Friday, January 9, 2009

Taprooted in Our Little Acre

I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day - I have many - and Gail of Clay and Limestone posed the question, "What taproots you to your garden?" At first, I wondered what she meant, but as I worked my way down her post, I knew that I'd already thought about this long before she brought up the subject. She merely put a poetic spin on it.

As gardeners, we know what a taproot is. Many times as Romie is helping me dig and transplant something from one place to another (or I'm helping him), he'll say, "We need to be sure to get the taproot or it won't live." While that may or may not be true, the taproot runs deep and it's hard to remove the entire plant. It's as if the plant is sending the message that it doesn't want to go anywhere because it's doing just fine where it is, thankyouverymuch.

A few years ago, I had a recurring dream - a nightmare, really - in which we sold our house, bought a fixer-uper, then halfway through the fixing-up, I missed my old house and wanted it back. Of course, someone else owned and was living in MY house and didn't want to give it back to us. I couldn't blame them. I liked my house, too, and I really wanted it to be ours again. I started crying uncontrollably, my heart broken. A couple of times, I actually woke up sobbing.

Wonder what a dreamologist would do with that.

Eventually, I stopped having that dream. But it presented a very real question to myself. What would happen when the day actually came that I did have to move from this house? Romie and I have talked about whether we want to live here when we become unable to care for it ourselves. It's not a particularly large house, but neither is it small. And the property is an acre in size, with considerable gardens on that acre.

The gardens that are now known collectively as Our Little Acre have evolved over time, as most gardens do. They were created in bits and pieces as time, money, and energy allowed. As is the case of anything we put sweat equity into, there lives a little bit of our heart also. In fact, I can think of nothing on this property that was purely created by us (and God, of course) other than the gardens.

Are they just a collection of plants growing? They are that, but they are much more. If you come to visit the gardens, I will happily give you the in-depth tour (whether you want that one or not) where I give you the history and anecdotes about how this came to be the way it is, why I planted that there, and will even tell you about past plants no longer growing there. Every plant has a story, and it is in the telling of these stories that gives the clues as to why I am taprooted in my garden.

There are general reasons, too.

Our children grew up here. It's the only home they ever had until they left for college. I can remember the day that Romie and I were working in the garden together when Kara was two years old and I was pregnant for Jenna. A storm was fast approaching and I was hurrying to get the strawberries picked. Kara was on the perimeter and every little bit, I would throw a strawberry to her. She'd toddle over and pick it up and stick it in her mouth. As soon as she swallowed it, she'd say, "More!"

Scenes of Jenna going for rides in the wheelbarrow as Romie used it for yard work play through my mind. She grew up as his shadow, taking to yard and garden work like a fish to water. Even now, she'll get the mower out in the summer when she's here for a visit if the yard looks as if it could use a cutting.

I grew up near here, too, just three miles away. This is 'my' country and I know it well. I learned about our clay soil from my parents. Before I even considered gardening, I knew what a frustration it was to try and grow things in it, except for corn, wheat and soybeans. Our small town was home to a clay tile factory, for goodness' sake. Mom says we should be making pottery, not growing flowers.

Over the past few years, first with help and guidance from my mom, and later through research of my own, I have learned to tame that mucky stuff and turn it into something in which plants like to grow and thrive.

There are the individual plants, shrubs, and trees that we acquired in a unique way or were gifts for special occasions. How could I ever leave the Peolac? Or the pine tree that I carried home from Maine in my suitcase in 1979 that has grown to be taller than our two-story house?

What about the Buckeye tree that Mom and Dad bought for us to plant when Kara was born in 1980? My grandma turned 94 the day after Christmas - could anyone else know what the Japanese Maple she thought I "needed" and bought for me in 2006 is worth to me?

So many passalongs - the 'Dawn' Hosta from Kim, the Trollius from my friend Alison (whose plant is from her sister, who got hers from Monticello), the Flame Grass from Sue, the Iris from my next-door neighbor, and countless trees, shrubs, and perennials from Mom. Those things couldn't possibly mean as much to someone else as they do to me.

