Thinking Outside the Barracks

This morning it hit me: this will be the last gardening season for us in Ohio.

About a year from now, hopefully we’ll be wrapping things up here in the waiting room, and heading south.  It seems like an interminably long time, but much of the next year will be busy winding down, downsizing/packing up, and house-hunting.  I won’t be putting in another spring garden here.

Hopefully the next tenants or owner will enjoy what I left to them, but I doubt it.  Landscaping and gardening is not a big priority in this working-poor military town, with all the transience and turnover.  It’s basically an extended barracks.  The couple of neighbors who have complimented me on my garden strike me as sad, unmotivated people who are just existing until they too move out.  They seem perplexed that I even bother.

Sometimes I think the very atmosphere here, or certainly the ground at least, is toxic to plants and life in general.  We hope just getting out of here (hmm, seeing a pattern!) into a different culture and surroundings will be healing for both us and our future garden.  At least it keeps us going, looking forward to something better.  For now, gardening and nature photography (such as it is) are my therapy.

It’s a weird time of life, post-employment, whether intended or reluctant.  When you’re working, sometimes you wish you were doing something more productive or meaningful for yourself, but at least you know what you’re supposed to be doing when; it gives structure to your life.  Or income, at any rate.

When you find yourself prematurely retired due to circumstances beyond your control (in my case having to go caregive indefinitely out-of-state), with no prospects of getting back into the job market or having an adequate income, it becomes a challenge figuring out how to make the best use of whatever time you have left, rather than just fill it or kill it.

It’s like being in a waiting room, either making productive use of the constraint, or just wasting time.  The latter makes me crazy.  I want to use this time wisely, and make a difference, not just for myself, but for something I care about.  Still working on this dilemma.  When I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know.

Meanwhile, gardening keeps me semi-sane, and helps keep the chaos at bay.  I take a blank slate and create beauty and natural order.  I capture images of nature surviving our human stupidity and taking back what’s hers.  I take what’s humble and modest, and turn it into something pleasing.  I try to keep myself in proper perspective within the bigger picture.


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