Surveying the dirt and debris before me, I feel overwhelmed and disheartened. What was a garden in a previous year now lies piled high with clumps of sod, charred remains of tree branches, twigs and thick, prickly thistles. It is quite simply a mess. Where to begin? And will there be an end?
I start with a thistle. The shovel point aimed at the root, I am surprised to find the weed is not deeply embedded. I pull another, and feel the satisfaction of seeing a patch of red soil, for my efforts. I move slowly and methodically, starting at the outer edges of the garden plot and working my way in to the centre. All manner and size of weeds and grasses are found and uprooted, leaving a growing surface area for planting.
Plunge, dig, dump. Repeat. Sweat beads form on my forehead and muscles are starting to protest. Three wheelbarrow loads later, I am ready for the rake. The prongs scrape over the charred soil, breaking up large clumps and sifting the soil, readying the earth for the seedlings to come. I am starting to feel excitement, in spite of this weeding and hoeing and raking. There is a promise of new life in store.
We drive to the local nursery, my youngest and I. Deliberately and carefully, we select those flowers to plant in the earth that will be our summer garden. And then, the best saved for last. The moment the earth is moved back to make room for what is alive, to grow.
We plant flowers. One by one, row by row, the flowers are secured a spot. So the garden will be, for another year.