Monday, June 1, 2009

Mom's Garden

I took the boys over to my mom's house on Saturday night. My parents were at a wedding, and would be spending the night out of town. I needed to take care of the animals that night, and again on Sunday morning, so we just decided the easiest thing to do would be stay the night.

I had to go over Saturday morning and go through the routine with her. I scribbled notes about who got what, when, and made fun of her the whole time. Do you know she had a diabetic dog once? Yeah, the vet told her he wouldn't live another year. She gave that dog insulin injections, morning and evening, and he lived to be 12. All of her animals are 'the rejects' that didn't sell at the pet store, or needed a home under emergency situations. Her menagerie includes (but is certainly not limited to) a parrot that plucks its own feathers, a one-eyed dove, a morbidly obese lab, a cat with a bent tail, a neurotic donkey she rescued off a tv ad, a pony that was going to the glue factory (eight years ago....still kicking), a horse that is at least 30 years old and whose teeth have grown to such sharp points that he needs to practically be spoonfed, and a group of chickens who are in constant molt.

It took me seventy-five minutes, Sunday morning, to feed and water the animals. Everybody is on some special diet, including the goats which, cute as they are, require a bottle-feeding every morning, and the sharp-toothed horse that has a specialty gruel that needs to be prepared twelve hours in advance. All three dogs have different meals/portions and cannot eat together. The chickens need to be let out, but the goats will eat their chicken food (which makes them sick) so there is a tight schedule of who goes where. There are two kinds of hay and six different garbage cans of grain for the donkey, pony, and three horses. Nobody, I mean nobody, in that group has the same meal requirements. Do you know how many combinations there are in those 6 cans? It's mind boggling. I'm still not sure how many cats she current thinking is that there are three semi-domesticated cats (I had to make sure they were in at night by "shaking this bag of treats on the porch") and some number of 'barn cats' that may or may not make an appearance on any given day.

As crazy as I think she is (and she is, mark my words) I have to say I was quite touched when I stepped out of the back gate and into the meadow that leads to the horse corrals and hay barn. There is a path, no wider than 8 inches across, that is completely worn down to hard-packed dirt, that is the result of her daily (twice daily, minimum) treks to take care of her animals. She's been doing this for 35 years, in that same spot, and that path is like the evidence of her spirit, of who she is. She's retired now, and I know it gives her great joy to care for her animals, to tend to her farming chores. But, it was the same committment when she was raising three young children herself, and when she worked 70 hours a week as a small business owner...every day, and every night, rain or shine, sick or healthy, she made that trek. It sort of takes my breath away.

In order to recover from THE HORSE MENU, which took ten years off my life, I swear, I spent some time in the gardens. My mom has the most beautiful gardens. My dad makes them...the bones of them...and he is brilliant at making the perfect paths that lead to the sweetest little gates. You have to go through a half dozen precious gates and split-rail fences to get into the vegetable garden, and it just delights me to no end. My mom has the green-thumb, though, and there is every kind of garden you can imagine...fruit trees, veggie beds, a shade garden, a moss-and-fairy rock garden, a succulent and cactus patch, roses and wild never ends. She weeds them all by hand, and, it seems, tirelessly moves dirt, rocks, and pots to ever-evolving locations.

I've been doing a ton of work in our back yard (again), and spending time this weekend here in their world was just the inspiration I needed to get over the hurdle to the last big push!

Edited to Add: I talked to my mom on the phone, and she told me that my dad said she could get a miniature horse. You have got to be kidding me. Shoot me now.


  1. Picture's show your mom's passion for her gardens. Sheer beauty!!! I love beautiful gardens but hate gardening. Moose and Kelly keep their gardens so nice and I get to enjoy them. How lucky is that? My mom always had lovely gardens Daffodils were her favorite flower and now that she is gone every daffodil I see reminds me of her. Loved the story of feeding the animals. You should write books Mia.

  2. What a lovely tribute to your mother.

  3. you always make fun of me, yet in your heart you know, no matter what happens to any of you, i will make that same path to you and take care of you.

  4. I will ALWAYS have such great memories of hanging out at your parents house. It was always so full of love, no matter what your circumstance or how many legs you had... :)

  5. Mom, you know I'm not "making fun of you"'s a celebration! Of who you are! And when you get your miniature pony, who is blind in one eye, you know you will laugh too.. And if I learned anything from you (and I have!) it's how to make a 'path'.

  6. Betty ~ Whenever I see irises I think of my Grandma Dot! I love that. :) (And THANKS for the compliment!)

    Anon ~ Aw! Thanks!

    Tra ~ I TOTALLY thought of you when I was writing this! Remember that cockatoo, Peaches? And that (visiting) dog who snapped at you for trying to eat your own dinner?! It was always crazy over there. :)

  7. when are we moving to your mom's? I'm in.

  8. I only saw your parents place once, but I remember it was a very special place. It's really wonderful to hear you describe it with such love. I had a huge smile on my face as I read it. xoxo Maia