Ten Square Feet

These are perhaps the last photographs from my little patch of happiness. Frost is forecast for tonight.

The process of photographing the same ten square feet for months (instead of my prior habit of photo safaris) has taught me a great deal about some of the art I love, like Monet’s “Water Lilies” and the “Gardens at Giverny.”

I’ve always wondered how he could keep going back to the same place, but finding more and more that captivated him.

Now, I understand that it requires a stillness and awareness I wasn’t previously capable of. The isolation of COVID forced me to breathe deeply of my own environment.

I’ve watched generations of cabbage butterflies play in my backyard. (They live for about three weeks.) In the spring there was one. Now, if you treated my backyard like a hidden-picture search, the number is about 5, and a number of new species have moved in.

In years past, I had a neglected bed of irises and black-eyed Susans planted by my son and a friend. They hid the scar left in the yard long ago by the children’s giant sandbox. The neighborhood chipmunk added a daffodil and sweet-autumn clematis.

This year, some daisies volunteered. I added a mixed bag of butterfly seeds and Canna from a friend. I let the weeds grow if they were flowering types.

After my husband’s faithful application of water, I had an oasis of happiness that would horrify a serious gardener, but delighted me.

The hummingbird is no longer afraid of me, and I’ve watched a bumblebee fall asleep. I often sit and read a book or take students’ phone calls where I can smell the clematis and look for today’s new blooms.

I’ve discovered that three weeks is a generation, ten square feet is a whole world, and gardens that would never grace a magazine cover are just as loaded with grace.

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