Sitting in my backyard on the first blatantly indulgent weekday of Spring, I am acutely aware of the cycles of change that she’s gone through, and that we’ve gone through together.

When we first moved in, she was little more than a dirt lot. There was an ominous-looking faux tombstone, a wooden cross, and some miniature christmas trees and generic rose bushes, hastily planted by my landlord. There was a soon-to be broken swinging bench, a wooden bed frame, an old car door, and a very rustic shack, with lots of potential.

We made the bed frame into a garden bed, and turned the old swinging bench into a garden trellis, much like turning a pumpkin into a carriage. The christmas trees have grown into more respectable versions of themselves, but I can’t say I’ve grown to like them much. The generic roses were thankfully taken out by the new construction next door, which also gifted us with a brand new blank white wall— an endless canvas for the hearty and unstoppable virginia creeper to grow up, ensuring an eternal evergreen container for the wildness that reigns here.

There are macro cycles of change, and micro. There is annual and perennial change. There is the energy of so many people that have contributed to creating this oasis over the last 7 years. Enthusiastic roommates and reluctant ones. Collaborators, bandmates, friends, well-meaning parents and brothers. What was each person’s vision for this place? How did their energy influence the outcome in the short term? In the long term?

The garden has had so many iterations— grass being re-seeded each year, the garden beds gradually growing larger, becoming defined. Old pieces of wood, metal, brick, finding new life as garden borders. A charming brick path, painstakingly transported and laid into the ground. Generations of string lights, found and gifted garden furniture. The vegetables that have lived and died, the flowers, the herbs.

The shack that was once so bare and obscure, with concrete floors, wood planked walls, and old-fashioned nails. How we have built and shaped her! She has been a storage space, a space for art, a studio for music, and finally, a place for healing. We have added siding, then walls, more siding, more walls, floors, and doors. Just last summer she received the most divine paint job, and she is in her most exalted form yet! The shack where I’ve sanded and stained wood, made collages and zines, sang alone with my keyboard, had full fledged 4 person band practice, created makeshift bars + photobooths during parties, and given and received miraculous healings. The shack where I fell in love with my soulmate, completely unbeknownst to me at the time.

And then there are the gradual changes, the predictable rhythms of the seasons that I’ve become familiar with. In the early spring, we clear out the old growth, re-seed the grass, and get the greens and peas in the ground. We get clear on our intentions for the season. As life begins to awaken in the garden, so too do the ants, and the long-running war with them begins anew. Now, the herbs from last year are coming in again, stronger and bigger than they were last year. The narcissus is beginning to bloom, the purple phlox is creeping, and the irises and strawberries will soon follow. This particular time of Spring is so special because the violets put forth their namesake flowers. I love the violets always, but seeing these particular blooms bring me great joy. The violets weren’t always here, I think they showed up for me personally as medicine, and as I opened my heart to their healing powers more and more, they became more prolific (and delicious).

Traditionally, summer will bring tomatoes and cucumbers and rosé. The kiddy pool (hangover pool) will come out again, the water from the hose impossibly cool. The ants will mount their fiercest battle, soon joined by the mosquito air brigade. The grill will come out, and the yard will be filled with life. In the fall, there will be a trimming down, and a turning over. Still, an appreciation. In the winter, she is still available to us, though resting.

This year, though, I am disrupting my own familiar cycles. At the height of this backyard’s beauty, I am leaving her behind. I am leaving everything I know, everything that has defined my reality living in NY for the past 10 years, and I am heading West! If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be a full-fledged freelance healer and creative, embodied in her power and fully aware of her potential, leaving NY behind to move to Portland, Oregon with her fiancé, I would have been quite skeptical. But now, in this moment, I am more than ready to take this fool’s leap.

I am ready to let go of what is in my grasp and free up my hands, in order to receive something new. I am ready to re-define my reality. I am ready to be challenged, thought provoked, and have my skills put to the test. I am ready to create new neural pathways, and completely push the limits of what I had previously thought was possible. I am ready to take all that I learned tending to my garden here, carry that love and care in my heart, and use this knowledge to plant new seeds in Portland. I’m ready for the next growth cycle.

And my garden, what will happen to her? Will the next tenants love her as I do? Will they water her? Sing to her? Care for her? Or will they neglect her? Whatever happens now is fully outside of my control. This year, I quite literally planted the rest of the seeds that I had, and I plan to nurture them fully until we leave. After that, they will need to find a new caretaker, or they will have to fend for themselves. This land is resilient, though. Even if no human lifts a finger, the rain and the sun will take care of some of it. It would take an apocalypse to stop the Virginia creepers, and it’s a constant effort to keep the morning glories from taking over the whole place. Part of me loves the idea of this garden growing wild, though of course, it would be wonderful if she found a new human companion.

Whatever happens, I am proud of the beauty that I’ve created here. I’ve done the best that I could, and I’ve done well. And I am grateful, so deeply grateful, for the oasis that I’ve been lucky enough to call home for the last 7 years. Thank you Raynegarden, I’ll see you in my dreams. <3

Sarah RayneComment