This week, the sun finally returned, and it was glorious. I spent three mornings in a row working in our yard, reveling in the glory that is morning gardening on a mild, sunny day: getting my hands in the dirt, feeling sweat trickle down the small of my back, knowing that at night my body is going to be the right kind of tired.
I spent the first morning releasing root-bound plants from their pots. They reminded me of my life before. Before this marriage, this home, days filled with this kind of work. After freeing the plants from their clay prisons, I put them directly into the ground, where their roots will have room to roam, to weave themselves into soil I have amended with compost. Isn’t it funny how garbage and shit is a thing that can help flowers grow taller and bloom brighter, filling in their leggy stems with glossy leaves?
This weekend Cane and I celebrated our second anniversary. That seems a silly milestone, a pittance of time, a meaningless marker in the story we’re living. We have known each other for more than 20 years, and I don’t know how to measure our time together, how to measure us. There have been so many iterations and mutations of us. I cannot remember when I first met him and cannot say when we first became a couple. I mean, I can give you a year, but the line of crossing over from one thing to the other was fuzzy, and now drawn so long ago that it’s become quite faded. Even I can’t see it clearly. Years after that, there were the years we weren’t a couple but were still friends. Still loved each other. We were each still the person the other called when they really needed a person. Later, we became a couple again, but again I cannot give you a date that a line was crossed. It was something we grew back into tentatively. With all that, we were not legally married until two years ago. I want to say that, perhaps, an anniversary is about a lack of fuzziness–that it the marker of a clear line between one state of togetherness and another–but, even after we crossed that line we did not live together as husband and wife. That did not happen until several months after we became husband and wife.
So, the official anniversary seems a bit of a contrivance, but we marked it anyway. It was a good excuse to treat ourselves to our favorite things: walks, naps, good food, long talks, gardening, time at home together.
The traditional second anniversary gift is cotton, which brings to mind bed linens or fine stationery. We decided to buy ourselves plants for the garden. Close enough, we think. Cotton is a plant growing in the ground before we transform it to meet our needs. We bought herbs, strawberries, native perennials, and annuals: flavor, sustenance, longevity, and bright, fleeting color.
Friday was one of my favorite days of the year: Power-washing day. Every spring there is a day when we bring the power-washer out to clean the backyard patio and sidewalk, and this year it was Friday, the third day in a row of morning gardening.
For some reason, this year, before I began, I told myself that maybe the patio didn’t even need washing. It didn’t look very dirty. Maybe just in a few spots. Then I began, and I could see how wrong I’d been.
This is the thing I love about white space: How it helps us see. It’s only when I create white space on the patio that I can fully appreciate the story winter has written on our home. As I twirled the water nozzle over the concrete canvas, making designs, I thought about all the things for which white space is essential: poems, graphic design, architecture. A garden, a marriage, a life. I thought about how, sometimes, I love white space for what it reveals, for what it shines a light on, and other times I love it for itself. There are times when the clear blank space–not the dark matter it weaves itself through–is the thing of beauty, is the art, is the point of it all.