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,