During this season of relative cold and darkness, I experience my garden in brief increments of time. I may take a brisk stroll through it on a windy day, or spend half an hour basking in a lawn chair during a calm, sunny afternoon, or work an hour here and there, pruning or mulching or setting pavers.
Then there are the delicious periods of watching the garden from indoors as I’m drinking my morning coffee. And some evenings I finish off the day looking out at the stars from the darkened house with a cat or three, near a slightly open window so we can listen to the night sounds and smell the crisp air.
All these momentary visceral memories are accumulating in me, throughout the seasons and over the years. They form the backbone of my bond with my specific place.
If I concentrate, I can glimpse again a magpie swooping down to glide low over the field, picture the golden glow of grass seedheads on an autumn evening, smell the chocolate flowers, taste that first sunripened tomato, and hear the distant rustling of dry leaves high up in the poplars.
Experiencing these moments of communion, and re-experiencing them in my mind, stirs powerful feelings of affection for this land. Those moments lay a foundation of peace and joy that seeps into every other aspect of my life.
Less than a week from now, the days will begin to lengthen. We will head back toward the season when gardeners and nature lovers may be found outdoors more often than not. But right now, when they are much scarcer, I treasure each brief moment spent in my garden. And when I can’t be out there, I delight in sifting through the accumulated memories.