There’s no other way to describe my brain during these frigid January days than this photo of a foggy, foggy night. I admit when I first saw the lights beaming through the misty mid-winter air, I thought of a scene from “The X-Files” — you know, an alien spacecraft had landed just on the other side of the trees behind my house.
But the more I stared at the photo, the more I thought about the tangled thoughts and clouded emotions and glimmers of light in my head. There’s a lot happening up there, and very often it’s difficult to make sense or to accept what it all is.
A few posts ago, I mentioned that a recent stress test revealed another blockage in one of my coronary arteries — a blockage that is aggravated by stress and cold. When we live in a world where words like “polar vortex” and “bombogenesis” are replacing “snow,” cold becomes an even greater concern.
In fact, life is starting to sound more and more like the Jake Gyllenhaal sci-fi film The Day After Tomorrow. Just as the population in the movie migrated south for warmth, I must do the same thing. After numerous conversations with my doctors, I’ve made a decision to take some time away from work and winter.
I’ve spent the past few weeks informing colleagues and students about my January 30th departure. It’s been a month of tying up loose ends, managing my own sadness about leaving, and embracing the well wishes and goodbyes. The overall sentiment has been: “It’s good that you’re taking care of yourself, but what will we do without you?” To which I say to myself, “What will I do without them?”
And that question resonates with me as I look out from the window on this below-zero day, at a garden that is smothered beneath a blanket of white. “What will I do without the garden?”
Many of my friends and colleagues have told me they’re jealous that I’ll be going to Florida to manage my most recent health issue. They ask me, “How excited are you? Are you counting down the days?”
No, I am not.
While I’m relieved and happy to be escaping snow and cold and talk of deep-freezes, look at what I’m leaving behind. Family. Friends. And a garden that I have tended and celebrated and documented as cyclically as the seasons.
How can I be a garden blogger without a garden? Right now, I’m staring at a greenhouse that is dark and dormant and cold. I should be starting seeds out there. In a few weeks, I should be cleaning out beds, looking for the first flushes of green, sharing photos, and writing posts.
Instead, I will be in a warmer climate in a yard that has no garden — just a lawn and palm trees.
What do I even know about gardening in this sub-tropical zone? What’s different about south Florida gardening as compared to New York gardening? Will I even have the stamina to create a garden? How much will I need to depend on Joe for the heavy stuff? What of the New York garden? What’s happening to it in my absence? What am I missing? What will I return to in late spring?
At about this point, I can hear a foghorn echoing in my head. For this reason, I’ve made another difficult decision — to take a very brief hiatus from posting as regularly as I have, to wait for those beams of light to be strong enough to burn through the fog, to get to Florida and figure out how a garden blogger blogs without a garden.
And when all that happens, you will be the first to know — because inspiration often comes from the most unlikely of seeds.