Monday, January 18, 2016

The optimists garden




I walked out to the garden the other day, just because I missed it so. As I rounded the corner, I was surprised to find it empty. No Francis 1 (who is seriously the spitting image of the late French actor Fernandel) grinning at me crookedly or Francis 2 herding his Irish setter away from the fallen apples, no Olivier hammering away to enforce his raised beds or Clément adjusting his round glasses on his nose while giving me a quick nod.

Rather it was just the plants and the earth; all were sleeping. I felt as if I should tiptoe across the spongy grass for fear of disturbing all that lay still and quiet. The lowering clouds overhead further dulled the sound until it felt as if I were wading into a sea lined in feutre. When I arrived at our plot, I immediately noticed that our gate, which had already been barely hanging together, had given up trying and had sighed its slats down to the ground. No weeds perked up peskily through the layers of compost covered earth. I checked our new plot as well and it too was a blanket swept clean yet devoid of color. I could not even hear the birds sing - they always do, it is a joyful cacophony - and I wondered if I had somehow slipped into a ghostly dimension of someone else's garden.

But here is where I write: "And then the sun came out."

And then the sun came out, sneaking behind the gray, pushing it aside and spilling down all around me. I shook my head, giggling for no one, because there it was again that message that has been chasing me around ceaselessly*: "perspective, perspective, perspective."

For that self-same garden (yes, I realize that for most people there is not really a self there but just ask the Balinese and see what they say) was instantly transformed into the realm of the beautiful. The tiniest details started fighting for my attention, "Over here," "Look at me!" You know how they do. And I noticed that quite a lot of preparation for what was to come had taken place since my last visit. Save for the plot across from ours (whose young owners had their first baby at the end of the summer and so have other things on their minds), each garden had been cleared and primed. Some - notably those of the gents mentioned above - were still producing carefully chosen winter produce that the sun's rays would light up with a spotlight ta-dah.

Unlike our sloppy pile of boards, several new gates had been built - one to resemble the door of a village house with a mail slot and a note asking "No ads please", so eco-friendly, and another - well, this one stopped me in my tracks - that labelled what was inside as Le Jardin de L'Optimiste or...The Optimists Garden.

I looked back to our plot with its sprigs of garlic tops and fanned leeks waiting for their harvest and I realized that each garden could be called the same. For what we are all growing, along with what should be a fair amount of vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers, is nothing short of the blue-winged miracle of hope. At that moment, the birds raced overhead and began to sing.
















Thank you all so very much for your many, many kind comments and emails after my previous post about our recent car accident. I was incredibly moved by them and am truly grateful (and proud) to have such an amazing community here. Merci...

...et gros bisous from Provence,
Heather


*Just a curious little aside: my first instinct was to write that it was a message that "had been chasing me around flaglessly" until spell-check raised a suspicious eyebrow and informed me that it wasn't a word. Perhaps it is all those years of reading Shakespeare (and those of you who have been here for a while know that I don't hesitate to make a word up from time to time) but I am convinced that it is indeed one. Thoughts?

32 comments:

donna baker said...

Yes, I've always said gardeners are optimists as they would never go to such trouble and work and waiting. Can't wait for it to warm up here. The cold is in my bones.

Loree said...

That was so beautiful Heather that I almost started clapping. As for spell check, it's not always correct. I am convinced that it doesn't know all the words that exist and I think Mr Shakespeare would have approved of flaglessly.

Heather Robinson said...

Oh dear. I can't stand that feeling - although we FINALLY had a bit of Mistral winds this past weekend and I was so thrilled as it finally was acting like winter. But please stay warm...and optimistic. ;)

Heather Robinson said...

Aha! Thank you Loree! Vindication at last!!!
xoxo

simpleimages2 said...

It’s because writers ( or others like you and me) invent or create new words that language vocabulary or English vocabulary is enriched. Don’t be shy.

The garden is emerging for the sun,everything looks green, “optimistic” of spring and growing season, not an ordinary “miracle”.

Is the green cabbage is ready for picking?

D. B. Ruderman said...

Lovely Heather -- you have reversed the Wordsworthian norm -- contrary to reputation, he often begins in hope and ends in confused doubt...beautiful images as well...

Maywyn Studio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RebeccaNYC said...

Flaglessly is now a word, and a good one, too.

I love your garden!! Looking forward to seeing what you produce this year.....And I love the door with the pas de pub sign. HA!!

Tracy Wood said...

I love a garden in its dormant state when you can see its 'bones'. And then, all of a sudden, there is life. So beautiful, gorgeous images Heather. xx

Heather Robinson said...

It is Edgar but it is not mine!!! ;) And there is nothing ordinary about it all...

Heather Robinson said...

Well, unfortunately that can also be me too, David. I so appreciate having your perspective and context here...thank you!

Heather Robinson said...

