I spent the evening photographing our lovely garden this past Sunday, and I got lost in the process. I practiced different exposures and angles. Our yard is lovely, such a comfort. It is thriving unaware of Covid, anger, fear. There is an abundance of life in our small yard; flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs, bees, hornets, moths, butterflies, hummingbirds, ants, raccoons, cats, squirrels, bunnies and skunks. 

We have been finding dead honey bees on the patio this past week, and the town of Louisville just reinstated an indoor mask mandate for businesses. The mask mandate makes me sad. Angry that we can’t seem to find our way out of this pandemic. Angrier still that we continue to fight about it rather than come together.

Earlier this week I was stung by a bee while swimming laps as I reached for the edge of the pool. The skunk has been spraying at night again causing me to close the windows on these late summer evenings when the air has finally cooled. I feel on edge at times, unable to be present. This causes me to shake my head and tell myself to snap out of it. After all, my own life is rich and rewarding. “You can feel an obligation to work towards something better,” I say, “Just don’t do it at the expense of your own one beautiful life.”

The day at home was needed. We had thought to hike, but we were tired, and made the decision to take a rest day.

I am surprised to find that having no plans is hard once we make this decision. Empty days were once the days I loved most. The unfolding of time and rolling through a day intuitively was treasured. Relaxing is harder for me now. I daydream of walking at dawn on the beach while in Costa Rica, my coffee mug in hand, my camera slung over my shoulder. 

First we ran errands. We purchased supplies we needed for the cooking of our garden’s harvest. Tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, kale, apples, pumpkins. I don’t know why but the simple act of writing that sentence so full of abundance, and the simple pleasure it stirs in me, almost causes me to weep. Who am I to deserve this enormous bounty?

The supermarket for pine nuts for pesto sauce, chips to go with Rob’s homemade salsa and the vanilla ice-cream from Sweet Cow to garnish the apple crumble I planned with apples from our tree.

I had a FaceTime conversation with Hannah and Ellie. My granddaughter Ellie hid her face and said she didn’t want to talk until I asked her if she wanted to see the pumpkins in our garden. She is growing so fast and her vocabulary is years beyond a two year old, but what strikes me most is how expressive and full of personality her face is. I can see into the future and imagine how she will look as a young adult. 

I hope I am here to know that young woman.

Later I called my Dad, who I deeply love, despite our total opposite views, life philosophy, and belief systems. He seems angry about the world today, though perhaps he might say the same about me. We try not to engage in anything political, but it’s like a dark forest on the edge of most of our conversations and every time we stray there, we get lost for a moment. We seem to find our way back out; one of us corrects the other and we find a way to let it go. I am grateful for that.

Last night Rob and I came home to find a tiny mouse running in circles on our patio then running at us, as if he had gone mad. How apropos I thought.

Sometimes the back of my throat aches like it does in dreams where I wake crying dry sobs. It aches when I think of the division between so many of us, the wide crevasses we can’t seem to cross. Yesterday I said to Rob, “I think our planet and civilization are doomed.” We are heading into more and more dangerous territory. Climate change, women’s rights, the politicization of everything, an inability to care for the strangers among us, the seeming lack of awareness of how to even be a good neighbor, a good community member. 

We don’t know how to talk to each other.

I don’t fool myself. I, too, have these faults. After five years of speaking out, I am far more quiet and pick my battles carefully. 

After our errands on Sunday, we finished with a trip to a local farm stand. I had noticed their field of zinnias, another lovely garden, and longed to pick my own bouquet. 

Flowers and trees, soil and overgrown gardens, vibrant pumpkins and squash, the light in my husband’s eyes when I catch him looking at me or the feel of his strong arms wrapped around me before sleep, these are the things that tether me to the life of the here and now. These are the things that help me remain present with what is instead of worry of what might be.

I wandered in that flower field, full of joy, only thinking of the flowers I was choosing to create a portrait-worthy bouquet. Something with texture, color and a raw beauty that is found in nature and love.

That afternoon we finished our day at the local pool, refreshing our bodies in the chlorinated water. Summers growing up, I swam in my grandparents pool from morning until forced to come out for dinner. I equate the smell of chlorine with play, with calm. I swam six laps because I felt relaxed. After my shower, we made pesto and apple crumble. 

No one tells you that the gentleness of such days is the real and solid truth of life. The world will do what the world will do; we cannot control everything. Sometimes we busily seek adventure, a bike ride or hike, a journey someplace, anyplace else, forgetting home. Sometimes we are too caught up in what has not happened or what we cannot change.

Home often provides the simplest of pleasures.

I was fully present while in the midst of photographing my garden and while wandering in the zinnias, listening to the bees. While cooking next to my husband. While reading in bed.

This is my small private circle, my oasis, my lovely garden, my home.

Lovely Garden | Robin Enright Salcido | Our Stories Today