Monday, July 1, 2013

Clearing a space for myself

I spent all of last summer nursing a broken leg and damaged ankle, and my garden went untended. I did no weeding, no mulching, no cutting back of overeager perennials or overhanging tree branches.

This year, for reasons including sketchy weather and a dance recital, I didn't start gardening until about ten days ago. That's when I finally took a good look at the state of things.

Everything was overgrown. Perennials wrestled one another for territory and threatened to swallow the lawn furniture. Weeds looked especially proud of themselves for having taken over the entire strip behind the garage--a challenge I'm ignoring for now. The stepping-stone paths I had carefully created were invisible under on-rushing greenery. And the giant horse chestnut tree (which may instead be a buckeye but experts can't agree), which is too large for a small urban lot in the first place, formed a low-hanging canopy all the way around the back yard. It gave me a choking sense of claustrophobia.

Last weekend I spent three days cutting back, clearing weeds, spreading the eight bags of mulch still in the garage from two years ago. On Sunday I got out a ladder and spend several hours cutting overhead branches. In the post I wrote that evening, I mentioned that thanks to dancing I had a lot more stamina, a statement I based on the fact that I had perhaps never spent so many hours working in the yard.

Monday morning I couldn't move. My neck and shoulders were so stiff and sore, and so resistant to the usual pain meds, that I began to wonder whether I had some kind of dread disease.

Then I remembered that I have fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that can kick in when I eat too much sugar or become too sedentary or, ironically, overexert. It's a tricky balance, staying active but not too active. Fibro kicked in last summer after I sat around favoring the broken leg, for example. But this flareup was stronger. My upper body felt as though it had seized up, and it stayed that way for much of the week. My sleep was disrupted, which only makes things worse. Eventually gentle exercise and massages from Peter helped enough for the meds to do their job.

So now I'm back in the garden, being a bit more cautious and aware. I always enjoy the work of gardening, but I have to remember to stop periodically and look around, admiring the progress I've made while allowing my body to regroup. It feels good to know that I'm in charge of this space again. There is room for me and mine to walk the paths, sit on the benches, smell the roses.

The last peonies greet the first purple coneflower.
Yesterday I took a few photos to share. A cleared and mulched pathway, a few planters now populated with petunias and calibrachoa, and a cleared and mulched seating area where last week we sat outdoors with guests. Small victories, but satisfying.

Life is good.


stephen Hayes said...

I would love to relax and spend a few hours in your lovely garden.

DJan said...

Your garden looks wonderful! I know about that overexerting tendency. I have it, too. After the first day back skydiving this season, the next two days everything hurt. But in a good way. Now I'm used to it. I did get sick, though, after I traveled to southern California in the spring. Different food, beds, and activity, and I paid for it for a week afterwards. So even if you don't have fibro, after a certain age we suffer. But you're dancing! How wonderful!!! :-)

Meryl Baer said...

What a wonderful garden and you did a fabulous job. I try to keep up with mine, enjoy the work and the results, but it is an on-going pursuit.

troutbirder said...

Good attitude, I'd say. Perservering in spite of obstacles with a healthy dose of temperance and common sense. I've been working on a similar strategy. With all the rain it's been a great summer for growing weeds. And thanks for the kind words about my beloved puppy...:)

Evanir said...

O Amor é complexo, mas é lindo,
muito lindo! Quando ele .
Acredite no Tempo, na Amizade,
na Sabedoria, e principalmente no Amor.
A verdadeira amizade supõe um pacto de fidelidade,
uma capacidade de dar sem esperar resposta.
Em nome desse amor , que estou aqui hoje.
Um dia especial..especial de verdade.
O aniversário da minha princesa(Lara)
por isso venho convidar para uma visita no meu blog.
Uma semana abençoada e na paz.
Beijos no coração ,Evanir

Far Side of Fifty said...

All things in moderation! One weed at a time. It is easy to over do when you get to a certain age.. we think we are younger than we are:)

AiringMyLaundry said...

It looks great. I need to tend to my own garden. It's looking scary.

Grandmother Mary said...

Your garden is lovely and I'm glad you're feeling better as well. SOunds like a delicate balance for sure. How satisfying to have the yard be a pleasure to sit in and enjoy. I love the table and chair spot.

Ms Sparrow said...

It's so hard to remember your limitations that have slowly taken over your life as the years pass. I'm reminded of all the "older folks" on America's Funniest Home Videos tumbling off of bicycles and stumbling on the dance floor. We still retain the mental ability to know how to do things, but forget that our balance and muscles can't carry us through. It's a painful lesson in more ways than one! I know only too well.

Unknown said...

Your space looks beautiful now! There is something wonderful about spending time digging in the dirk and taking a moment or two to just listen to the birds.

Jeanie said...

You poor thing -- I've felt that pain so I know and all I can say "you poor thing -- be careful!"

But I'll also say that your work shows off a lovely garden and yard, so as you heal from hurts you can at least do so in a lovely spot!

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Nancy! What beautiful BEAUTIFUL photos! Hats of to you! Indigo x

Linda Myers said...

We let our yard get away from us, too, and now have made arrangements with a friend of one of our sons - now a grown man with his own yard business - to take care of it for us. We will focus on the fruits and vegetables while he wrestles with the native plants and the weeds.

Murr Brewster said...

I transplanted a whole flat of fibromyalgia in front of the hibiscus. Oh wait.

Jayne Martin said...

Nice work. It looks beautiful. I love working in the garden, too. It's so satisfying. I'm currently fighting to protect my bed of purple salvia from gophers! And my tomatoes have ripened and are glorious. Yes, it's all about pacing, my friend.


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