I rarely set out to potter. It inevitably begins as an innocent amble into the garden without any destination in mind. The day is generally mild with tints of blue visible in the massive open Atlantic sky above this house whilst at eye level a bounty of drunken daisies bend over disconsolate after a recent rain shower, straining to recoup their proud shining faces. There are sounds too; the gentle lowing from the cattle in the field to the north of us and occasionally a lad of a rooster can be heard heralding his masculinity. Apart from those sounds there is only the wind and my thoughts.
So the pottering days bring nothing but nature and in turn peace. It is surely something to celebrate. This amble into nothing. One can inspect the mass of mint growth in the wild patch. Delight over the guaranteed blackberry harvest in September. The goodness of jam already envisioned cooling, purple gold, on the windowsill.
I root around in the brambles. Dig out old dandelion weeds. Stubborn souls. I gather the needles from the pine trees and pile them into the chiminea and set it alight. The needles crackle and curl and red flames blaze. I stand back and look for more fuel. Randomly tossing in bits of sticks and anything I think might add to the flames. But there is a gift in all this. Because inbetween two of the pine trees I discover the oak tree. Planted over fifteen years ago. Lost in bramble and hidden by the branches of the pines.
I remember. I went to a garden store with H. I wanted an oak. I wanted a tree that took years to grow. I said 'the growth is so slow, but it will be here when we are long gone'. I thought it would be symbolic.
I forgot about the oak. How we planted it so carefully. How we hoped it would survive. I must have drowned in all the other things, the things within the walls, the needs, the fears, the wants, the tears, the laughter, the celebration, the deaths. The years choked the oak out of me. Until today. Until I saw it. Until I cried. Until I called H and said 'you'll never believe it''. 'Look', I said, 'it survived'. 'The oak'.
We tore away the brambles from the base of the tree. We cut down many branches of the pines. I threw the branches into the fire. The smell was reminiscent of the past. Sedona in Fall. Nothing but the open road before me. Dreams galore to carry me along to here.
The oak is beautiful. It survived neglect and lack of light and it grew struggling against the big bad pines on either side, the gnarly thorns of blackberry bushes, soldiers of nettles.
It breathes now. The oak. I went down today to check on it. The sunlight cloaked its branches. I stood there for a long time. I felt as if I looked at myself in that tree. Small but still growing.