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Corona Garden

April 8, 2020

The first weekend in isolation, we went out to the garden. A long-neglected graveyard of dog excrement and broken toys, buzzing with flies, the work felt like the perfect project to “spring clean” – as if spring ever really comes in the city. The deck had the only respectable plants, some potted tulips and a reluctant sage. At least it was clean already.

Armed with gloves and black dumpster bags, we wrestled the clovers out of the ground, coming across stray dog shit and shaming myself in my head at how bad we let it get. How neglect turned our tiny plot of real green space into a smelly little dump. How wasteful. How ungrateful.

The last time I let it get this bad was when Simone was born. Those first few months, I couldn’t take care of any other creatures – Anthony took care of the pets, and me, and I took care of Simone. However, nearly every plant in our house died, because I am the one who cares about the greenery.

In a way, the clovers in our yard act like the virus. They choke the sunlight out of every other plant, covering them up completely until they wilt into the damp ground. You can pull up the weed, and it’s satisfying, because the root comes out completely – or so you think. Under the earth, a fat seed waits. You can’t see it. You don’t know how bad it is, or how many of them lie dormant. Unless we unearth an entire foot of soil in the garden and completely eradicate it, those little bastard seeds will come back over and over again. You can try as hard as you can but never truly get rid of them without serious and drastic effort. The lobotomy of garden work.

And so, too, my shame waits under the cover of one (in)action, and another, and another. It appears in situations where I have no control. Where I behave too much like a human, not enough like a saint. Where my thoughts and feelings are messy, and full of shit surprises. There’s no easy path out, unless we’re gonna unearth a whole layer of earth, which we very well may have to do at some point.

But for now, the patchwork effort is enough. The clearing we made, and the consistent effort to get outside, clean up, and maintain the space is just enough. Just enough that when I look out my bedroom window/home office/therapist’s office/personal space, I see a grateful little tree slowly budding apple blossoms, and I think: well if she can do it, damn it, then I will too.

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