Ruination and despair, you do not own my weary soul. Not no more. Sun pierces and makes memory of morning fog, soot settles, pain recedes, and I no longer worship at the alter of remorse.
My gardens filled with standing water, from this rainy season oddity that is June 2009. Historic levels muster in me some commensurate satori. I offer it up, epiphany for your thoughts.
See? This is down from the foot+ it was. So much water it emerges from the earth.
Tender seedlings under water. The wrong current and these young plants will snap at the stem. And it looks likely the Wallkill will flood, and that powerful current through here will be the end of all. Over a hundred gardeners' plots, flotsam and mush in 20 minutes.
Mine is special. My second year in these public gardens, and boy howdy I have needed gardening. Selling my only home 18 months ago, and surrendering 7 years of Saturdays in a 3,000 foot garden, it was hard to go public, cheek and cabbagey jowl with strangers.
But annual manure and planting got me through the last three years, my wife's cancer, my reconstructed colon and anus, my kidney stones, my two youngests' teenage years, my oldest's self-recovery, my own madness from it all.
Planting. digging, making rows. The sweaty bending, lying down in loam, dribbling seeds. Watering at dusk. Watering before coffee, in the pincushion rays of dawn. Cock-eyed at greens and purples. Pure blue life.
Smells that come to life like newborns, on curlicued breezes, for the benefit of insects. Insects as animated plans.
Getting things done, thinking with a shovel. The work of it.
I struggled to save up the meager cost of seeds and seedlings this year. My daughter Molly making a gift of some of it.
On Saturday, at 7 AM the prospect of losing everything is all I can feel, at first. The ruination and despair seeps away as soon as it rises, though, for I decide to build. A real pergola, with real wood, not scrap lumber.
After just moments trembling at the dreadful loss of it all, I turned to something else. This is so not me. Just ask my family.
I spend my quality time working out contingencies. It makes me an excellent complex CMS project manager but also, generally speaking, unhappy.
Though the hard rains threaten to return at any minute I spend the next 6 hours measuring, drilling, painstakingly erecting this pergola. I did it alone, in a half-foot of water and a steady drizzle. I used lengths of fence pole as props, to raise the 8' by 7' top box up, a few inches at a time, alongside 4 semi-temporary 4 x 4 posts. Slop thru the muck, push it up and reset the prop, then to the next side, then the next, round and round. Took an hour and a half. Like me, it could hardly bear the load, and slipped a lot. It was Beautiful.
Molly got there in rolled up jeans and flip flops and we finish it off, planting the swing bolts and hanging it. That plus miscellany took an hour and a half. Did I mention the thousands of giant but dead worms floating in the water?
But we sat there for a few minutes, she and I, in the new swing, just as the real rains came on, and I was a different man. I did not stack it up inside as another cost of handling, the breakage fees that life demands. Instead I built a pergola, on the worst day of the year, the one day not many showed up, bowing to the inevitable.
Instead of refusing to look, I went down there and stared at what I was going to lose, not even daring it to make me weep, and I built a pergola. Something for next year, if it all goes.
Now I am different. I simply did a thing, and I am forever better. When the waters rise, I build. Even if I can see it coming, I build. If loss is imminent and there is no doubt, I build. If my heart surges with the pain, I build.
If he is gone, if she will never return, if there will never be an apology, if there will never be fair or right, I will just build.
I bear it, and build.