Something I strongly disliked as a youngster was mowing the lawn. As the only son in my family, there was no negotiation. On top of this, my mom insisted that the lawn be cut twice weekly in summer. I complained bitterly. I argued that once a week was enough but my parents wouldn?t budge.
One time while I was off playing hooky from this job, my mom pushed my older sister to get it done in my absence. Unfortunately, our next door neighbor?s 3-year-old son, Jimmy, was in the yard, and lost a toe to the blade of our gas powered lawn mower. I was blamed for the accident and felt guilty about it for years. By the time I reached high school I promised myself, ?I will always live in an apartment where I will never have to cut grass. Further to this, I care absolutely nothing for a yard or gardening. I loathe the whole thing and can?t wait to be permanently free of it!?
I kept my promise for many years. I always lived in apartments and never did any yard work or gardening. I was content that in keeping my resolution, I escaped from a major source of unhappiness in my youth. However, in 2002, I had the opportunity to move from a tiny second floor apartment, to a spacious ground floor apartment with a back porch and patio. I loved the apartment but was very unsure about the back lawn and the flower beds. I knew that if I ignored them there would be quite a mess. After some reflection, I took the ground floor apartment. Because I moved in on the first of August, there wasn?t too much to do the first year. I bought a rake and did clean up the autumn leaves of the huge Manitoba Maple tree whose boughs extended out over my yard. In spring, I began noticing certain loyal perennials appearing. In particular, the peonies were awesome. I cut the lawn when needed. I bought a lilac tree and a hydrangea bush giving me spring and late summer blooming in lavender and white respectively. To fill in where there was no blossoming I bought annuals like impatience and cosmos. I found myself every morning having my coffee on the porch and then strolling through the yard to see what had changed. In the evening I could hardly wait for the series of garden lanterns I?d installed to illuminate. How magical it was to see them progressing through the flower beds.
Within a few years, I knew exactly what bloomed when from early spring crocuses to late autumn chrysanthemums. Also fuelling me was the fact that beside me on the east was a lesbian named Tel? who gave me all sorts of advice as well as cuttings. To the west was David, a master gardener who cultivated a magnificent English cottage garden. He would have me over for afternoon tea at which time he?d share gardening secrets. To his west was Luigi who cultivated a spectacular garden which he was very passionate about. Luigi gave me vine cuttings that created beautiful privacy barriers where I wanted them. As fate would have it, both David and Luigi were gay! Add to this that my new partner, Rich, had years of gardening experience and an amazing backyard oasis in Brooklyn, New York.
As you can tell I did a complete 180 degree turnaround from, ?I will never, ever?,? to ?Gardening is my number one passion!? This particular experience has led me to place trust in the caveat, ?Never say never!? I believe that when you insist too much, you push the pendulum in one direction to the extreme. With all the energy that it takes to hold it there, it is inevitable that one day, you let go and the pendulum naturally swings to the opposite extreme. There you?re face to face with what you swore you?d never do or be. You not only confront it, you get to embrace it, and savor it, if you?re lucky.
I once read an interview with the pop legend Darryl Hall of the famous duo Hall and Oates whose ?blue eyed soul ? music I?ve always loved. Hall said that he could be with a man sexually but just didn?t choose to express that way. For me this indicates a pendulum at rest, in the middle. However, the moment you have someone over-insisting, swearing, that he could never, ever do something, it?s almost certain that the pendulum, one day, will powerfully swing to the opposite extreme, and we all know what will happen then! ;- )