Monday Morning Musing #73 – A small garden oasis, a dalliance with dahlias

Surely it can’t be more than half a year since we’ve ‘mused’, and just over six months since Covid immeasurably changed our lives. In that last musing, I mentioned that I had begun a journal… I admit to stopping at about Day 43. It started to feel repetitive and dare I say, somewhat normal that we were experiencing such a sweep of emotions, upending of routines, and a hunkering-down as we isolated in our family bubble. Yet even though we adapted it hasn’t been normal, and that so many people have and are still suffering, our thoughts are still full with concern and caring.

I am so very thankful… I’ve stayed healthy, eaten good food, exercised in these beautiful outdoors and spent quality time with family. For the first time in ten years, not only is our family all in Canada, we find ourselves in the same mountain town. Covid was partly the impetuous for this and unexpectedly, roots are being formed – perhaps not forever, but for now.

I hear this sentiment often, a focus on the here and now, a reassessing of what’s important, a new-found gratitude for what we have.

I took the liberty of plucking a few dahlias from my garden this past weekend, a vase of them now gracing my desk where I can savour their hues of pink and soft white perfection. Dahlias have been the unexpected delight of my garden… my touchstones of gratitude.

It’s known that both Monet and Renoir had an appreciation for this fulsome flower. Monet coveted it in his French Giverny garden, the scarlet and an orange dinner plate variety – eight inches or more in diameter. Monet’s close friend Renoir was also deeply inspired by flowers. When he rented a temporary studio in Montmartre, the studio came with an overgrown garden, profuse with dahlias. They endearingly found their way into his painting, Garden in the Rue Cortot, Montmartre.… praised for its magnificent red dahlias amidst a jumble of grass and creepers.

My dahlias are more amongst a jumble of carrots and garlic, yet I understand the appreciation, the infatuation. That sheer pleasure of spying a new bud, then revelling in its explosion of colour and petaled perfection. Our wee garden was our family Covid project, maybe not constructed with complete precision nor security from the local animal life – I’ve chased away more than a few chubby gophers nibbling on Swiss chard – yet thankfully, browsing deer were kept at bay.

And admittedly, it hasn’t yielded the vegetables we had hoped for. Initially some lettuce, spinach and lush frilly kale. Yet we’ve garnered a mere ten peas or so, a few florets of broccoli, a dozen or so tomatoes, a passel of carrots. Perhaps it was the poor soil or late start to spring, yet our garden was lovingly planned, planted and watered. But whatever it yielded, or didn’t, quite simply it became my small oasis.

Especially when, some time ago, I stole-away some space to plant the dahlias. It seems the darlings certainly don’t mind the poor soil, in fact they’ve prospered. Now as the maples and larches begin to change colour and the evenings get cooler, the dalhias bloom on. Through this last month of summer, they have unwittingly become the back drop for celebrations and gatherings, or just a spot for a cup of tea. The garden, with its bespoke Japanese inspired gate and its pink dabbles of blooms, was once a rarely-used corner of our yard. It’s been a simple inspiration, a beckoning of colour and textures exuding hope and fortitude, a place for calm.

I hope you’ve also found your own small blessings, personal oasis and objects of hope. A few weeks ago, I was interviewed for the Podcast, Transcontinental Overload. I spoke of finally finding peace at home, the joy of suddenly sharing so much time with our adult children, of how an E Bike and glamping helped reconnect my marriage, and yes, of this small dahlia-dappled garden…

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