A Break in the Storm


This past week has been a brutal storm but I kept afloat during what seemed like a tempest. My novel progressed, without a real plot, but the plodding upon the land is everywhere upon it. (That was what I’d wanted most of all and I am having a lot of fun with it.) Then on Monday an emergency foster child arrived and this pre-teen was with me until Thursday afternoon. Demanding, energetic, and busy does not do justice to describe those days.

Maurice watches as Macavity takes a break on the roof. They had a difficult week
too and often needed to unwind and escape whenever possible.

Somehow I was able to write, but I ended up with a headache that still has not gone away. It was not the child per se, since it has more to do with my inability to communicate the needs of my health condition while enlivening the necessary empathy in this particular child. Conquering this hurdle is often impossible with most of these kids, yet I need to work at how to do so in the future. The children in state custody have the most difficult time with it, and as much as I understand, I cannot chose to suffer through this again.

Wouldn’t you know it though, on the last day I discovered how much she loved to garden so that really helped up both to calm down before her departure. We went on a trip to the nursery down the street when the wind storm finally let up and we bought some bulbs and pansies to plant.

Native Silk-Tassel Bush or Garrya elliptica at Portland Nursery on SE Stark. Notice my car’s bumper in the left-hand bottom corner. This shrub is in the nursery parking lot!
Many of the plant racks are empty for the season, but the native licorice fern Polypodium glycyrrhiza still persists. I love these things and have reintroduced them into my garden. Mine is on a Doug fir tree.

Lastly, I am spending my last week alone as a single part-time foster parent. The husband returns home for the winter next weekend, hopefully after the olives are harvested, but that is a whole other story. Needless to say, having him home will be wonderful and we will have a lot more fun, but it can also be stressful because I am daily reminded both verbally and non-verbally of how difficult it can be for a spouse to live with their partner when they are seriously chronically ill. The burden and the sacrifice is heavy, and I don’t know if I could do what he is able to do. My goal for this winter is to work harder at moving forward together, but this needs to be his goal too and I hope we are ready for it.

Using my interest in gardening, with a bit more of the purpose of my past, has helped me to tie my many lives together. Plants are so much a part of who I am, and of where I have come from, they have helped me to overcome a great deal of personal suffering as well as the self-pity I have experienced. Somehow I feel as though gardening has really helped me to reintegrate everything I have gone through and much like a garden design, I’ve just needed the plants to grow in. The picture has revealed itself to me, and I am at peace now. Whatever internal struggle was at play, seems to have seriously subsided.

Vaccinium ovatum with berries. This is our native NW evergreen huckleberry. I have fond memories of picking these once in the woods surrounding Mt St Helen’s. I love the berries so much, I had to plant them in my garden so that I wouldn’t have to drive too far to pick them. This is an excellent and easy to grow shrub.
Vaccinium ovatum.

Cutting some people from my life, and having little contact with others, has helped me to feel so much safer too with a sense of being protected. (I imagine my growing hedges have helped to concretely remind me of this action as well. Maybe I will name these hedges accordingly in the future.) Editing or trimming can clean so many things up, making things clearer, and for me, I have really had to come to terms with the fact that I come from a family that cannot cope with chronic illness, and that is just the way it is for them, but it no longer had to be that way for me.

You see, when you have been ill for almost 10 years, and your family still cannot pronounce what you’ve been diagnosed with, nor have they taken the time to understand what it is, or how it functions, you know it is time to step back and stop trying to reach them.

I feel much like any plant in a garden now. I am complicated, but I have very basic needs. I need my food and water to survive. Sunshine will help me stand up. Sometimes I may flower and bare fruit, but sometimes I may grow weak and need help. The list goes on and on, but what matters most is that no cure or magical fertilizer will make the plant perfect forever—just like me—and we are both in flux. It is a day to day thing, and I am happy in the moment, just as I imagine my plants are sometimes when they put on their show, even it it might be their final one of the year…

The last of my summer roses. This is a Damask rose from Heirloom Roses. This summer I finally harvested petals and made rosary beads. Not sure yet what to make with them, but the rose water was delicious too! I used it in my Syrian lemonade. I will have to share those recipes next season.

6 thoughts on “A Break in the Storm

  1. I am thoroughly amazed by what you must conquer and endure in your life, yet still have the ambition and inspiration to write a novel. Foster children must be quite a handful if you are healthy, let alone with an illness and a husband away on work. All my best.


  2. GardenWalkGardenTalk,
    We all have to face something. That is what I have learned over the last decade. These difficult questions only popped up in my life earlier than in many of my friends' lives. I will be ready when the time comes for them.

    Making a list of things I still want to do seems a little dramatic at 36, but even that has been helpful. The novel just happened to be at the top and is one of the least expensive so of course I had to do it first!


  3. Coping with a child's trauma must be challenging at the best of times especially when the child isn't yours so how you cope with that and your illness is beyond me. I admire you.

    I have struggled with grief this year. I know its not classed as an illness but I have experienced some profound physical symptons and like you I have found myself editing life and removing things that do not add to my life but detract from it.

    Stay positive


  4. PatientGardener,
    Trauma is something that fascinates me. I never realized how much I've experienced myself until recently. The children remind me constantly that I have a choice, and I chose to walk away from it. Some part of me hopes this will help them someday to make that choice too.

    Grief, that many faced foe, is still with me, as I fear it always has been, but I think that it may soon walk away from me. I am letting go of its hand as I step out again into the world but I fear it will always be nearby.

    Being positive helps so much and don't let the physical symptoms get to you. Keep those seed catalogs close if you need some diversion, and spoil yourself when you can.


  5. You are amazing! I am glad that the gardening helps you and that you help the children. EVen better that your husband will be around and you can enjoy so much more now that you are together.


  6. Back up, rose petals to rosary beads?? I too admire you for fostering children. And since that is what you share with us, I am amazed and pleased that 'so many' can share your love of plants and gardening. (The phrase – for better or worse but not for lunch – comes to mind ;>)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s