A tree once grew tall at the north edge of the vegetable garden and then one day it died. We were sad, because Kara had brought the tiny pine sapling home from school when she was in the sixth grade. I couldn't bear to have Romie cut it down entirely, so he stripped the branches and left five feet of the trunk. That tree is now a colorful directional with a birdhouse on top, where each year baby birds get their start in life.

As is sometimes the case with gardens, they become the final resting place for beloved pets, and ours is no different. There lie numerous cats and pet rabbits, Iggy the iguana, Madeline the tarantula, Sal the salamander, Pip and Ella the parakeets, and most recently, our dog Simba. It's hallowed ground.

It was here, in this garden, on this acre of land, that I became a real gardener, carrying on the tradition of my mother and grandmother. My roots are in this county, this township, the very soil beneath my feet.

Ideally, it would be a wonderful and satisfying thing if one of our girls eventually lived here, but the chances of them being able to or even wanting to do that are slim at best. So one day, we will leave it to someone who may not want these gardens that we have given so much of to over the years. My dream has shown me that it will be painful, for we will leave a part of ourselves in the walls of this home and the soil surrounding it.

But for now, we continue to live and love and grow and nurture all that surrounds us. We are blessed to have been given charge of so much and we thank God for it all.

Small Town

Well I was born in a small town

And I live in a small town

Prob'ly die in a small town

Oh, those small communities

All my friends are so small town

My parents live in the same small town

My job is so small town

Provides little opportunity

Educated in a small town

Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town

Used to daydream in that small town

Another boring romantic that's me

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from

I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town

And people let me be just what I want to be

Got nothing against a big town

Still hayseed enough to say

Look who's in the big town

But my bed is in a small town

Oh, and that's good enough for me

Well I was born in a small town

And I can breathe in a small town

Gonna die in this small town
And that's prob'ly where they'll bury me...

~ John Mellencamp
Photo of taproot from Wikimedia Commons.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh Kylee, I got all misty eyed reading this heartfelt post about your taproot.

I wasn't surprised one bit reading it though. Love oozes out of every line you write about your family, home and of course your garden.

Rose said...

Kylee, This is such a moving piece of writing! So many people nowadays move so frequently that they don't really put down roots. But I can relate to your feelings: when you live in the same place for so many years, it's hard to leave all those precious memories behind. My father is 83 and still lives in the house he was born in, so don't worry about leaving yours behind for a long time!

Connie said...

A beautiful post, Kylee!

Aiyana said...

Wonderful post. The photos of your garden and plants are beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I think about this all the time! This is a first home for my husband and I, and even if we add on, we know we'll have to move on eventually, as the house is just very small. We do have almost an acre (Our Little Almost Acre?) though, and we've added all the gardens, fixed the lawn, and generally given the house a big dose of love. I even pick some things now based on the fact that they're easy to care for, in the hopes that when we're not here in 25 years and we pass by the house, my flowers will still be thriving. I also have a lot of passalongs from my mother, some that started with my grandmothers that will be coming with me whenever we move, as they're now irreplaceable.

And my parents' house is much like yours - until college I had lived only there, so the thought of that someday not being my homebase when they are gone just breaks my heart. But when that happens (hopefully a long, long time from now), I will most certainly be clearing those gardens out and taking them with me :)

Wayne Stratz said...

I too have had passing thoughts about who will own what I think I own now and how will they know how to maintain it........

But what I try to focus on most of the time is well described in your words...

" We are blessed to have been given charge of so much and we thank God for it all."

Unknown said...

Kylee, I've read some inspired and heartwarming posts from you in the two years or so that I've been visiting Our Little Acre, but this is definitely the most gorgeous and loving tribute to a home that I've read online. It made me decidedly misty. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with all of us, yet again. And belated Happy New Year, of course, to you and Romie and the rest of your family.

Dave said...

Great post! It's clear to see why you are so attached to your little acre. The place has grown up with you. Your family and the gardens are intertwined into something very special!

Kylee Baumle said...

Lisa ~ What lovely things for you to say. I'm glad some of that love comes through. I just can't help it. :-)

Rose ~ You're right - people do move around a lot, it seems. I know the plants and the trees and such are just things, as is the house itself. What's more important are the memories of the good times and no one can take those from us.

