In the dirt patch
beside the garage door, a string
of yellow crocus bloom
where my mother planted them,
the only horticultural attempt
that has survived there
in the clay soil and baking sun.
Heedless to the cat piles
and last season’s weeds that clutter
their bed, they form a phalanx
of spindle-legged soldiers
marching into spring
with no flutter of pretense,
no encouragement, not even water.
And when we smile in passing,
they nod to say Of course. My pleasure.
Pretty, right? The flowers? Now I have to show you this. These are the same flowers and the same nosy cat.
With the spring-like weather we've been having, my crocus came up early this year. Look how silly they are. I love them for their resiliency and cheerfulness, but just LOOK where they have to stand. What a mess. This is one of my trouble spots. I have a lot of them. Some of them are mental or emotional. Some of them are on or in my body. And some of them, like this one, are beside my garage. It's a place in my life where things just don't want to fall in line with the rest of the narrative. Or they don't quite measure up. I think we all have them. They're the spots in your landscape where you plant things and plant other things and try something hardy and "low-maintenance," then go back to the original thing again, but nothing takes. Like this spot.
I wanted you to be able to see it just how it really looks in person. Because from the right distance and angle, and in the right light, it can look better than this. But that's kind of an "alternative fact," if you know what I mean. Some people might want to believe it's the reality, but it's not actually a good representation of what exists in the real world.
This bed is the ugliest spot around my house right now, and has been for four years. It irks me to no end. Mostly because it's so visible. I have to walk by it several times every day. As you can see, the only thing that has taken are these crocus that my mom "threw in the ground," the first fall we lived here. (My mom never "plants." She only "throws" bulbs, seed, and live plants in the ground, with surprisingly good results.) The rest of the bed is a scrabble of old mulch, weeds, and dusty clay soil that the cats use as a litter box. And it's southfacing, against the white siding of the garage, so it gets scorching hot.
I wonder sometimes if these "trouble spots" would be better off if we just stopped focusing on them and didn't care so much. Or tried to see them with fresh eyes. Originally I was hoping for something like this.
Haha. Pinterest strikes again! Maybe unrealistic expectations have interfered with my ability to be practical about what's possible. But as I study this picture, I'm noticing the flower pots set into the landscape to add a bit of color. And that's an idea. My grandma always kept, and still keeps, a jumble of mismatched planters outside her back door. It isn't the prettiest arrangement, but she's able to keep something blooming in a spot that is otherwise hard-packed dirt and rubbish, too inhospitable to grow anything but bindweed.
Container planting might be the tack this year. It's not a big investment in time or money and it will save me digging around in a minefield of cat poo. I'll have to work around the crocus, of course. You have to admire anything that can do so much with so little.
Whenever Grandma has a spot that she doesn't like, she turns it into a "beauty spot." She might decorate with silk flowers or solar lights or garden flags. Or she puts twinkle lights around it. My Grandma is 92 and full of wisdom, though sometimes I can dismiss it as quirkiness. But there's really nothing foolish or quirky about choosing to enjoy what you can have, and letting go of what you can't. That's preserving one's sanity. Now I'm not quite ready to resort to silk flowers yet, but I'll let you know how things come out with my newly recalculated expectations.