Small Worlds

I'm working in my tiny front yard. The violets—the ones I didn't think would make it—they were my mother's—are blooming now, in amidst the moss-covered rocks. The mother-of-thyme is beginning to take hold. The jasmine, cut back almost to its roots and trained up a solid trellis made from redwood from a water tower at the old Zen Center, is beginning to show new growth.

I have a corner metal stand a neighbor gave me; it was white, and yesterday it was primer grey, and today it is turning hunter green. I am not very good at projects—my garage will attest—but spray paint—my God, that I can do. The speed of the transformation inspires me. Sweep, sweep, and a different thing emerges. My index finger is sore. Things of wire have so many angles and dimensions. But when it is green, all green, it will replace the plastic table in the corner, and I will put stones and shells and planters on it.

The welcome mat I made of stones is still in progress. The glue didn't hold, so I made a frame and let the rocks run willy-nilly inside of it, as though you were making your way down to the river. People don't like it. They don't like the crunch and shift of the polished stones underfoot. It is amusing to watch them step over the mat, satisfying in a way. I don't mind picking the rocks back up and putting them back in the frame, it's my prayer each day, my simple labor—but I think it is not a long-term answer. I walked over those rocks in heels, the one time I wore heels this year, and nearly fell. So my free-running rocks will have to be contained, I guess. No answers today. Contemplation.

The man who helped me place the rocks, and make the bench from the three-hundred pound stone I found in the rockyard, is very ill now. His desperate embrace of alcohol, along with Hep C, is taking him farther and farther from people and the reality we try to live in; he moves closer, I think, to this ground. I can't talk to him any more. He was a poet, with words and with plants, and I have him here in this garden. He wouldn't like my fussy little hunter green rack. He doesn't like kitsch. He said he would come back and visit my garden, and maybe he will, and maybe we'll argue, with love, over little corner garden racks and shells in a disciplined Japanese garden.

—Kathleen McCall