I have always felt a fondness for that line in "Gone with the Wind" when Scarlett's father tells her how important Tara is, that land always matters.
I've always seen myself in a house I designed myself with lots of land and rich, thick dirt. Fruit trees and a garden and lots of flowers and all designed by me. The house I just bought sits on barely half an acre and is mostly sand. It is not my dream house but it is a huge step above where we were and it is a good situation for us.
But let me tell you what I love about it. The yard is bare. No landscaping, bushes, or trees (except a couple of pines on the back property line). It is a blank slate. It will become whatever I make it. I can literally make what is in my head appear. I built raised beds to grow vegetables in, planned where the compost is going to be, laid out where the rain barrels go and what sections they will feed. Raked pine straw until my hands bled. Planted azaleas and Indian hawthorne. In my head I also see the pavers laid out as a walkway, the arch and gate with confederate jasmine and moonglows. The lattice work with Virginia creeper and morning glories. The banana plant and tropical plants that will line the back fence. The back fence, high enough to contain a puppy but not so high that it looked uninviting. The water element.
I can see it all in my head, and I will have the pleasure of seeing it literally take shape before my very eyes as I make it what I want.
The parallel struck me. If only we were so secure in how we arranged and planned our lives. If we believed that what we saw in our heads could become a reality with a little hard work and time. There are times when I think how nice it would be to start over with a blank slate, all new. But here’s the thing, while my yard may appear blank, it is not. There are the knotty roots from the pine trees a friend took down for me that almost break my shovel as I dig down in the sand to secure the raised beds. There is pine straw that has composted in a pile into thick, rich dirt. There are cacti and these horrible green, thorny vine plants that make me bleed everytime I run into them and they are everywhere! Life teems in every corner, albeit sometimes beneath the surface.
So I think that even if we were able to wipe the slate clean, something would remain. People with amnesia often remember favorite songs or foods, and yet do not know family members and loved ones. I think that maybe there is something innately wired into our systems where we are a certain way.
I am a doer. I plan, I organize, and as a friend once told me, when all else fails I leap and go on faith. So I think my non existent garden and I are going to be a good fit. I will plan it all out, I will put in the time until it matches the picture in my head, put in the time, and when all else fails, follow my instincts.
As I play in the dirt I take great satisfaction in knowing I did this. I made this. I created this. It renews my sense of strength. And maybe, my garden will remind me to carry those feelings into the rest of my life.