can you imagine THREE tree roses in a grouping like that? Why are some of the most exquisite things in the world the most fragile?

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  4. Oh, I almost forgot Tammy. I wanted you to see this site because it is a site of women creatives where the cards we make go towards funding Microloans for small (mostly women-owned) business. Mouse around and you'll see the cards. I had my first post today about loving and growing down into a place. You will understand this very very well. Because, I see now, it is how you have survived too.

    http://www.visionandverb.com/at-home/2014/1/14/the-love-of-a-place.html

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  5. What a beautifully written and heart felt post. I can certainly identify with gardening as therapy! I'm glad that you are filling your present garden with beautiful flowers, and that rose is absolutely gorgeous!

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  6. Holy moly, what a wonderful post. Knowing a little about your background made reading this extremely special. Thanks for the frustration and heartache you've endured in your family's service to our country!

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  7. That sent a tingle up my spine. You captured the feeling so well. I've never had a husband who had to be away for his job but when I was younger we moved fairly frequently. I can remember plants I grew but not which garden I grew them in. The picture of your empty beds with their holes waiting for plants rang a real chord.

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  8. A well-scripted post which made me feel as if I were there and feeling what you were feeling....I love when you write these narratives.
    I've planted trees and flowers and shrubs in memory of loved ones in my garden.

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  9. A stunning picture of a beautiful rose Abraham d'Arby, in my garden one of my favorites. Your words are wonderful, I fully understand the situation, glad we have our gardens for gardening is the best therapy to forget all troubles, stress and miseries.

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  10. Thank goodness for beautiful Abrahqm. It is so beautiful and surely is a source of comfort.your prose is so well written. have you thought about writing fiction, a short story or a novel?

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  11. That resonated so much ! That to garden is a need , rather than a hobby or a pastime. It can feel as much of a need as hunger.It must be sited in some very primal response, which helped to keep us alive, back in the early days of man, and has not left us.

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  12. What a touching post Tammy. I suppose for all of us gardening is a therapy. It takes your mind to that wonderful place the garden will be once it is finished. The beauty of it is of course that it will never be finished. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  13. Oh....what a brilliant, moving piece of writing. I could feel your pain and totally understand the constant digging and urge to have things growing, no matter what. It must have been hard going solo for long stints with young children and grieving. Such a wonderful post.xxx

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  14. Beautifully written, Tammy. I hope you always find some peace in your garden.

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  15. Without a garden, life for so many of us would be difficult to endure. Your writing about that hard truth in such a vivid way expresses what untold numbers feel. Garden on, Tammy.

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  16. Garden is the best therapy, that's for sure. I loved this post. I can't imagine teaching school and raising two kids while being alone much of the time, with a crap teaching position at that.

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  17. Hi Tammy. I don't know quite what I would do without a garden. Whenever I am out there in the fresh air and listening to the birds problems seem far less daunting. It's when I do my best thinking. David Austin roses are special and that one is a cracker.

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  18. That is a beautiful Rose, and the title of your post is perfect. The length of the prose is just right to convey your touching message. I especially was touched by your description of the passage of time. So true.

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  19. I'm touched by this post. Gardening is absolutely uplifting and a good therapy to ease hurt, pain and wretchedness. The David Austin rose is a real beauty.

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  20. You've shared feelings many of us experience, whether from similar circumstances or just in general...and from the comments, we all find healing and release in the garden. I know I sure do. I often spend whole days just moving things around and getting dirty. Most times not for aesthetic reasons but simply to satisfy my soul.
    Hey...I noticed the Portland Fling patch on your sidebar. I have wanted to go to every fling so far but just have not been able to manage it. For one, I cannot stand to fly! But the cost is a factor, as well. Primarily though, I've still got a kid in high school and often they've been when something else is going on with him. As it turns out, next July is when my son will be at NYU for a 2 wk music camp and there will be a performance I don't want to miss right on the dates of the fling. So I am 'probably' not going to make this next one, either. I haven't 100% concluded that, as there is still a little room for 'maybe'...but not looking like it.

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  21. A very sweet, touching story. Reminds me of two periods when I had to transition into jobs in new towns and could only get home on the weekends for several months.

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  22. What a beautiful rose. I find gardening quite therapeutic as well.

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  23. Thanks for a beautifully written post Tammy, as someone who grew up with a father who was an officer in the army I can empathise with your emotions and the constant moving from house to house – and one garden to another. In my adult life I have had more challenges than I could wish for anyone – they don’t seem to be evenly distributed between people do they ?! – and I often say that gardening keeps me sane. People I meet often think I am being flippant when I say that. I am in truth being very serious. Let’s keep on gardening :-)

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  24. This is such a lovely post, very poignant. Many flowers in my garden connect me to friends and family, with those from my father being by far the most precious. There is always a hopeful future for gardeners, we are natural optimists but nurturing a plant from the past, with all its associations is very special.

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  25. I read this post and meant to respond later after I had pondered and chewed on it. Well I did those things but never got back to comment because s..t happened. Your words have been in my heart all week.

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  26. Very moving Tammy! Gardening has always been my refuge as well. There is something about digging away in the dirt that is so darned therapeutic.

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  27. I am sure that was not easy to write. It takes all kinds of courage.

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