The garden is overgrown. Slate had been laid across the dirt to create the patio, but weeds have grown up, died, and grown again between the slabs. I remember when I was a child I would get on my hands and knees and pull on the weeds, the hot summer sun beating down on my back, sweat running down my neck, trying not to scrape my knuckles on the hard stone. I never could get all the weeds up. They always grew back, and eventually I stopped trying.
The garden beds are overflowing with plants whose names I don’t remember, bushes bursting out from the ground, everywhere teeming with verdant life. I can hardly take a step without a vine, a thorn, caught on my dress, coiling around my ankle. Fallen leaves crinkle under my feet, and I crush the clovers that have sprung up on what I remember being a dirt path. What was once a pond full of fish and frogs is simply a dip in the earth, filled with the crashed branches of a tree I used to swing from, struck down by a storm. I pull away two pieces of bark to lay beneath my altar.
The remaining pond is murky. I wonder if any fish still live there, but I do not check. I remember with fondness how I used to feed them, and also how I once tested the ice with my own weight. I waited until I survived the peril before informing anyone else of my plan. Better forgiveness than permission. Better the worry for what could have been than what might still be.
The garden animals are toppled. I wish I could stay to right them. To organize the chairs as if for a party, to clean the tables and clear away debris. I like the garden overgrown, but human objects in disarray gives the look of a dystopia. I do not care for this version of the apocalypse. I love to see order and chaos in harmony.
I wonder what would happen if love were struck by lightning. Would it be an invigorating shock, or would it lead to destruction? Would it be a life-bringer that scars? I speak here not of a single love, but of the love that encompasses the whole. When we say that love is a renewable resource, that does not mean that love is infinite; love still needs recharging. Someone can have love enough for everyone in their lives, but only if they receive love in return.
I do not speak here of love in a strictly romantic sense, but of love in the positivity, joy, hope and passion one gives to the world and to others and that one receives in return. Love and hope often go hand in hand, as the closest and dearest of companions.
I find love in the garden — overgrown, yes, and all the more beautiful. It tells a story, not of apocalypse after all, but of survival, of things finding their place in chaos no matter how humans choose to arrange it. A place to join together in safety and in community. I laid down these slates, and in them I find… home.