Y'all know I am not a great outdoorswoman, like Sarah Palin or something, but, I tell you, I could not stay in the house today. I kept finding reasons just to be outside. I blew the last of the maple leaves out of the back yard that fell from our sad, old maple tree. Ben and I did all we could for that tree, but it was dying long before we moved here. A previous owner had built a ring of stones around the tree and filled it in with about a foot of dirt. I find it quite attractive now, with the myrtle we planted there, but all that dirt packed down on its roots started killing that tree right away. Now it looks like all the other trees in the neighborhood - leafless. We won't be here to see it leaf out in the spring. Nor anything else, for that matter.
I knew I would miss many of the good people I have met here over the past ten years, but I didn't realize it would be so difficult to leave all our plantings behind, as well. I thought about that as I swept oak leaves off the front deck today - something I do every day this time of year. Just in the front yard, there are the holly bushes we planted several years ago on either side of the garage door, for example. For some years, we had filled the big tubs the previous owners left us with geraniums and trailing vines, but it seemed we could never water them enough, and we had to buy new plants every year. When we planted the tiny holly bushes, I didn't realize that one would grow so much faster than the other, and I have spent the intervening years trying to even them up. They look just about even now, and their bright red berries are a harbinger of the coming winter.
All the leaves have fallen off the redbud, but the seed pods are still holding tight to the branches. I remember when we bought that little tree at Walmart (when we still shopped there) and Tom pushed the sapling around in a shopping cart as we made our other purchases. It was no bigger round than my thumb, and less than four feet tall. Ben and I argued about where to plant it, of course (I always want to plant things too close) and I think it is in the perfect spot now, so I probably won that argument. We planted a redbud at our old house, as well, and when we drive by there, it takes up the entire front yard. This tree will never do that here (the yard is bigger) but it is probably ten feet tall now. As I stroked its rough bark the other day, I thought that I will never see the delicate pale flowers appear on its branches again.
I won't see the wysteria bloom again, either. Ben bought that plant for me maybe the first spring we were here as a Mother's Day present. He planted it at the foot of an old pink dogwood at the corner of the front yard. We thought the dogwood was dying, but that it would be a good thing for the wysteria to climb. The wysteria has, indeed, been very happy to wind itself around the old tree, and I think it has actually been good for the dogwood, as well. All the water and fertilizer we lavished on the wysteria helped the dogwood, too, and we had beautiful pink flowers on it each spring. The dogwood trunk is totally hollow, now, though, and I suspect the sturdy wysteria entwined around it is now helping to hold it erect. There was no killing frost this spring as in past years, so we had more beautiful hanging wysteria flowers than ever before. The vines were so heavy with blossoms, they bowed down to the ground. That is how I will remember it.
I can't forget the little yellow rose bush that never quite caught on beside the front steps. This was a particularly difficult year for it, as the contractor building the deck stepped on it repeatedly until I asked him quite politely not to do it anymore. The primroses will be a colorful surprise for the new homeowners next spring. I wouldn't have thought I would like their garish colors of magenta and yellow against the vivid green leaves, but, you know, I quite do. I remember the year Julie revived them from the dead with gentle care (and lots of water). The clematis Ben and I planted several years ago hasn't really had enough time to make much of an impression, but I think it will be beautiful with its large, plate-size white flowers.
All this is just the front yard, folks. Perhaps another day we'll take a walk around the back yard. It was a big, empty box when we first moved here - just like our new yard will be. I can't wait to see what we'll plant there. It will be different from here, of course, but that's okay. That's good, in fact. It's time for a change, and I'm ready to embrace it. But first I have to say good-bye.