May 30, 2011

The Rewards of Aging #1: "Old Rocking Chair's Got Me" or... Does It? Come See My Garden!

Here's the back porch rocking chair where I spend much of my time spring, summer, and fall:

And here's what I see on one side:

And looking straight ahead this is this view:

And here's the view from the back of the yard looking toward the porch:

And in addition to the view, I love the sound of the koi pond waterfall:

Parkinson's is what led me to throw myself into gardening in a big way. I'd always puttered around in the garden, but pre-Parkinson's my first choice on a nice day would be to get on my bike and take off. With Parkinson's came balance and stamina issues that forced me to abandon lengthy bike rides.

Gardening has filled the gap. And I've become as obsessive/compulsive about it as I was about biking. That's my nature.

I'm sure I get as good a workout from gardening as I would from going to a gym. And I have something to show for my efforts when the plantings take hold. I can completely lose track of time and shed all my worries and concerns.

A favorite old-age memoir is Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill, one of the best book editors of all time. Athill wrote this memoir in her 89th year. She deals with old age and approaching death with bravery, humor and honesty.

She devotes a chapter to gardening, which she says continues to give her great pleasure. While she has had to turn over many of the gardening chores to hired help, she describes the rewards of gardening:

My present treasure is a sophisticated plantswoman with whom I have a delightful time choosing what to plant where: to me the part of gardening that is the most fulfilling.  And still, each time I'm there, I manage to do at least a little bit of work myself: tie something back, trim something off, clear some corner of weeds, plant three or four small plants, and however my bones may ache when I've done it, I am always deeply refreshed by it.  Getting one's hands into the earth, spreading roots, making a plant comfortable -- it is a totally absorbing occupation, like painting or writing, so that you become what you are doing and are given a wonderful release from consciousness of self.  And so, for that matter, is simply sitting in your garden, taking it in.
 Yep. That says it all.


Margie said...

Your garden is beautiful. It looks like it is such a relaxing and peaceful place. Your talents are one of many.
God Bless,

Kathy Muller said...

What a treat to see these tender photos, John.  It appears that you are talented as a photographer as well as a gardener.   Your rocking chair, the house from below, and the pond - those all belong in an album.

I read the Diana Athill book about a year ago.  Thanks to you and my newborn interest in gardening, I will give it another look.


John Schappi said...

Thanks, Kathy. I was disappointed in the photo of the garden taken from the rocking chair.  I was hoping the goldfinches on the thistle feeder would show up more clearly.

I'm thinking of doing a post in a few days on my two favorite plants, one old, one new. Wanna guess?

John Schappi said...

Thanks, Margie. One problem with enjoying the garden and relaxing on the porch is that both are in this swamp on which we built the nation's capital. It's still May and the temp and humidity were both in the mid-90's today. I'd been hoping for a porch bridge game this afternoon.  No way!

Terry Gibson, Author said...

Hi John.  I just stumbled upon this blog and I'm really glad I did. I can hardly wait to read more of it. I so appreciate your words and sharing what you do.  Good one, John.  @bookmark_terry:twitter