The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Ecstasy and Joy


When I complained one day that I hadn’t gotten anything done, my friend said that’s the beauty of retirement. You can get up in the morning and blow off all your plans and little jobs.

Saturday morning I went to my group therapy planning to go home to a day of weeding and trimming. On the way I detoured to the thrift store until the road was throttled by two lanes merging into one. Scratch that. I drove across the Highland Park Bridge to a closed 28N ramp. Scratch that. 8N instead. Why not stop at Brenckle’s for a hanging basket? Cross country took me to community yard sales in Meridian with DJ entertainment and food. I found a leather cross-body purse and a gag gift for Jacob’s 30th in a few days and a picture frame.

The garden center was busy. It was all coming back to me again—the excitement of growing. Envisioning garden beds. Finding old and new friends. The fuchsia with gaudy attention-demanding pink and purple flowers called me. It has been a long time since I had one. I rejected its flamboyance and come-to-me sexiness for years. Now it demanded my respect again. The hummingbirds will love it. I grabbed a little succulent on my way out the door.

By the time I reached home, it was 4:30 pm. Time for a sit-down and then a trim. My Harry Lauder Walking Stick was overgrown with straggly tops and dead branches. So I took my little saw and nippers to it standing on the Gator bed for stretch. At its bottom, the thick trunk will stay for a longer trim session. I hope it will rejuvenate with this haircut taking on nice shape and twirling branches again.

I finished at the right time for a glass of wine on my dark porch curled up in a blanket against the coolness of night air while I talked to a friend and listened to dogs howling somewhere in the dark.

The passion of gardening came to me with our house. For perennials and bulbs and annuals and trees and shrubs. I grew up with gardeners but never took interest in their pursuits. But this house needed adornment and love. Beds of perennials. I planted peonies from my mother’s back yard and an orange azalea from my in-laws and fall crocus from Roy’s aunt. I planted different varieties of hostas and astilbe and bleeding hearts and lilies and scabiosa and daisies and alliums and crocuses and daffodils and clematis. We planted a willow tree from my in-laws that was struck off in a storm. It should have been planted by the frog/lily pond where it might have sucked up the seeping water for strength. I was a novice getting on-the-job training.

The shape of the house changed the beds and hours at work and troubles and loneliness sapped my time and energy for gardening. My interest in gardening lay dormant. Fed only by delight in other people’s gardens.

The joy of gardening has returned to me. What fertilized and watered it? Perhaps walking past the gardens at Phipps or seeing the Pittsburgh neighborhoods burst forth in color and growth. Remembering the ecstasy and joy from those events.


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