15 minutes a day

I have to admit it’s probably been a good thing that the cold weather lasted so long. It’s nice to have our new house settled and I wouldn’t have taken the time had the weather been nice. I would have been outside gardening.

Now that the weather is warming up, I feel completely free to go outside and work in the yard. As was with the house, though, it feels overwhelming and I want to retreat to my corner and whine. “This is hard. Why couldn’t I have kept my old yard? Why wouldn’t you let me bring my rocks?”

That feeling is calmed by my recent realization that this house is what I always said I wanted: a bigger house with not more stuff. Not only have I gotten that, but I had to get rid of a lot of furniture. It took me awhile to understand why it didn’t fit in this house that’s 1,000 square feet bigger. In our old house, I had every nook and cranny filled with pieces for storage.

Our new house has many closets, which can also be dangerous if not used mindfully. My in-laws had all sorts of storage in 6,000 square feet. When they downsized, my sister-in-law and I were cleaning out and every time we thought we were done one of us would find another drawer. It was enough to make a grown woman curse (and we did).

Still, starting over makes me want to cry. I sat out on the back patio of my old house in the mornings and my yard made me gasp it was so beautiful. I have to remind myself I created the backyard gardens in only a couple years, from the first corner rock garden to the last dry creek bed. I can make another beautiful space.

Also, the frame of mind that helped me finally settle our new house is the same one I need to create a new garden: it’s a different space and I can’t treat it the same. Believe me, I’ve been trying and coming up empty gloved every time. There is a grass bank that shoots off the patio that needs to come down. Or rather needs to be dug up and rebuilt into a rock garden.

I’ve been pining over the loss my dry creek bed from my old house (it wasn’t even a year old when we moved). I even warned the new owner (who appreciates the dry creek bed) that if rocks started disappearing in the night, it’s probably me. My husband assures me that since we’ve moved even deeper into volcano country that I will probably dig up my own rocks in the process of digging more flower beds. And indeed, the bank has birthed a few really nice ones.

One of our uncles told my sister a story. He was considering houses to buy and discounted one because there was a huge stump right in the driveway. His grandfather told him to buy it. My uncle couldn’t understand why he would want it, because it would be difficult to remove the stump. His grandfather offered to take it out for him. My uncle scoffed, “how would you manage that at your age?” His grandfather said he’d chop at the stump for 15 minutes every day and eventually the whole stump would be gone.

I’m viewing my yard with the same attitude. Though I want it to be exactly as I want it right now, it doesn’t have to be. I only need to spend 15 minutes a day on it and at some point, I’ll be sitting outside one morning, look up, and gasp.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in a neighborhood near you. You can read more of her writing on her website livingwithgleigh.com, or follow her on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh by Gretchen Leigh. Her column is always available at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Life section.