Home

Digging Up and Looking Up

5 Comments

I haven’t told you about the rosebush. Well, it’s more like a rose sprig at the moment, but it’s shooting up like a gangly adolescent, having grown almost a foot in the five weeks since I prayerfully dug up the three tiny leaves and as much root as I could get.

I had planned to dig up a number of Mom’s plants before I sold her house — three heritage roses, a quince, an azalea given to her by my late friend in honor of my father, a bleeding heart given to her by my best friend in honor of Mom’s sister, a hydrangea from her best friend, mounds of snowdrops and daffodils.

But the house sold fast, I had a broken arm, and it was too emotionally painful to go over there. Life happened, and when I next drove by, the garden had been done away with and nothing remained but a few trees and a smooth expanse of grass.

There!

I was invited to a party at the house in June, my first time back in a year. It was haunting and strange to walk through my childhood home, completely renovated and all but unrecognizable. Late in the afternoon, I wandered over to where the roses had been for sixty-plus years and ran my fingers through the young grass, hoping against hope.

At first I found nothing, but then . . . there! Three miniature rose leaves, so small they might have belonged to a fairy-gardener.

I asked the new owners if I could come by with a shovel and dig it up and they agreed. I hurried over the next morning, fearful that another lawn mowing would be the end of it. I talked to the tender sprout as I dug around it. Please live. I talked to my mom’s spirit and asked her help. Why not, right? She loved those roses.

I have never seen a plant respond the way this one has. Deciding it was too risky to plant it mid-summer, I put it in a pot and have been watering and spritzing it daily. I’ve even hauled the heavy container with me on a few road trips. Tomorrow we head back to New Hampshire.

Here’s the rose on its first trip to New Hampshire in June, just a week after I dug it up.

Life Force

Life Force

This week’s blogging photo challenge is Look Up. So I thought I’d share my rose’s resurrection story and a photo looking up into the glorious blooms of my mother’s magnolia tree, which, thank heavens, the new owners have seen fit to keep.

Glory

Glory

How Not to Sell a House

10 Comments

I don’t know how to sell a house. I don’t know the first thing about selling houses, except that the process involves lawyers and inspectors and banks, and scary questions about mold and termites and squirrels in the attic. That’s why I just keep repeating “as is, strictly as is” and hope that someone will hand me a giant check and we’ll be done with it.

Since this hasn’t happened yet, I broke down and hired a realtor this week. I have a few friends who are realtors, but I value our friendships too much to ask them to sell the house I grew up in.

I am not going to be an easy client.

I’m already familiar with the squinchy little thing my new realtor does with her mouth when she’s wondering exactly how to humor me and get me out of the way so she can do her job.

Realtors have to tell you hard truths. They have to answer questions like, “What happens if they cut down Mom’s magnolia tree?” Answer: not your business. “But I want to make sure they keep the red oak flooring.” Not your business. Realtors have to tell you that it’s your memories that are worth a million bucks, not your house.

Photo from Public Domain

Photo from Public Domain

Today I showed the house to a young couple who might want to buy it. I told them that I have a picture of me and my two best friends standing right there on that step, all dressed up for our first day of kindergarten; and here’s where my Dad always hung stockings on the mantle; and my mother planted that magnolia tree fifty-five years ago and you should see it in full bloom, it’s stunning. And also did you know it’s good luck to have a lilac bush by the front door, even if it is an aging, scraggly one?

I couldn’t stop blathering. I was starting to sound like a pathetic crazy old lady, I thought, but at least I didn’t scream at them, “Please, please don’t change anything! Please don’t even touch a thing! Just go away!”

I keep telling myself that once my Mom’s house is sold, I’ll have money for travel and for fixing up my own house and garden. But of course what I really want is for my Mom and my brother to still be alive and living happily by the magnolia tree.

Over the last few years, I’ve done a lot of things I didn’t know how to do. Things I never thought I could do. Things I wish I didn’t have to do. There’s an ancient Middle Eastern proverb that has kept me afloat, and I’m clinging to it once again:

This too shall pass.

The Six Life Lessons of Japanese Knotweed

2 Comments

No, Japanese Knotweed is not some new Asian meditation technique where you sit on a hard floor with your legs knotted into uncomfortable positions and try to negate your being.

It’s nothing that pleasant.

Knotweed is an invasive plant that is severely disrupting the ecology in 26 European countries and 36 American states. Originally sent to the Kew Botanical Gardens in England by an unsuspecting German botanist in 1850, it appears now to have overrun approximately 75% of the state of New Hampshire, with ground zero being the perimeter of my lovely historic barn.

DSCN4563

I have spent considerable time meditating on this foliated menace as I hack it and burn it and smother it under black plastic. While most of my rumination involve dreams of destruction, I also think we can learn some important life lessons from Fallopia japonica

Here are six, because I’m told that people like numbered lists.

1. Don’t give up searching for light in the darkness: Japanese Knotweed can survive a very long time in total darkness. Always hopeful, it will creep along under impenetrable barriers as far as twenty feet, always reaching, always looking for the tiniest glimmer of light that will bring it new life and energy.

2. Plan on seasons of rest: Knotweed may lie dormant for five years during tough times, waiting out the bad conditions until a bit of rain or ray of sunshine urges it back to life. It knows that rest is important and that sometimes you need to save your energy for a different season.

3. The tough times can make you stronger: If a bit of Knotweed gets broken off, even if it’s battered and bruised, it will replant itself and the new growth will be even stronger for the breakage. It learns from it’s mishaps.

4. Mutual support makes for strong community: Japanese Knotweed grows in clumps as wide as 65 feet, with new shoots springing up from a dense ball of roots. These characters know that if you hang together and support each other, you can form an impressive community over time. The larger stalks crowd around young sprouts and provide a strong framework for the little ones to lean on.

5. It’s OK not to have kids: Knotweed does not produce viable seeds, though it has pretty white flowers. Because it’s roots go deep and it grows in community, this plant doesn’t need to reproduce in the traditional way to have a big impact in the world.

DSCN4564

6. Be near God: The rivers of New Hampshire are lined with Knotweed. The wise weed knows that if you plant yourself near “springs of living water” as the Jewish scriptures refer to God, you can catch a ride downstream and go places you’ve never even dreamed of before.

Related reading: Because people tend to like scary stories as well as numbered lists, check out this Knotweed story in Newsweek.

%d bloggers like this: