This spring I am living in a new place. And it is all about downsizing. Less than half the space indoors and just a teeny tiny bit of outdoor garden space, sometimes I pull out my hair trying to figure everything out. There are times I feel buried alive under all my stuff, but I can't imagine how to get rid of anything more. How to let go of so many things that have felt so important for so many years.
I try to remember that's all they are -- things. But things, of course, also carry meaning. There are memories attached to them. Engage the senses and the memories come pouring back, flooding me. I worry at times that if I get rid of something, I will forget something. And I don't want to forget.
But slowly I am going through things again and finding more that I can toss, recycle, sell, or give away. I am coming up with creative ways to store or display items I want to keep or am not ready to give up. I am discovering photographs that have images of things. My criterion for keeping things is -- "Do I love this?" Most of the time. Sometimes I find myself keeping things I don't love for some mysterious reason I need to figure out and other times I find myself letting go of things that I dearly love.
One thing I love and decided not to keep was my garden. I thought I might dig up my favorite plantings and bring them over here and make a miniature version of what I had there. I'd spent nearly ten years building that garden and it was beautiful. So much time spent weeding and nourishing the soil and watering and planting and planning and thinking about where plants would grow best and how to make it all look natural and not too cultivated. There is a tiny woodland along the back of the property with a grove of large oak trees and a smaller understory of flowering trees. There is naturalized forsythia that dances on the breeze. There are other naturalized forest and shade-loving plants throughout, and the beds along the other edges of the property were planted in free-flowing waves of beauty and color. Throughout the growing season something was always blooming from early spring through late in the fall.
But I let go of it all and left everything behind.
I found myself thinking about all this as I was taking a long walk on a gorgeous spring day and noticing how the earth is coming alive. My thoughts naturally strayed to my old garden and what would be blooming. And wishing that I had brought my plants with me so that I could enjoy them here. I found myself really missing my garden and grieving what was and no longer is.
After a time, I walked up to my new garden, greeted by sweet-faced dwarf pansies I recently planted and the delicate new growth of "Sweet Kate," a cultivar of spiderwort I planted last year. She withered and died away over the summer and I spent the winter wondering whether she would come back. I can't express the joy I felt when I saw the tender new growth struggling to push its way through the dark earth and begin to emerge. There were some surprises too -- a few bright pink hyacinths I did not know were here until I saw their lithe green leaves coming up a month ago and the lone hosta I'd forgotten about. I am still wondering if the dwarf daisies I planted last summer will return. I've left space for them, just in case. The pansies have grown and filled in beautifully and send out rainbows as they nod on the breeze.
I always thought that fall and winter were the seasons of letting go, but now I am thinking that spring actually is the season for that. To welcome resurrection and new life you also need to welcome letting go and death. They seem to happen almost simultaneously -- as you see the new life that is emerging, you also realize you've let go of what was so that something else could be. And the surprise of it all just may be that you realize that no matter how hard the process was, you were freefalling through grace the whole time.