Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garden in the Desert. It Is Possible.

"There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments." -- Janet Kilburn Phillips

You might remember that last year I was fighting the desert and the rocky yard, to get some green going in our surroundings, or to at least clean out the junk and the rocks.

Our blooming pear tree

After a year of digging up stones, I am happy to say … I am still digging up stones in our yard. But unlike the desperation I have felt last year, I feel sort of a sense of peace now: the rocks are there to stay. They were here first and they will be there forever, I have learned. It’s not just me, it’s everyone around us, apparently. Man against stone yield winning stone. That’s what the rocky (and otherwise beautiful) landscape of Utah is. We were here second, and if we want to eat, we need to learn to work around them. Just dig, "fluff" up the soil, remove the rocks and hope. Hope big!

Hibiscus plant in our front porch planters

Some things have taken root. Some things baked in the sun – like some herbs in some containers even, because of the scorching sun, and some flowers that were always perennials, as far as I could tell, in NC, died after the first frost in UT.

Back yard trees, bushes and veggie garden to the right

We have had our frustrations. And our lessons. But we built up courage this (second) year to plant a few things in our yard. We put in a fence, for more privacy, and we planted some trees, fruit trees, evergreen bushes, and even a veggie garden. It’s all started to take shape and it’s a beautiful oasis in the world around us, otherwise very yellow and … well, rocky!

Veggie garden: tomatoes, peppers, squash, herbs and onions

The picking of the plants, and the building of the garden felt so therapeutic! We shopped around for what grows around here and we narrowed it down to our budget, preferences and to "what stays green the longest" - if that's an official criterion. I have wanted a veggie garden, too, so we took some chances, and planted some of those, too – and we will just wait and see what happens.

Front yard feature bed: Japanese maple with juniper bush and hand picked Utah rocks

We did it together, sort of like our project for planting roots in a new ground! It was beautiful. I am really, really proud of it! We still have weeds around and no official “lawn”, but to us, it’s a world of difference! It’s green and the birds love it, and we have worms, and it all breathes relief and joy! I don't see sod or a sprinkler system in our near future, but I see letting the ground be, and seeing what it offers us. We also have tomatoes, and peppers and dill and squash and evergreen bushes and trees, too! A world of possibilities, now!

Bloom of the mountains - columbine, in our front porch planters

We have not had many sunny, warm days this spring. But in the few we “stole” from the calendar, we could plant, and dig, and fertilize, and prune, and pick plants and put them in. Together. Our new life , before our eyes. Seeded.

Happy birds, in our back yard trees, against the new fence

Friday, May 13, 2011

Just Sharing. Gratefully.

Not sure if any of you keep track of this, but I am saying this yet again: if there is one thing that shocks me about America and Americans 13 years after landing here is the same thing that shocked me 13 years ago, on my first day: the entitlement attitude. The already oh so cliché taking for granted of everything. And I mean everything. The overwhelming and emotionally draining (to me) un-appreciative nature of almost anyone I know that’s born here.

In so many ways, I am so lucky to have Aa. for my husband, for his many, innumerable qualities. But one quality without which I would not have married him is … that he is a total opposite of the attitude and nature described above. His mindfulness. And gratitude. His awareness of people less fortunate than ourselves. His humble-ness.

And his newest blog speaks for this. I hope you find this to be true, too. It's lengthy, but I think it's worth it.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

After a Year

It’s been exactly a year today since that first Honey Baked ham sandwich in our new home, together, as husband and wife. It’s been a wonderful, scary and eventful journey.

Life is beautiful anywhere you make it that way! We have meandered through challenges and happy moments, through lows and highs, through losses and gains. But most of all, I think we have learned that no matter what the outside world will give us, we have each other and with a positive attitude, patience, understanding and love we can get through everything.

After a year, I still miss NC. Maybe more than when I left. I miss my friends, and I miss just the warm (literally and figuratively) culture of The South. I miss the food. And the sweet, sweet wine. As a general observation, Utah has not been as warm and friendly as I was used to before. We love to travel, though, and Utah is located at the perfect crossroads of beauty and wonder, so we have taken to the roads or the skies, when the small town we live in becomes too tight. We’re grateful to have a beautiful home to come to after each trip.

People are not very friendly here, especially to strangers, and we stick out as a sore thumb, for our social drinking, lack of kids and the fact that we don't open our doors to strangers (read: missionaries). But we’re grateful for the few friends we do have and for the times they share with us over birthdays, holidays and just tired, slow Saturdays, after a long week. We also like the weather, the mountains, the streams, the beautiful cities of Park City, Salt Lake, even Heber and Midway. We love the columbines and the desert plants. And the birds! Oh, the beautiful multicolored birds!

We have learned to tame our soil and actually planted some roots this year! We have built a fence – to make better neighbors, you know. We have shoveled snow and mowed grass. We have taken care of what’s ours. We have decorated our home together. We have celebrated Thanksgiving, and Christmas and Easter in our new home. We’re a true family now, you could say.

It’s been a great year! I don’t think we’ll have many years as full of this first one, but we will keep it interesting, I am sure. We’re still, in a lot of ways, learning the culture around us, and trying to make not just our address a home, but the larger world of our town and county.

I am speaking for both of us, I think, when I say that we don’t know what the future might bring, and we might not even make Utah our “forever” home, the home state where we’re going to retire in, or be buried in, but in the meantime, we’re making it a cozy getaway, a welcome refuge at the end of the day, a nice place to come to after a long journey. Hopefully. We’re ready for more ham sandwiches and sweet California wines in our humble abode, which had us with open arms a year ago today.