One sunny spring day we heard the thunder of a large trailer drop large bags of soil outside our condo. With hardly any delay, we spotted our 90-year old – yes you read that correctly – neighbor carrying 50-lb bags of soil back and forth to his yard. Ryan asked if he could help, to a resounding, “Nope, I’ve got it.”
And there he went. There was no stopping him. Preparing another abundant season of roses, mint, tomatoes, lettuces, peppers, and much more.
These ingredients graced our plates during the seven-course meals he served.
Being invited to a dinner at his house meant fasting all day to provide belly space, being cautious to limit the various appetizers, and preparing to do nothing else afterward. We anticipated a novel meal, as he kept detailed records of meals you’d enjoyed together and never repeated dishes. Unless it was Saint Patricks’ Day.
As soon as he’d be out tending the garden, Zeus found his way over, well mostly to the compost, of his favorite neighbor and dogsitter. Zeus offered wags of his tail and received pats on the head in response.
Every year we’d take him to see the peonies at the local university gardens. Being hard of hearing prevented him from enjoying music anymore. Yet the colors of the peonies opened up the ears of his soul and played melodically along his heart.
He was there for us to celebrate our one and only pregnancy. I do not often share photos of my pregnancy because it is tough and we do not have many because we always planned to take more “tomorrow.” It is a huge step for me to share. Yet I choose to open to this vulnerable space in memory of our sacred bond and the knowledge that he is able to be with Oak.
After everything happened to us, he opened up about suffering from tuberculosis as a young adult, spending months in an iron lung with little hope of survival. Yet he persevered with accomplishments large and small. And even more importantly he was healthy of mind, body, and spirit until his recent transition at 95 years of age.
While providing sage advice he said, “In every life a little rain must fall.” True of every life and immensely significant – for every garden.
The process of tending our roots is lifelong. Doing the work of the earth provides physiological benefits yet also bears the seeds of connection to our greater selves.
Soil – earth – is a habitat for peace. Digging within the soil creates a healing vibration – a sort of hug – from the earth mother.
Water is cleansing and nourishing. It is in every part of our body, and in the foods we eat, and flows interconnected.
Air is the fluid that we and the garden both breathe together in a cyclical pattern.
Sun rays warm us with the love and protection of all of our angels.
Thank you neighbor, for everything we enjoyed together, bread we broke, losses we endured, football games we cheered, stories we laughed at, dogs we treated, Manhattans we toasted, Derbies we bet nickels on, gardening education with our desert nephews shared, and on and on. And thank you for finding the habitat to garden next door to us and forever into our hearts.