I used to wish for nice trails close by that I could ramble along for my daily walk, but now I’m grateful just to be able to walk up and down the street in front of my house. It’s approximately a quarter of a mile from my house to where the street ends, which means I am never more than a quarter of a mile from finishing, so feel as if I can push myself a bit. (Today I did two miles!) I still remember days when I’d go out in the desert walking, and sometimes I didn’t gauge my strength well enough, and I’d end up practically crawling back. It’s nice not having to worry about that, especially with a knee that’s still healing. Another benefit is that there’s no real danger along that stretch of road. There is little traffic and what dogs there are mostly stay inside.
In a way, it reminds me of where Jeff and I lived. We were bounded by farmland and highways, so the only place to walk was the country lane in front of our house. It was a third of a mile long and scenic enough, but back then, I was walking three miles a day, so that made for a lot of loops! I used to keep a pile of stones along the side of the road and would take one from one pile and drop it in the other to keep track of my laps. That’s also where I learned to look for the little things on the side of the path to keep me interested, such as a small flower or pretty stone or the way the light hit the water in the irrigation ditch. The main drawbacks were the horrible drivers. There were only a few houses along that dirt road, but the residents all drove as if they were on a race track. Eek. So much dust!
But that was then.
Now I walk on a city street, and what traffic there is has to move slowly and carefully because of the deep dips at the crossroads. If I look around as I walk, I’m sure I could find interesting things to see, but mostly I let my mind drift. And today it drifted toward the plants I’d like in my yard. The things that do best are those that plant themselves, and as long as they aren’t tall weeds or other undesirable vegetation, I let them do what they want. Still, I did order a few flowering shrubs to plant this fall.
When we went to Colorado Springs the other day, I kept seeing clumps of lush green with pink daisy-like flowers along the side of the highway, and the closest thing I could find on Colorado wildflower websites were echinacea purpurea magnus. So I ordered a plant. I suppose I could have gone back to that road and dug up some plants, but I’m sure they’d miss their friends. At least this way, I can see if the plant will grow here and either order more for next year or take my chance with seeds.
I’m given up on bulbs — they like me even less than seeds do. Even though I enjoyed seeing the bulbs that did come up, they flowered for such a short time, and then they were gone, so it seemed almost futile. Maybe, though, if I’m lucky, a few will be hardy enough to come up again next year.
The biggest surprise is that because of the rains we’ve been having, grass is growing. It almost looks like a lawn! Apparently this grass — Bermuda, I think — is a good ground cover for me. It doesn’t die if isn’t watered — it simply disappears underground, and any moisture brings it back to life. I am noticing several other types of grass in the yard, so I’m letting them all go to seed just to see what happens. There are some big areas that are bare dirt, such as where the carport and the garage used to be, but the grass is creeping into those areas, too.
Who knows, maybe by walking and thinking of my yard, I’ll dream an awesome garden into existence instead of merely an isolated flower or two.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator