starting a garden

I lived in 9 homes by the age of 13, and I remember the gardens of every single one. The memory of many bedrooms is lost for me. My earliest memory is at the age of 18 months — a blur of blinding yellow light as I leaned my head back and up; the sunshine awash through a canopy of dogwoods in the front yard. They tell me a memory that young is impossible. Joy was big enough to do the impossible.

Living across Florida, Alabama, and Ohio I was lucky to learn the similarities and differences of regions early. I also learned early the basics of things like hardiness zones and the importance of that city’s frost date. Most children were in school, but I was outside learning a new yard.

This October, I moved into my 27th home.

There have been 18 since age 13; across Arizona, South Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and California. This year, North Carolina.

Last week, a friend asked, “How do you ever feel at home?”

Nature makes me feel at home. Wherever you go, there it is. Annuals feel like friends — I know to love something for all it’s worth even though it will die by season’s end. Perennials are how I practice generosity — I care for them as my own, and I have learned to consider them my gift to the world as I move on. Tropical houseplants are all of us — taken from our natural habitat and trying to survive while someone haphazardly learns how much love we need to live and takes pictures of us for Instagram.

When I begin somewhere new, I grasp for the living things around me. They calm me, comfort me, and are the last private world I enter that remains untouched.

As children, I believe we are given a great gift: the ability to see the world through a macro lens. The tiny things around me were my Great Big World, and often, it saved me from seeing the great big mess. When I lay my head on the ground to study a leaf’s underbelly, adulthood slips down like raindrops and who I am comes back into view.

In my thirteen years of wandering as my own adult, I have waited impatiently for the day I could return to my outdoor garden. Buying my very first home on Rosewood Avenue in a region that gets all four seasons felt like a return to my childhood inner life. It feels like coming home to nobody but me. And I have great big plans.