I love my back yard. I’ve lived here alone for almost four years now, and my mother lived here for 40 years before that. I work every day at my desk, which looks out over the tops of the rhododendrons outside my office window onto the grass, the mass of trees — I only know the names of a few; crepe myrtle is my favorite — and a raggedy garden in the earth behind the stone wall, and in the cranny where the stone wall meets the grass.
It would be difficult to say what aspect of it I love best, and maybe most accurate of all to say that I love its seasonal and temporal permutations. Today is overcast so the orange lily is asleep, petals closed tight, while the yellow lily remains splayed open. My marigolds are not flourishing, only one or two orange heads sticking up from the greenery. The sunflower I bought a couple of weeks ago has been eaten by the groundhog, which lumbered over other flowers to reach it, flattening them. The sunflower insisted on facing away from me as I sat on the porch eating my lunch. It likes the morning sun, I guess. It seemed to me that the afternoon sun was stronger and lasted longer, but the sunflower has (or had) its own preferences which it stubbornly clung to.
Humans do not thrive clinging to their habits. I will soon have to give up the pink and white azalea riot in the spring, the pink crepe myrtle show in the fall, the roses along the fence, the ferns texturing the hillside under the sheltering tall trees.
I am moving to Hoboken, New Jersey with my love. His large apartment faces on the Hudson River and the lights of New York glitter all the way from the George Washington Bridge to Brooklyn. There are lovely walks along the river, some cobblestone streets, good restaurants, history everywhere, easy access to New York, and most of all there will be him, all the time.
Humans thrive when we rearrange our importances to suit changing circumstances. Is the crepe myrtle more important than being with the man I love? No. Nor the sunflower, nor the trees, nor my own glittering view of the city out my living room window. He would come to live here, but it is much more expensive, and ties us down more. We will be more free to travel, and to get into the city for shows and concerts, wonderful food, and superb wines. My writing mind will morph as well. Different thoughts will jump into my head as I watch barges on the Hudson, sailboats too, as I watch the natural light of dusk dimming and the man-made lights of the city coming on.
It is now time to give up watching the white butterflies profusely toiling. While it is all in front of me, I must slowly cut the cord that binds me to my back yard. Strand by strand. That is the only way humans can move into the new territory that nature has made us, unlike the groundhog, unlike the sunflower, capable of doing. It is our privilege and our challenge to let go and move on.
Tags: after 60 nothing is free, growing old, moving on