It’s dusk, and I’ve been working in the garden all evening. My hands are covered in dirt; my forehead has a streak of mud across it where I accidentally rubbed the back of my hand. My husband and our dog are outside, too. The husband is helping, digging, lifting. The dog is watching. Like our plants, we are growing our roots. We are spreading out and digging in to a life we’ve only begun building together.
When Papa Baker came over for dinner last week, I told him that I thought I inherited Nana’s love for gardening, that I’d much rather weed than do the dishes.
“She’d rather be outside than in, that’s for sure,” he said. Tears danced in his eyes as they often do when we talk about Nana. “She sure did have a pretty garden. Pretty face, too.” At this, he chuckled and grinned his crooked grin.
So many of my memories of my mother’s parents involve gardening in some way. Nana filling her apron with fresh produce, Papa planting rows of corn with his ancient planter. The two of them, kneeling at dusk in the chicken-coop-turned-garden. Pulling weeds, pruning, watering. My wonder at the Four o’Clock plants and my joy when Nana let me take home some seeds from them.
When I work in the garden at dusk, I go back to those roots.
Last week I had to transplant all of my precious plants due to an issue with my raised garden boxes (The issue was that they had no drainage and sagged and cracked at the first rainfall). The dirt shook off of the roots as I carefully dug up each small plant and carried it to its new home. Roots dangled in the air, unable to find purchase.
That’s how we feel, lately. We are simultaneously digging into our old roots and trying desperately to plant new ones. We’re rooted but dangling. Building new traditions and customs. Longing for community, authenticity, friendship, with couples in the same place we are. Dreaming about the future. Looking for a church that shares our ideals in a geographical area that, largely, does not. Laughing late into the night and snuggling and talking in our own dumb language. Setting boundaries when those who are supposed to love us well choose not to do so. Rooting, dangling, growing, searching for purchase in something solid.