The day before Mother's Day my daughter left home to head back to school, a nine-hour drive, alone, one she's done several times before, but still sets my mom-nerves on edge. I dug around in my garden to keep my mind busy, poking green bean seeds in the ground and transplanting seedlings, every hour or so, my husband calling out updates of our daughter's progress.
He's got some tracking thingy on his phone, and yeah, I know, there's a creepy/stalker-y element to this, but we can't help it. We want to picture our child in the driver's seat, coasting along on her journey, the closest we will get to being in the car with her
she's crossing the bridge in Cincinnati
she's approaching Louisville
she's an hour outside Mammoth Cave
I go back to my digging and poking and mulching, relieved for the moment that she's safe and that much nearer to her destination. For the last few years I've been planning my garden ahead of time, drawing the plots out on graph paper, no longer content to randomly throw things in the ground.
There's a weird comfort in setting the borders, arranging the plants. Each year my plans are more elaborate, more structured. One large bed grown into two, and then grown into four. And now I've got side beds filled with herbs, a rock garden, corners stuffed with potted plants. In winter I checked out a stack of garden design books from the library and read them like they were novels.
Something cool I learned: my four square garden pattern can be traced all the way back to monastery gardens in Medieval times. What is it about this particular structure, about any structure--
she's nearing the Tennessee border
she's on the other side of Nashville
Something sad I learned: My daughter has been away at school for two years now, and even though I am fully adjusted to empty-nester life, each time she comes back and then leaves again, it's a fresh loss.
I draw a line in the dirt for my marigolds, trying to envision them blooming like a flowery fence in front of my tomato plants.
she's outside the city
she's there, she's home
The dog trots out to bask in the sun as I nudge the seeds into the ground. I know how it goes. Mid summer and these bare beds will be dense with plants, the reality different, despite all of my planning, from what I can imagine today. Plants tangled up with other plants, some overgrown, some drooping. Weeds working there way through despite all of my mulching.
A pumpkin (did I even plant a pumpkin?) poking up in an unexpected place, hopping over the perfectly drawn border into the grass beyond.