Wow...83 and in one house his entire life! How many people his age can say that?

Connie ~ Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Aiyana ~ Thanks, Aiyana!

Jennah ~ I try not to dwell on it, and maybe it's because I'm not ready to move from here that I feel this way about our home and gardens. Perhaps when the day comes, I'll be ready and know that such is the way of life. After all, home really is where your heart is, and mine is sitting right here beside me on the couch right now. :-)

I would imagine whenever we leave here that there will be things that I take with me from the gardens.

I remember when my parents sold the only home I could remember (I lived in it from age 3-17), it was an emotional thing for me. Not for them, they said, but it was for me. I think the longest they ever lived in the same house was 17 years. We've been here for 31.

Wayne ~ It's a sobering thought, isn't it, Wayne? In reality, we are but a blip in time ourselves, in the grand scheme of things. We just make the most of the time we have here and the things we're given.

jodi ~ Oh dear jodi, thank you for your lovely words. It's so good to see you posting and commenting. I pray for you, that you will heal quickly. You know me pretty well by now, I think, so that's probably why you understood this post so well. *hugs*

Dave ~ That's exactly right, Dave!

IBOY said...

Very nice Kylee; one of the best garden blog posts I've read in quite a while.

Helen/patientgardener said...

What a lovely thoughtful and well written post. I am quite envious of all your memories. We have moved 4 times and I think we will move at least once more before I find the house and garden I really want.

greenlegs80 said...

I love, love, LOVE this post! I must say that I hate the thought of ever having to sell "our" house. It's probably at that time that I'll have to convince Adam that sending our kids to Wayne Trace might not be a bad idea. =) ...if you know what I mean.

IlonaGarden said...

That is just lovely. You struck such a chord and your photographs are testimony to your love of a garden.

Gail said...

Dear Kylee,

What a absolutely beautiful post...I loved everything about it. Walking through the years with you was an honor...You and Romie have created a beautiful garden, but more than that you've made a wonderful home and life. I hope it never gets to be too much for you both! Thanks for the link...gail

Kylee Baumle said...

Don ~ Thank you for saying that. I take that as a huge compliment.

patientgardener ~ I can't hardly believe we've lived here for over 31 years. It has gone so fast. I hope you will find your taprooted home soon!

Kara ~ I knew you would love this one. The walls and yard of this home are dotted with so many memories of both you and Jenna as you both grew into the lovely young women you are today.

Ilona ~ Thank you!

Gail ~ When I read your post, these thoughts came to me and I knew I had to write more than I could put into a comment. Thank you for the inspiration that allowed me to release my feelings of love for this place and why I have them. I, too, hope we can live here for a long time to come.

Kara said...

And this is why your gardening blog is my favorite.

I love the daisy picture. :)

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I really enjoyed your post. I especially love your second photo and the bird one.

Louise Hartwig said...

Nice story. Maybe it is time to do another book. Pictures are sooooooo pretty. Like the John Melancamp song.

Unknown said...

Kylee- You might think that it's kind of funny, but I felt similarly about the garden we left behind. I left for my husband's job and it seemed that God was telling us it was time to move on, but it was hard to leave. After not being able to sell it for so long I actually went back to rescue some of my old plants that looked a bit pathetic and neglected. I hope that they will be able to grow and thrive here after being neglected for so long.

What a very touching story. I want to be able to develop a taproot and stay here a very long time.

Shady Gardener said...

Kylee, This post is wonderfully done. Your look-over-the-garden photo takes my breath away, it's so beautiful. And what a treasure it is to think of the gardening heritage you've received through your mom and grandmother. You definitely are taprooted! And God is good! :-)

Corner Gardener Sue said...

As I was reading this, I was thinking the same thoughts that people have already written in your comments. I think this may be the best blog article I've ever read! Awesome!


MyMaracas said...

This is such a beautiful post. Your love really shines through. And I know how you feel. There were so many memories in the garden of the house where I grew up, and it was so hard when the place passed out of the family.

Even now, in our new place, where I haven't even started gardening, I know it will hurt to leave it when the time comes. And it will come, as it is not an easy place to keep up.

All we can do is enjoy the time we have, and store up memories for the "winter" days to come.

