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  • Last evening I got an email from a dear friend who has cancer but it was not about her cancer it was about planting bulbs. As she does most things she ordered the bulbs with great care and knowledge. Each bulb was chosen for how it would look with its neighbor, The scent, the color, the timing described with visual imagination. Her watercolors, her bouquets reveal the virtuosity of her vision.

    When I arrived Judy was asleep in her comfortable recliner swaddled in afghans and fleece. She did not hear me come in. The old radio was playing music. I took her old lab with me out into the kitchen and waited of the other planters to arrive. We would four women. In a few minutes I heard Judy rousing and went to greet her. Soon another planter arrived but not before she told her latest dream. We gathered tools and I mixed bone meal into the soil mix as Judy sat near giving instructions. We found the box of bulbs and talked about their characteristics, all of us are gardeners, but this was Judy's planting and we let her describe in detail how we were to proceed. We took our treasures , soil and tools around front to a spot near her bedroom window where in spring the bulbs would get the required sunlight they required and be easily visible from her window - that is if she is there to see. This was the background thought on our minds, unspoken. It made this planting all the more sweet.

    First the bonemeal mix and then the tulips, which have been described exquisitely, ten inches down in the hole, a few inches of dirt and above, some squills dibbled in with my finger, the rest of the soil and a few cloves of garlic on top, not too many as they had to last for the entire planting. The garlic was to ward off the skunks who have a fondness for bonemeal but I got the feeling they might ward off other evil spirits lurking as well. I kept this to myself, but I said my prayers.This ritual was repeated through lilies and croci and giant snowdrops. I found one spot thick with worm castings and the soil turned beautifully under my hands. I could not help but exclaim tossing the dirt into the air as I turned it. I had brought gloves as always but soon my hands were deep and dark into the dirt . Our last planter arrived halfway through the task and we dug to the end as Judy tired from the company and engagement and emotion even seated on her garden chair. She is never passive at any task even now as she spends a lot of time in vivid dreams.
    Saturday I will pick up good carrots and cider for her from the farmers market. I brought her a book I thought she might like to read and she gave me two to pass on. Then weeks might go by again before I see her as her daughter comes from New Zealand and an old dear friend from Australia. It has been like this as she carefully protects her energy in order to get done what she wants and stalwartly maintains the holiness of her time. I dont know exactly what I mean by that, but I feel it and understand and respect it. We planted Spring today.
  • With each bulb I set a charm. The two rounds of aggressive chemo have not slowed the cancer. Spring is a full six months away. The bulbs are planted.
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