Wednesday, April 2, 2014

photographs and found treasures

The last few boxes surrounding my desk in the basement are in the process of being unpacked. Finally.
Most of what's left are boxes of photos that need to be dealt with properly, organized, and put in albums - I've slowly been compiling everything for that project..., which I'm actually really looking forward to doing.
Family suddenly has a whole new context, and our photographed story from my father as a child in Holland, my mother as a kindergarten teacher, my sister and I growing up, our weddings, our children... is something worth telling properly.

This morning was spent sulking, feeling sorry for myself, emotional, unable to even look at Finn's photos. I miss him so much. Some times(days, hours, minutes, moments) I'm able to hold it together, others ..not so much. I think I'm learning when to take a step back... let the grief do what it has to do.

There are times I can't read other grief stories, I can't bear how much I relate to them.., other times I can't tear myself away. Today I found my way to Mitchell's Journey, unable to look away from his father's story.
He speaks and writes beautifully of his son, but most important to me is the photographic story - and what he says about the importance of being a "paparazzi" in your children's lives.

I felt terribly guilty for dangling my iPhone over Finn from the moment we were reunited after his birth. The convenience of being able to take decent photos with a gadget that fits in the palm of my hand was too easy, and even more easy to share instantly with family and friends. I kept telling myself to live in the moment and put the camera down, but I didn't.
How grateful am I now that I have dozens of photos of him - photos in every outfit, at every time of day - and night, in the sunshine, with the dogs, by the fire, outdoors, indoors..., I captured every minute I could. Without those photos now - where would I be? From his growth inside me, to his precious ten+ days, I have it all on digital files, saved forever.

(Due to the mother-daughter code photos shared of Hannah must be approved by her - and for the most part they haven't been since "teen" was added to her age. ...but that doesn't mean I don't take them, save them, and have them all at hand.)

Chris Jones' story is important for another reason - as a father's journey through grief. His words are poignant, thoughtful and not held back by any tough exterior. I think it's often hard for father's to express themselves; Rohan has said a number of times how difficult it is to 'be the man' in this situation, hold it all together.. ( those early days I don't know how he did it, while I lay motionless). So much of child loss and parental grief is focussed on mothers and how mothers cope. A father's perspective isn't something we've come across much, and certainly not one this beautiful.

Among the photographs and boxes of important things I don't know what to do with, I found some odds and ends of my mother's, some she intentionally left for me with messages scribbled on the envelopes, others just random things I ended up with - notes, drafts, notebooks she kept records in (she kept records of everything).
In a faded grey folder I came across a photocopy of pages from Dinah Shields & Edwina von Baeyer's book A Beginner's Guide to Gardening in Canada.

(von Baeyer's Rhetoric and Roses and Garden Voices being among my favourite garden reads..)

My mother's handwriting (in red pen - she must have been grading papers at the time) dates it 1992 ...
I know in the early 2000's she took a course or two in personal landscaping, hoping to do something pretty with her new construction home & garden - the work for which was put in me as hard labourer. She still didn't have a clue, but her determination was expressed clearly through likes and dislikes over my work. I am still being punished for planting purple (her least favourite colour) delphiniums in her front garden. (I thought they were blue..)
Though her enthusiasm for outdoor gardening may have been underwhelming, her indoor garden was always something spectacular. Also in the faded grey folder, a little pencil written note pulled from one of her many notebooks - on sprouting and growing avocados. My childhood memories of windowsills are not without a small glass of water with an avocado seed balanced on toothpicks half way in water, half exposed. I can't possibly imagine how many avocado plants she grew. I don't think any of them ever grew an avocado, but her plants were gorgeous.

Isn't it something that my mother the reluctant gardener was the first inspiration in my plans for our new garden.

Her Hansa rose will be among the first additions, but I've also just ordered some David Austin roses, a little tender here, but worth it even if for only one season. In my first garden I planted Winchester Cathedral - simply because I loved the fragrance of the blooms, even in the pot at the nursery. It wasn't until it was planted and I introduced it to my mother that she told me of how her and my father watched the changing of the bells at the real Winchester Cathedral while on a belated honeymoon (I think my dad was at a conference and my mother tagged along, but they called it a honeymoon... *academics*).
Ordered today is a new Winchester Cathedral, Golden CelebrationGraham ThomasJude the Obscure, and Lady of Shalott.
They're all of the hardier Davis Austin roses (famous for old world style and fragrance), but still considered somewhat tender here. I'm willing to take my chances. I'm eyeing up the sunny beds nearest the house for these, but that would involve the removal of boring shrubs..., which is a lot of work.

I see a lot of shuffling in our garden's future. The Reluctant Gardener pages my mother focused on were shrubs: flowering almonds, ninebark, burning bush... all of which are interesting, and worth considering for spots in this garden as well.

Rhetoric and Roses: A History of Canadian Gardening, 1900-1930
Edwinna Von Baeyer 1984
ISBN-10: 0-88902-983-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-88902-983-5

Garden Voices: Two Centuries of Canadian Garden Writing
Edwina Von Gal, Edwinna Von Baeyer, Pleasance Crawford 1995
ISBN-10: 0-394-22428-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-394-22428-2

Reluctant Gardener: A Beginner's Guide To Gardening In Canada 
Hoel Cooper, Edwinna Von Baeyer, Dinah Shields 1992
ISBN-10: 0-394-22233-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-394-22233-2

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