Four years ago I lost (I thought) daughter and garden in one week. Not quite a tragedy (of the dust, dusty), of course. Not really. And not really lost. And not forever (what have you lost?), not even for now, but it seemed real and it seemed forever. It seemed something had been lost that would never now be found (this was not a garden). It seemed the only possible now would be a lesser restitution (another new premise) and stunted restoration (fitting stone).
Of course this wasn't just about the garden (a fiction: Not about the Garden).
I had been left, in place of roses bordering a circle of clover and tiny pink daisies and soft grass, with dust and dust and more dust. There was also a shallow pit dug by tractor in the middle. Rain turned it all to clay. More rain filled the pit. The pit never drained away. It was ugly and dispiriting. I closed the door and found other ways to work. Avoided the garden that was no garden anymore. The next summer we had a muddy square pond in the middle of weeds. Algae grew. Mosquitoes bred.
Then someone threw their extra goldfish (8 for $1) in. Some died. Winter came. The pond froze over. But the next spring there were three fish still alive.
A sprinkling of crushed limestone settled the suspended clay. The goldfish ate the algae, ate the mosquito spawn. The clover grew back.
This spring, YoungSon in a sudden frenzy of self-inspired aesthetic industry re-dug the pit and rounded its edges, lined it with river rock. Now when I walk up the re-built rock walkway - an unlooked-for flicker of red-gold and watery movement.
What is lost is gone. That hasn't changed.
And no matter what I do, it won't ever be the same. The soil is hard and stubborn to my shovel. So many plants never pushed themselves back up out of burial and I'm still unearthing flagstones scattered everywhere. The work of repair moves discouragingly slow. There are so many others things to do. But native red-flowering currant has seeded itself in one shady spot. Blue elderberry volunteers just beyond. Wild strawberries spread.
I never planned this pond. But I find myself going out to sit beside it, to watch the flicker and flow. A heavy peace settles in on me watching the fish move through their water like embodied thought. Slow fluttering of fins, suspended, and then a tail-flick and darting disappearance.
Better than flowers?
Who can compare the best before to what's best now?