A Winter Garden rescues the Gardener

A winter garden has an austere, understated quality enhanced by dim light and intermittent color. Beauty is present, of course, but not as prominent as in the other three gardening seasons. And this winter, only just begun, has taken a hard turn and run smack into worry. Last week my daughter was diagnosed with COVID. They work in a large hospital, in a department of small space with a large staff, and although they often work in a sterile environment in multiple layers of sterile clothing (gloves, masks, covers for shoes, hair, etc), COVID still found its way in. Multiple people in the department have been diagnosed with the virus within the past six months. It’s difficult to avoid. My daughter has been very careful in life outside of work – masked, social distancing, avoiding places with crowds, video chatting instead of in-person get-togethers – but COVID found them nonetheless. To help our daughter get though this, my spouse and I have been shopping and cooking for them, and making frequent deliveries to their apartment. Still, the worry and fear that arises when your child is ill remains. We try to make our daily video chats bright and humorous, but that fear is ever-present.

To keep myself busy and to avoid becoming an overly attentive (aka irritating) parent, I’ve turned my enormous amount of extra energy to the garden. And, it’s looking tended. Very tended. Not much more to do at this point, so I have turned my attention to container gardening. Specifically, I’ve added to our succulent collection. My spouse is intrigued by these unusual and sometimes odd plants, and his interest in them offers us something benign to focus on. It helps for a moment, at least. And I’ve made three small succulent container gardens for our daughter which she enjoys tending.

Five year old Crassula in a talavera container.
My spouse painted the purple container. All very young plants.
A variety of Crassulas with an young Aeonium and Sedum.
My daughter’s cat is staying with us while they recovers. He runs to my phone when he hears us chatting.
The three of us coming home from a wedding a few years ago.

We have always been a close, loving family and I consider us very fortunate. Our daugher has excellent health insurance, friends and family who offer love and support, and I am confident that the virus will run its course with no lingering damage. We are very mindful of how fortunate we are. We are, also, mindful of the thousands of people who have succumb to this awful virus, of the loss, of the broken families. And the feelings of helplessness.

At this time, we are busy planning a summer vacation to the Olympic National Forest, and to places our daughter hasn’t yet visited. But most of all, we look forward to the time when they can come home for a visit, for a walk through the garden, for summer evenings watching the sunset from the front yard, and being together. It’s been a long year already. Too long.

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