Thursday, July 29, 2010


Viet and I met several Americans (all "young" women--twenties and thirties) on our return flight home, all traveling alone save for two friends who took advantage of cheap airfare to visit Denmark for 5 days, and I was struck by a comment each of them made on separate occasions: they were all very happy to be returning home.

Traveling when young(er) is easy: having few if any attachments liberates the self in so many senses, and enables one to pick up and leave unencumbered, bound only by a plane ticket, perhaps a hotel reservation, and whatever preconceptions one may have developed of a place. Many of my students readily take advantage of the university's multiple study abroad programs; they leave with abandon, armed with energy, excitement, desire to see the world, and a healthy dose of idealism.

But as one grows older, attachments come in many forms: children, pets, homes, jobs, gardens. Traveling becomes a bit more psychically difficult, and the return home is looked forward to, joyous, even sweet. Our roots urge us, nay, pull us back from our jaunts.

True, I was ready to come home days before our departure. I turned to Viet and announced my readiness. I had, in the language of my sage friend Jim, truly vacated.

Most of us have obligations to which we become accustomed and which compel us always to return. Many of us are fortunate enough to create a life, thereby making the return bearable if not enjoyable. A few of us actually grow into life, and thus the return is as important as the time away. The house and gardens at 410 have offered me both the opportunity to create a life and to grow into life--and seeing Rose Mallow, now reaching to my nose, and her single glowing red flower, even in the darkness of night, painted my return in most illustrious of colors.

Armed with my camera, I emerged from the house the next morning to photograph this beauty, only to find her only flower dropped to the ground. Welcome home. But she is rife with buds, and I look forward to her amorous display of seduction.

I scanned the gardens and was surprised by what survived and flourished in the extreme heat and humidity, and also by what died. One purple day lily, which had a blossom when I departed, had two single mini-leaves; clearly it died back at some point but with recent heavy rains it began to grow again. Gaura died; or perhaps is merely aestivating. Several of the hostas in the rear garden baked, as did many of the ferns.  Ligularia flowered, but now the flower stalk stands burned, dried, cracked, and several of the leaves have fallen to the ground unable to withstand the heat.

But the Rudolph Waleuphrud Euphorbia doubled in size, while Tall Purpletop Verbena looks like it tripled. The Provence lavender has produced another round of blooms, the Catmint is now quite tall albeit leggy, and the Feverfew has rejuvenated after what I assume to have been long weeks of crispy edginess. The Lemongrass, which had 12 stalks when I departed, now has 25. The potted mint is flourishing finally, while of two patches of mint in the garden one struggles for existence while the other seems to have vanished. My friend Kathy mailed me a clump of Siberian irises earlier this season, and it had struggled since I planted it. Now it flourishes. 

So many changes, and so much work to be done.

A praying mantis greeted me this morning, coming up and out from within the chrysthanthemum, probably wondering when I was going to start my chores. In due time, in due time. 

Welcome home, indeed. It feels rather good.

No comments:

Post a Comment