One woman, lots of paint and hundreds of tiles. If you're here because you found a painted tile, it's yours to keep.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Vulnerable Veronica's Secret Garden

Veronica dreamed of transforming a corner of the big field behind her home, into a secret garden. She spread soil, she dug in the dirt, and she planted little seeds and watered them all regularly ... She even began burying all of her fruit peels and eggs shells and coffee grounds out here to help the soil. Despite doing all the things gardening experts advised, it wasn't going as she envisioned. While occasional sprouts developed into straggly plants, nothing grew and thrived the way she dreamed it should.

Furthermore, the whole process began to feel like a chore, like something she started and had to finish just because she sometimes heard that little voice going, "Finish what you start." She knew, however, that that little voice was a fibber because the truth is that there are plenty of things that people start and shouldn't finish, and even as she thought about this, she realized how that statement could be taken many different ways, and all of them would be true.

And this is mostly what she loved about spending time in the secret garden space ... Even when things weren't growing, she's just kinda sit around for awhile and thought about stuff ... She'd let all the little idea bubbles in her head float around get to know one another, and then just sit back and listen to their conversations. While doing so, she came to some rather interesting realizations about herself, about life and about this garden and all that this little space meant to her.

One night, after watering and fertilizing and doing all the things people say you should do with gardens, she found herself sitting out there on an upside down metal tub, looking up at the moon and wondering what on earth possessed her to keep returning here. She had a vision that this garden would "burst into life," as she once heard it put in a song on the radio. She envisioned fireflies, ladybugs and flowers dancing in the moonlight to the sound of the frogs and the crickets ... and she wished really hard for her garden to be able to enjoy that sort of life.

On some deeper level, she needed confirmation that envisioning, believing and wishing really hard can help bring about new realities. Once she realized all of this, she spoke these shiny new and honest thoughts aloud to this little piece of earth known as her secret garden and it felt pretty empowering. The next night, she saw that the plants looked healthier and happier. She even spotted a bloom. So she did some more thinking, arrived at new realizations and shared those with her flowers.

One of Veronica's biggest epiphanies turns out to be something she had known all along, but had simply never applied to gardening. The garden took so long to thrive because she approached it the way most people approach it instead of just stopping and listening to her garden, and to her own thoughts. She wasn't feeling her way through things, which has been the only thing that has ever truly worked for her in this life.

Now Veronica understands how to garden, and while it's not the way most people would garden, it's OK, because Veronica's just different. Not that she's a freak or anything. She just processes life a little differently than some people. And her garden, well, it's pretty unique too. Now that they talk, everything is going much better for Veronica, and the garden she continues to fertilize with her secrets

Late every night, Veronica wanders out to her garden and sits on that upside-down metal tub for awhile just thinking and trying to get to the heart of things she doesn't understand, even about herself. It's like the secrets she keeps from herself, about herself, are emerging. When they surface, she whispers those secrets to the flowers. They share with her too ... blooms, fireflies and occasionally, when the wind is just right, all the flowers sway in unison in what looks like a garden ballet. But that doesn't happen very often, so it's truly special when it does.

The garden is thriving now, and Veronica finds herself wondering what will happen when she's completely out of secrets. Will that be the end of her little garden project? Will she long to keep returning to that comfortable space? How long before new secrets emerge? She's decided not to think about these things yet ... mostly because she doesn't have to think about them right now. Instead, Veronica has decided that on the night she has revealed the last of every last secret buried inside of her, she'll curl up right in the middle of her gorgeous flowerbed and sleep for a very long time.
Dropped Veronica at Birch Park today, where after years of walking the track, I discovered many hidden trails that apparently have always been there ... yet somehow I never knew they existed. I saw a sign at the end of a path while walking on the main track and wanted to go check it out. Once back there, we learned from a little information board that the park once had a train that went around the perimeter of it and that part of the tracks are still out there.

Also back there was this really long and gorgeous path with plenty of interesting spider webs to check out. I happily did not get tangled up in any. One of the paths was completely covered by a canopy of trees, and someone had been down that path today because as we were walking we encountered a carving in the dirt that was one heart inside of another inside of another. I love finding little temporary art things like that ... But then about 20 or so steps later, there was another and then another. I think we counted like 8 of them. Later when I would pass someone on the track, I'd wondered if it was them who was back there on the secret path, drawing hearts. With the exception of babies in strollers, I didn't spot any kids in the park today, so maybe it was an adult which somehow makes me smile even more.

One of the paths we discovered today led to the secret tree garden where Veronica is now hanging out. You have to go back there in that little tree maze to see her because she is not that easy to find. If you stick to the road and don't travel off the beaten path ... you'll never find her, which seems appropriate. It also means she may not be found , or that by the time she is she'll be weathered and faded.

Come midnight, she may still be out there in that secret tree garden in the pitch darkness There could be rain, thunder, lightning ... creatures hanging out ... But somehow, I think Veronica will know what to do. If there's anything that doesn't scare her ... it's being in a secret garden in the middle of the night.


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