I am so very sorry to read of your Siser's passing at such a young age. And your reasoning makes complete sense to me and there is wisdom in it. I have also seen forms of that thinking in the ancestor worship that I have seen in Vietnam and Cambodia - something very positive and healthy in my sense.

Of course I should not be surprised that you would look into flaglessly! I had too and realize that even if it is a word, I don't think it is the word that I was looking for but rather that it might sound like the one that I was looking for - with the mix of French and English in my head, that happens a lot. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Isn't that adorable? And yes, I see there is an email from you waiting for me so I hope that means that you will see the garden in person!

Heather Robinson said...

I love that idea about its stripped down state, its bones - as if a garden were a home in itself!
Thank you for the compliment, Tracy.

Coco said...

Perhaps you´re thinking of ¨unflaggingly¨?

I do like those bamboo/reed fences. Do they cast a lot of shade? So much potential in a winter garden.

Heather Robinson said...

Yes, yes, yes Coco!!!! Oh thank you so much, I knew that someone would come through for me here. :) That is exactly the word that I meant.

The reed fences can cast a fair amount of shade so they can't be too high but the light does come through them a good bit as well. We just try and think twice about what we plant next to them. We also had another of them in the middle of the garden that we took down (despite the long work it put into making it!) because of the shade issue...Bring on the sun!

Mary said...

These photos are so beautiful.Your posts remind me how there is always something surprising and beautiful to look at in Provence. As for "flaglessly," you're such a good writer, if there is a word I haven't seen before, I will always assume it's because I haven't heard of it:)

Heather Robinson said...

Oh thank you Mary, you are so kind but Coco was right - I meant unflaggingly!! *sigh*

robin said...

Ah, yes, perspective!! It makes all the difference, but I, too, am hugely affected by the sun (and the gloomy MI winters). You give us perspective all the time: slow down, people! Notice the little things, the beauty that is all around you!!! I love all of the "action" in the gardens; must be because it's been so warm there, yes? My favorite is the photo, after the gate door, of the greenery with just a touch of sun - ahhhh!!! C'est magnifique!!! The optimists garden, indeed!

D A Wolf said...

Perspective indeed. It strikes of the strangest and most unexpected moments. Thankfully.

As always, your words and your images are exactly the music I need to hear.

xo

bonnie poppe said...

A garden is the essence of optimism, isn't it?

Heather Robinson said...

I really like that photo too, Sister - I almost put it for the first of the bunch! And you are magnifique...I love you so much!! :)

Heather Robinson said...

Merci copine...et bisous!

Heather Robinson said...

...or madness, depending on the season! ;)

La Contessa said...

YOUR GARDEN gave me a glimpse of YOU!The shadow in the dirt!!!!!!
A GARDEN can only bring JOY........................you keep digging and the DELIGHTS will ABOUND!
I read this on my phone the other day and then forgot to comment when I got home!!!
Please forgive me!
XO

Judi of Little House said...

Before I left CA for MS, I had to take out my gorgeous kale plants and the snails had just gotten the best of them. I had the healthiest snails in all of Southern California! When I get back home though, I want to plant them again. Your garden words and photos always give me hope for rebirth. I need to plan a bit ahead for something to flow in the future, a new life. A garden surely, unflaggingly represents a new life, a new beginning, and seasons of change.

Silke Bauer said...

It all looks so beautiful and I saw the opening scene right before my eyes. Just like a scene of a Film Noir. (;
Though the rest of the story is so colourful! That wonderful light, the serenity of the garden and most of all that GREEN in the winter! And that wonderful sky. Here everything is brown and frozen. (Though last week it was still spring)

When I look at the gardens I am quite surprised to see that they look all, lets call it: "utalitarian". We have those gardens here too. And (my goodness) they are called "Schrebergarten". They always have a little cabanon and all kinds of "Kitsch" in it. My grandfather had a huge one feeding the whole family with it after war. In fact he could have fed several families with it.

Heather, the headline of this post is so great right now. I was so happy to read this!
Gros Bisous, Silke

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

You've made me miss our Greek garden and I am now pondering whether the garlic might have sprouted, whether the lettuce has been harvested by others, whether the lemon tree is still producing. . .a wistful early morning pondering. . .and a strong dose of homesickness.

Heather Robinson said...

I am still so grateful to you for all of your encouragement in the beginning to "just do it" and to trust that things would grow...they did!

Heather Robinson said...

That garden opened a huge doorway for us as it was our first time trying to grow our own food and it was without a doubt the single best thing that we did last year. I am sending good energy for you as you think about your next step now that baby C has been born.
Bisous.

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you friend. Trying. And yes, some of the largest gardens (four to five plots each) could feed several families. It must have been so important for your grandfather to have had that resource. I know that even for us, at the height of last summer, it cut our food budget into two!
Gros Bisous à toi aussi,
h

Heather Robinson said...

It is hard to have your heart in several places Jackie...but just think about all that waits for you!
xo