The next number of posts, all titled Conversations on… come from email communications between a dear friend and me. With her permission, I am publishing excerpts from them because I feel they pertain to everything we’ve been discussing on the blog. Kate has been in the process of trying to figure out how to be a writer and still maintain her teaching job. She has very recently decided she must leave her job and fully embrace a “writing life.” At her request I’ve changed her name and am using initials for people she brings up. Those of you who have not read any of the earlier Conversation pieces, may want to go back to have a better understanding of Kate’s progress. You’ll find her story under the topic category, “Kate’s Story.” It’d be great if you all would join our conversation…
[Note: Kate is entering into a very challenging time. In part, she is in the process of losing her dear cat and companion of many years, Miles. This is sudden and painful for reasons we don’t want to share here, so that part of her struggle is only mentioned. But please know it colors everything else she must navigate].
[Note: The news of Miles’s sudden loss of health is the first problem Kate faces during the weekend].
The second devastating blow this weekend was that some woodchucks got into my garden and destroyed a huge swath of it, decimating the ENTIRE crops of kale, broccoli, and red cabbage, and a good amount of the beets. They even got my cucumbers, which I was going to pickle for the winter. They ate everything that was the strongest and healthiest and left the weaker things alone. Four months of backbreaking labor, not to mention the investment, went down the drain in a couple of days, and these were the crops that were to last through the fall and even into the winter for us.
And now I have these formidable adversaries—an entire family of them—to contend with. When I discovered the damage I was stunned and devastated, feeling like I am in some kind of horrible battle with nature, which is so far from the way I normally experience and exist in the world. Then, as if to rub that in further, the same day some vicious attacking bees came after me—literally chased me down, repeatedly taking dives at me—and didn’t stop until they stung me and forced me out of the garden altogether. I have always coexisted with everything in my garden; it has been a place where we all share the goodness that I nurture in that space. It’s always been that way. I just don’t know what is going on right now; being at odds this way feels terrible. Yesterday I spent money we didn’t really have on fox urine to put around the perimeter of the garden, and this morning it looks like it’s going to rain any minute, so that may not even last.
The only other option is trapping and relocating, very tedious and challenging to do when a whole family of fairly large animals is involved. And the relocating part is actually illegal in MA. If I had the wildlife person come, he’d be required to euthanize all of them, one by one. If I were to take this on myself, I’d have to spend a couple of weeks baiting and trapping daily, somehow—impossibly—keeping the neighbor’s dogs from disturbing the scene, secretly carting each animal off somewhere more than 5 miles away, knowing they’d do damage there too; then assuming I got them all, I’d have to destroy their burrow to prevent it from being repopulated. This sounds like a horrible procedure no matter what, and in the meantime they’re likely to wreck whatever is left of the garden.
So that’s my rather bleak situation which I have to share with you, sad to say. There’s not much I can do but try not to feel completely defeated and helpless, though that’s a challenge in itself. I’m sorry to be down in the dumps and not an especially good friend to you right now.
I will get through this one way or another. I very much appreciate your understanding and your kind, caring thoughts. This bad season will pass, as they all do.
I am at a total loss to create any understanding of the reasons life has turned so challenging all at once. You know me, I believe in messages and lessons from the universe. Miles’s situation fits into my belief system better, hard as it is, in terms of what lessons are being presented—but the garden, I just don’t know. All I’m getting from both is the message, “let go.” Does this make any sense? I’m so very sorry it’s all gone so bad. I know how discouraging that can be. However, just because you are in challenging times does not make you anything less than a good friend to me, so please waste no energy going there.
I know. It does seem strange and unclear. I don’t know how to read all this; it’s not in my system either. But maybe you’re right about learning to let go. I guess I’ll just keep listening. My daughter, who is an accomplished gardener, said to me this morning that when gardening one must always be ready to let go because unexpected disappointments and heartbreaks happen every year. Meanwhile, while I was sitting on the porch writing my morning pages I saw a woodchuck in my garden, despite all the fox urine I put out just yesterday! Clearly I need to go the trapping route. I then went out to buy a trap. Yet another expense! But that’s a lot better than having someone come out and charge us hundreds of dollars to trap AND KILL them.
I spent yet MORE money having some of my photos printed up, and as soon as I finish this message I am going to put them in the studio so I can be surrounded by the images of things and places that make me happy and inspire me. I’m trying to follow through as best I can on the Artist’s Way work, doing my pages religiously each day, but I admit that this week feels like a complete loss already. My heart is elsewhere. Just one of those inevitable moments of discouragement. Once again I am being reminded how vulnerable I still am. I do hope I toughen up soon! I’m accustomed to being always the tough little spitfire, full of determination to do anything I set my mind to. This feels very different; I’m still working on understanding this new kind of vulnerability, and the self-care required for the not-yet-healed me, and learning to give myself space and time.
To be continued…
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Love to you all,