A good friend gave me some great advice yesterday. Knowing that I was trying to come up with the answers to some difficult questions, she told me to take the afternoon off and just go be with nature. Though I couldn't take the time yesterday, I did get outside a bit today. First, I took three of the dogs to the dog park. I don't usually take Bennie since she's older and doesn't really like playing rough like they do there, but she wanted to go for a ride, so I figured the ride would compensate for the destination. Anyway, the dog park was the perfect destination for me. It's a great park, the best one I've ever been to, with lots of big shade trees, park benches, and picnic tables. It backs up to a brook with a small, dammed off section which creates a pool perfect for dogs to swim in. Since none of mine are swimmers, though Labrador blood runs through half of them, we didn't visit the water today, but some of the other dogs there did and they happily shared the water left on their coats and feet with the rest of us.
The dog park is a great place to just get dirty and have fun. I mean, the dogs have no pretenses about their objectives, so why not drop your defenses and do the same? I, for one, can think of nothing better than being kissed by a 100-pound pit bull who climbs up onto your lap or having a shy Rhodesian nudge your hand for a clandestine stroke while the rest of the canine crowd is engaged in something akin to a rugby scrum in the far corner of the park. The dog park puts all humans on an even playing field. There are no occupations or titles there. You're Gator's mom or Happy's dad. (Yes, there was a dog named Happy there today!) No one asks you about your political views or where your kids go to school. They talk about how old their dog is and how they came to have a dog. They talk about surgeries for knee injuries, baby teeth, the dog at home who doesn't like the park, and the funny things their dogs do. They smile, they laugh, they live in the moment...just like their dogs. The dog park is kind of like a playground for grown-ups.
So, since it's in the 90's right now, we didn't stay at the park for too long, but after everyone had their nap in the A/C, I felt the need to go back outside again. I haven't felt like doing much in the gardens around the house all year. Truth be told, I haven't felt much passion for gardening since we moved here. Maybe it's because the other houses are so close, and I prefer a more secluded outdoor space. Maybe it's just my lack of joy over living in Connecticut in the first place. But, hostas still need to be trimmed back after their blooms are gone, and I still hadn't done this, so outside I went. Armed with a new pair of shears that I found tucked away in my old, rusty gardening cabinet, I started cutting, and cutting, and cutting.
I soon remembered what I loved about being in the garden, about doing a mundane task like weeding or pruning. It's the quiet that I find inside my head. Gone are the voices of worry and doubt. There is no such thing as gossip or judgment. No deadlines, no bills, no boss, no nothing and nobody. Watched over by my dogs, who somehow protect me from the outside world, I am able to just dig into the task at hand. Today, I reacquainted myself with the daddy longlegs spider and thanked him for the great job he does in my garden. I walked barefoot through the fallen leaves of last autumn that line the beds of the side yard, where our characteristically au naturel approach to gardening is more "naturel" than the front, and I could feel the warmth of decay through my soles. I had dirt under my nails and sweat on my brow, and I felt truly accomplished and peaceful, all at once.
I had cut and cut away at the things that were no longer needed and had thrown them in a heap onto the compost pile. Like pushing aside the nonsense that clutters my mind from time to time, I cleared space for new growth as well as tidying up what's left behind when an something dies. There's still work to do, as I never made it to the hosta bed outside the kitchen window, but I guess I know where my next opportunity lies.