Recently, I went to work and noticed that a new pipe had been attached to my office building. It snaked around the entry doorway, stopping right above the water spigot that sits just to the left of the lilac bush I planted several years ago. This beautiful variegated lilac, that gives the world such fragrant raspberry and white colored blossoms late Spring, is rooted in a little plot of land that I got permission from my landlord to turn into a garden.
"Hmmm," I thought, "I wonder what that’s for?"
It had been no easy task, turning this dry bit of land that somehow escaped becoming a part of the parking lot it stood beside into the lush garden I am now happy to see each day I arrive. It had offended my eyes to walk past this abandoned place on the way inside, and every single time I did, I imagined what I’d do to it to make it beautiful. Once permission was obtained, I set aside a day and went to work. The hardened soil of this four by twelve foot plot was bereft of nutrients, more rock and clay than anything else. I pounded it to crumble the clay and added compost and weeded and dug up the few spindly St. John’s Wort plants that managed to subsist there. In their stead, I planted perennials: black mondo grass, lavender, a few rows of lilies and a bunch of dahlias, white, red and black tulips for the Maiden, Mother and Crone and tons of daffodils and crocus and grape hyacinth for the Spring. Early Summer each year, I would add the vibrant color of annuals like marigold and sapphire lobelia. Other tenants thanked me for taking the time and doing the work to create such visual beauty.
More recently, I pulled up and parked. And there it was. The pipe was now connected to a huge metal meter box attached to the building wall just above my completely torn up garden! I caught the eye of one of the two strong, young men by the utility truck across the street who came walking over as I asked what was going on. He was very polite. And handsome. And I remember thinking there was a time when he would have had trouble keeping his eyes from resting on my shapely bosom. Instead, he looked me directly in the eye and called me “Ma’am”.
“We’re putting in a new gas line for the building.” There’s been a lot of construction going on in this neighborhood and the preparation for the newest building on the block had clearly begun.
“How long will this process take?” I asked.
“Oh, we’ll be done by the end of the day. After we finish putting the cap on it, we’ll just need to place the guard poles. We should be finished soon. Are you the owner?” he asked.
“No, I’m just a tenant. But I've been keeping this garden for close to a decade now and there were about a hundred bulbs planted here for the spring. It’s heartbreaking to see it all torn up like this, especially because I didn’t know anything about it and I would have dug some of them up and saved them for replanting once the work was done!”
He actually bowed his head. “I’m sorry for your garden, Ma’am”, he said.
Later, when I left to go home, three bright yellow, four foot talleyesores of guard rail accosted me. They now stand at the front edge of what once was my garden, an obvious precautionary measure against cars backing out of their spots. And apparently against gardeners, too, who will find it next to impossible to reach between, or get behind them, to work the land and evoke nature’s beauty.
We are past Imbolc now and signs of Spring are appearing in all their verdant splendor. I am grateful that the lilac stands unharmed and underneath it, sweet green from the un-interfered-with bulbs are emerging. On the other end of the plot, the lavender somehow managed to make it through. But in between, mangled shoots struggle up through new clay beside the stanchions, and the gas cap, and the new rat trap unfortunately placed right on top of where my giant yellow tulip- the one that has given me three babies over the last couple of years-resides. Who knows exactly where the underground gas line actually is and how many bulbs have already met their death.
I can’t actually say they paved paradise and put up a parking lot, but I can say they marred the paradise I created in the parking lot. As the season lengthens, I’ll be watching to see what rises to the surface. After all, Nature is resilient, and hopefully all is not lost. Nature is resilient because she is flexible. She reminds us that nothing endures forever and only the fools among us believe otherwise.