Sunday, August 4, 2013

Old mom, new tricks.

The kids have a book called All My Friends Are Dead and it has totally changed my life. Every time we read the page where the house plant says, "Please stop bringing my friends into your home if you are just going to slowly kill them," Liam would look at me, raise his eyebrows and say, "Yeah, Mama. Seriously..."

It's not like I was proud of my brown thumb, I just didn't know any other way. I grew up in the desert! (But have lived in Nashville for nine years...) My mom only taught me how to keep silk plants! (Hasn't stopped me from learning other things she didn't teach me...) I feel so guilty when innocent plants wither and die on my watch! (Maybe it's time to learn how to keep them alive...?)

I was out of excuses and tired of getting shamed by my son. It was time to turn over a new leaf.

About that time, a friend gave us a Wandering Jew clipping in a pot. At first glance, it looked like the kind of thing I could kill in my sleep. But I was determined to keep it alive. I watered it as needed (instead of mindlessly drowning it like I had done with my plants in the past), gave it plenty of sun and checked in on it daily. Not only did it not die; it flourished! I felt like the newest member in the green thumb club.

After adding a few more indoor plants and not slowly killing them, I was ready to take on the great outdoors. The front porch seemed the least intimidating place to start so I put a few flowers in pots, added a couple hanging plants and strung up some lights. I couldn't believe how the space had transformed!

So I ventured beyond the porch and into the front yard. At first I was intimidated by all the unknowns but quickly loosened up and started to enjoy myself. It didn't hurt that every time I'd plant some flowers or clean up a space, someone would tell me how nice our house looked.

I had to agree - our house did look better. It felt better too. There was only one thing left to do... tackle the back yard.

The yard itself wasn't too bad (aside from being overgrown) but the patio felt more like a parking lot than somewhere we'd want to spend an evening. It was really hard to know where to start. Partly because we're not sure how long we're going to enjoy the space as-is (it seems desperate for a multi-level deck) and partly because it's a big concrete slab that slopes slightly from the house to the lawn.

I was stumped.

Then one Saturday afternoon Bill came home with a couple big pots, some plants, a few Adirondack chairs, a bunch of soil and a vision. I could see what he was thinking but knew it was going to take a lot more stuff to make it happen. After many more trips to garden centers ("Hey kids, look! A Home Depot! I promise we'll be fast..."), we finally had enough plants and flowers and soil and chairs to turn our parking lot into a patio and our backyard into our new favorite place to hang out..

I love it. Not just the space (where I now spend LOTS of time...), but the whole process. I like getting my hands dirty and pulling vines, learning about different plants and flowers, keeping things alive (or better yet - bringing them back from the brink of death!), and watering. Watering is my new favorite thing. It's so...peaceful. Like my evening meditation.

Well, most of the time...

I'm not sure why it took me so long to show an interest in my yard but I'm so glad I finally did. And when I overheard one of my neighbors say our yard reminded him of the parents' yard in Parenthood? First I died happy, obviously. Then I realized I had done exactly what I've always wanted to do.

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