Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, July 23, 2018

When I'm old put me in the garden...please

I do not take my gardens for granted. I am graced by them, helped and soothed by them, delighted, surprised and never disappointed in them. And they are a requirement for my soul, I believe. What would happen if I could not have Nature and gardens meshed in my day? I don't want to dwell on that. I do think too many have become distracted to the point of not even noticing one flower in their daily life, or a the intricate details of a tree branch.

The elder visits I've been doing make me keenly aware of 'what might come". I also know many, including my parents, who lived their entire lives in their own homes, surrounded by things that gave them comfort, grounding and purpose. I don't have the answers for the aging population, not everyone can do that. It is a depressing thought to me to think of living in a place without Nature, without the ability to bend and touch Earth, and smell rain as the sky turns grey. Next week, weather permitting, Opie and I will travel an hour and a half to visit a small dementia home, on the sea, where Nature is a key point to how the residents live. They understand and value the actual past lives, and thoughts that go on in these people's heads, and they do not 'lock up the house'...rather, residents are allowed to go out when ever they want, and roam, with an attendant. The staff-to-patient ratio is set up so this can happen. They also allow pets, and have kept the pets on after residents die. Children were also raised in the house, mixing with the elders. I do not know the cost of the residence, but I assume it is pricey, and not all of us can afford this if our time comes to this. But it is heartening places like this exist.

If only the masses of elders and special needs could have facilities like this all over, at affordable prices, where they are treated as creatures versus patients put in a holding tank. Does it all come down to money? Or does it come down to the breakdown of the family system where multi-generations lived together and cared for one another. When someone was sick, or dying, the person was in the house. Children learned that grandpa had great stories and knew how to do a lot of cool things. My mother talked of this a lot, and told me many stories of the relative in the back room on their death bed-still listening to the sounds of the youngsters running about the house, smelling the scents wafting from the kitchen, hearing a familiar sound as simple as the screen door, the rooster, the dog, the mail truck.

I have always looked at my farm that way, a multi-generational community, sometimes birth is going on, sometimes death. How many times did I sit quietly with a dying matriarch of the sheep flock, while little lambs milked right near by? Those were spiritual moments, and I wish human death could always be like that–surrounded by the clan, familiar sounds and smells.

Gardens allow those of us prone to floating off [not always a bad thing] to stay grounded, right here on this realm where for now, we are supposed to be until we are not. When I die, I don't know what or where I will go, I think it will be something that meshes all the beauty of garden, animals, acceptance, safety and a feeling of worth into a skin of some kind, and maybe we won't even 'see' things, we will just be them and become of them, of their essence.

That is the privilege of having a garden, and land to work on-it allows you to become of it, without judgement. And when you do become of it, you reach your higher, calmer, less angry, less judgmental self-your higher being so to speak.