After writing, editing and self-publishing three erotic novels in the last six months of 2013 and draining my muse, I decided to take a short sabbatical the first of January, walk away from my computer and whip my neglected yard back into shape. My gardener hadn’t returned to pull weeds since October, and the undergrowth was overgrown in the front and the back.
I could have hired someone else, but after years of me training, Leo knew which plants I treasured, recognized which ones were weeds and even hugged me on my down days, the kind of guy you enjoy having around. I didn’t have time to train someone new, but the weeds were knee high in back, almost as bad in front where a colorful display of drought-resistant plants native to southern California stops traffic each spring.
It would take me two weeks tops to complete the task, I thought, and dropped to my knees on the damp soil I’d watered the day before to weed. I love to garden. When I was growing up my mother grew, cut and arranged her flowers for the church altar, and K-Mart sold the tomato plants and petunias my father grew in his green house, so I came by my love of sinking my hands in rich soil naturally, and my abhorrence of weeds.
Two weeks tops.
I was barely into the second week of weeding when one of our daughters was hospitalized. Showering, dressing and visiting with her for two weeks virtually nipped my gardening in the bud. Then she was released to recuperate with us for three more weeks while outside, the weeds continued to grow.
I’d just finished weeding the front slope and was about to tackle the back yard when the off/on switch on my computer tower tanked and it had to be replaced.
While upstairs loading software onto my new tower our computer tech looked down on the flower beds in back and said, “I like your back yard. It’s rustic looking.”
I was horrified. Neglected? Yes, but rustic? Our yard had always been a showplace where a garden railroad wound through the miniature plants and villages, but as I too glanced down I realized I’d been closing my eyes to the deteriorating landscape to allow me to write free of guilt.
No longer content with a ‘rustic’ back yard, I began ripping out the abandoned track for the garden railroad and tossing warped farm houses, train stations and water towers unable to withstand the hot California sun.
The back yard needed renovating, and I was determined to do the job, even if it would involve moving numerous wheelbarrows full of dirt.
Fast forward to early April. Stepping stones once used to support railroad ties now wind past a new herb garden and a bed of amaryllis plants and end at a new rock garden just coming to life. My bed of miniature roses is bursting with blooms this spring, thanks to the layer of compost covering their roots. They’ve never bloomed so well.
I’ve discovered an unexpected benefit of my extended sabbatical. As each new plant unfurled, so did my Muse. Monday I’ll once again be seated at my desk, making interesting new characters come to life. Do you suppose my next heroine will like to garden?