Brenda Pruitt said...

This post is the most beautiful and poignant thing I've read in a long time. Very, very special indeed. Your heart is in that place. Your soul dwells there. I so hope you get to stay there for a very long time to come! I can't imagine still having the place where my children grew up and all the memories that would bring!

Kylee Baumle said...

Kara ~ On my goodness. I take that as a supreme compliment. Thank you so much for being a faithful reader. There are so many wonderful blogs out there!

gardenerprogress ~ I'm glad you enjoyed it. I love that bird photo, too. I was so excited that day when I managed to capture her poking her head out!

Mom ~ I've got an idea for another book. I'll have to tell you about it. Yeah, that song is one of my favorites. It just speaks to me of my own life so much! You too, I'm sure.

Cinj ~ I don't blame you for rescuing some of your plants! No doubt there are many here that will go with me if I go somewhere ever that has a place to plant things.

Shady ~ Oh my...God is too good to me. Really. I used to say (when I was in my 20s) that I probably was going to die a horrible painful death, because my life had been so wonderful. Since then, there have been bumps in the road, but I can still say I've had a very wonderful life. I don't think my death necessarily will be anything horrible - it will be what it is, but one thing is for sure, if God were to take me tonight, I will thank Him for allowing me to have so much, and not just material things.

Sue ~ Oh my! What a nice thing for you to say! Well, I am glad you enjoyed it. It was pretty easy to write. That's how it is when you write from the heart, isn't it?

MyMaracas ~ Thank you. I love your last sentence. It's so true!

Brenda ~ Thank you for your beautiful words. I love this place - it's home. Romie and I both love living here, working here, and playing here. We're very fortunate!

Wayne Stratz said...

didn't mean to sober you up ;')

on the way to this spot I passed your red stemmed dogwood photo. I have seen them around here and like what I have seen.

Kylee Baumle said...

Wayne ~ They are wonderful shrubs!

Unknown said...

Ooh! Ooh! John Mellencamp. Fellow Indiana small town boy, like me!
Great great post.
Very well written, and from the heart. The very best kind.

Kylee Baumle said...

Rick ~ Have you seen Mellencamp in concert? So, so FUN!
Glad you enjoyed the post. This was one that just came pouring out without much effort.

mamasan said...


I came to visit you this morning to give my thoughts a warm, nurturing, earthy place to rest.

You see, our own seven much-loved, much gardened acres are being threatened by a sewer expansion in our small city. The new station is named for a new sub-division that will come, but it is our home and property and way of life, not that of the new sub-division, that will be marred in great excess. We are caught between power and power, and neither party seems to care. It is much like waiting for a home invasion we know is coming.

So I came here so very early this morning seeking a gentle diversion, not knowing that I would be directed to a post that could, with a few changes, have flowed from my own heart.

You so understand the love of land, and how we become not just connected to it, but an actual part of it. And how the living of life and the raising of a family can bind us to a home and place by memories that live inside us evermore.

They see us as a field to cross, nothing more. They plan to tuck the station just behind us, out of their sights, but always within ours.

Reading your beautiful post of last January, you more than validate my feelings and bring tears of deep knowing and understanding.

The man holes they propose seem destined to be dug deep within my own heart. I do not know how I will bear it. This is land hard won. There were many struggles to bring us to this day. But never once did we consider such a threat as this.

But I know there are others who feel about their homes as we do. And you, dear one, feel it wholly.

I thank you, from the whole of my heart, for the common ground.


A beautiful side note: Our girl was also born in 1980, our boy in 1982. Would love to know your wedding year. Ours was 1978.

May God Bless You, Kylee, and all those you touch, in 2010.

(I would understand completely if you decide that this is not a proper post)

Diana said...

You did make me cry. What a beautiful post about the growing of a garden and a lifetime of memories. I know what you mean about leaving pets and trees planted in memory. I drove past my old house this very week and saw the oak tree my son gave me when our beloved dog Sami died. Just wanted to look at it and peek at my garden, or what used to be my garden. Lovely sentiments about your special place. Thanks for sharing.

greenlegs80 said...

Home Sweet Home :) The descriptions, the emotions, everything in this nailed it. I love you!

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