Lately, Baker and I have been going on afternoon walks down the unevenly paved road leading into Bodega town. It’s a good couple of miles and I leave my phone at home so I can be fully present to my reality and to Baker’s infectious joy as he frolics down the road with his buoyant gallop. He never did learn how to run properly.
As we walk I am present. No podcast, no music, no Audible book. Just me smiling and laughing at my youthful pup as I become more at home in my new space and it’s quickly becoming my most favorite way of spending time with him.
Sometimes I am surprised by the gentle drift of the heady floral smells wafting throughout the air as we are well into autumn and those smells seem as if they should be long gone by now. These smells change as the seasons do. The air lingers with the familiarity of autumn from my youth growing up in the Pacific Northwest but every now and then I still catch the lingering smells of a summer that is having a hard time letting go.
Mostly the air smells of decaying leaves and lingering cool crisp morning dew as I pull my navy sweater down over my hands to protect them from the change of temperature when we hit a shady patch on the road.
Whenever we walk by a garden that is still overflowing with an abundance of messy elegance I am taken back in time to a place where I once was a mystical gardener. Maybe another life but a deep knowing that whispers, “you are a gardener too, Amanda.” It feels like a part of my truth I haven’t quite learned how to achieve yet. But it’s a part of my truth none the less.
When I lived in Oregon my former partner was the gardener and me, well, let’s just say I was his curious apprentice at best. When it came to my own gardening skills, most of the time I was still just that young girl doing cartwheels in outfield or braiding my teammate’s hair. In other words, I had other things that pulled at my attention.
We had thirteen rather large raised beds and a bustling garden of bright red and orange heirloom tomatoes that burst with a sweetness you just don’t understand until you’ve had a tomato straight from a garden. It’s nothing like a store-bought one and I now understand why my mom used to eat them like apples on the front stoop when she was young.
There were giant heads of emerald green broccoli and zucchini the size of my forearm and sugar-sweet snap peas we’d often pick and eat straight from the vine as we tended to the garden. Every now and then I’d meander out to the beds alone and harvest whatever looked ripe all the while knowing there was a part of me that knew this would eventually be my own path.
And now that path has never been more present.
It’s no secret I already have an affinity for house plants. My love of tending to them developed in my last home in Encinitas where I acquired roughly sixty of them and tending to them became one of my most cherished parts of my week. Most of these plants survived the move but some didn’t and now I’m learning about how to take care of them here. I love assessing each individual plant’s needs and how I can keep them alive and happy. It’s a presence and awareness and attention to detail you learn with time. This gives me hope that I can do the same for the garden.
But it’s still a bit overwhelming for me to take on such a great task on my own. A reality I inflict on myself really. I think I have to do it all at once instead of realizing it’s a lifelong journey, of becoming. Becoming anything really.
So I will start small. I will plan during these cooler months and sow seeds (both literally and figuratively) until I can plant my garden.
Because I am, a gardener.