Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Such a Beautiful Summer

I am thoroughly enjoying my gardens this summer -- seeing the vibrant colors of the flowers, being able to kneel down on the Earth and care for the plants, and simply relaxing to read or meditate outside, lying down on a small folding cot that was taking up space in the basement.

The cardinal flowers are now in full bloom, with their brilliant red blossoms that are even redder than a cardinal with wings. The richness of their color is totally mesmerizing. And the snakeroot, with their long stalks of white flowers, up to 8' tall, add contrasting color and height to the garden. The day lilies are just about finished blooming; the roses are starting their second crop of blossoms; the phlox are in full bloom -- whites, pinks, reds, purples, pinks with red centers, and purples with white centers. The black-eyed susans (yellow rudbeckia) are so numerous that they add cheerful color all over the yard, and the sweet peas continue to open their flowers, surprising me with occasional white blooms amongst the pink.

Last summer this time, I was just learning to walk again, and I rarely made it outside into the garden. With a collapsed spine, there was little strength in my back bones and muscles, and each day I would walk with the walker around the inside of the house. My daughter measured with a tape measure the circuit of the downstairs -- the distance from my recliner to the hall to the bathroom to the kitchen, the dining room, and then back to my chair in the living room. Over all, a distance of 65 feet, which meant that to go 1 mile I would walk 81 loops around the downstairs.

I remember when the visiting nurse came to the house in early August last summer to check out the set-up for me -- asking me to show here where the bathroom was, where I would sleep, making sure that there were no rugs for me to trip on, and watching me move. As I walked with the walker to the bathroom, she said to me "You're walking this slowly to be careful, right?" And I remember answering, "No, actually this is the fastest I can walk."

So I began walking loops by the 5's and 10's. I tried in those first few weeks of August last summer to walk at least 1/2 mile per day, or 40 loops. As I got stronger, some days I would walk 40 loops in the morning, and another 40 in the evening. And sometimes I would lose count. The actual number of loops was not important -- what was important to me was that I was feeling stronger and getting stronger day by day.

After all, I had an important goal -- my daughter was getting married at the end of August last summer, and I wanted to help walk her down the aisle, and also to dance at her wedding. So I HAD to get stronger. And I learned that having a goal and working toward that goal, no matter how challenging, contributes enormously to healing.

And last summer and all last year I had no doubt that I would regain my strength and the full use of my body, but I had no idea how long it would take. And I still don't know how long it will take, even 1 year later. But I am blessed to be happy and healthy, and I am grateful to be alive. And I am willing to do what it takes. Especially when it includes being able to spend time in my gardens.

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