Day 14: No word yet on the COVID 19 test – I should hear from them today. I started feeling better soon after starting the antibiotics – yeah for antibiotics! While every cell in my body was fighting to save me, all I could do was sleep for the past two days. I woke up this morning without coughing and thought, “Well that’s done, I’m cured!” Not exactly. I am very weak, and I think, after I write this, I’m going back to sleep.
Early yesterday, tree-cutters arrived in the yard outside my bedroom. Juan had gotten a text at 7 PM the night before that they were coming at 7:30 AM. This is for a tree we had first notified our MAGA-hat-wearing property manager, back in December, that it was dead and in danger of falling on our bedroom. We had not heard a word from him in over a month – and then, boom, tree-cutters in our garden. We had planned that when we knew the cutters were going to come, we would get some help from some strong young folks to move the shade structures, yard chairs, tables, and dozens of plants in large pots that created the delightful sitting garden under the tree. But there was no time for that.
Juan, who is trying valiantly not to be sick, and his son, who fortunately was starting his first day of working from home, rush outside and with a dolly managed to move most of the plants and shade structures. I was feeling too weak to even look out the window. The din of chain saws and the chipper stirred panic and anxiety. I avoid loud noise like the plague…
Like the plague…
Maybe the property manager HAD deliberately set this up just to flex his power. He’s enough of a slimeball to do that. It didn’t matter. What was going to happen, was going to happen. Que sera, sera. I was just going to let the fate of my garden go.
Gardens, unlike humans, can grow back. I crawled into bed, took out my hearing aids, pulled the quilt over my head, and focused on healing myself.
It wasn’t until the evening that I summoned the courage to look out the window. My beautiful sitting garden is gone. Juan and Armando did a valiant job of moving what they could, but everything else is trampled. The blue agave that was in brilliant bloom, and most of the aloe, are a pile of crushed leaves. I had hoped to keep the chips from the tree, but that didn’t happen. And yet, somehow, I was OK.
I was looking at a clean slate. One thing you learn as a gardener is that nothing stays the same. Everything changes and it’s up to us to steer that change for the better.
While I was looking out the window, I saw my neighbor replacing her pots of bromeliads and succulents on the wall that divides our properties. I called to her and without the tree between us, we had a socially distant conversation. We celebrated the fact that her plants survived, and most of mine were okay too. She reassured me that she had plenty of Cuban Oregano plants that I could use to replace what seemed to be destroyed. “You might be surprised,” she reassured in her sweet Filipina cadence, “they will probably come back.”
This morning, I am already thinking about how to resurrect my garden in a post-COVID-19, post-tree world. Seating will need to be further apart, and now, without the tree, there is room to do that. Our gatherings will be smaller, but that means we can completely focus on those we are with, maybe even doing less talking and more being in the moment. I will arrange the shade structures to shield us from the sun, but not to impede future window-chats with my neighbor.
No matter what the test results are, I’m certain that I have survived this illness and I am changed by it. I doubt that any of us will go back to “normal” after this pandemic is over. But, like my sitting garden, we will create a new normal, and it will be so much better than what we had before. Not everyone will come through this, but those who do will be better for it. We will have learned the futility of hoarding and selfishness. Many will realize that violence cannot defeat a virus. We will no longer take those we love and what we have for granted. I think our planet will be better for it. Like it or not, this virus has ignited a revolution.
I am so grateful for this chance to be on this journey with you.