Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lift Your Eyes

Just before my senior year in high school, my father was transferred from Pueblo, Colorado to Leadville, Colorado. Needless to say, I was not very happy that I was uprooted and moved away from the happy high school life that I had in Pueblo. I was convinced that life two miles high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in a small former mining community would be unbearable. One cold summer afternoon when the rain finally stopped, I looked out of the window of our house and said to my mother, "I hate this place. It is ugly. All I see in this town is mud." Her response has stayed with me all this years. She said,"Sally, you need to lift your eyes. Look above the mud on the ground and look at those mountains." The magnificent Mt. Massive, still covered with snow, seemed to fill all of the horizon above the street for as far as the eye could see.  I did learn a life lesson in that moment.  Focus is everything.  What do we see when we look beyond the window?  Where do we wish to focus our view of the world around us?

One of the first things that my son, Jonathan said to me after Julie's services was that he wanted to come to Pueblo to help me build a garden to honor Julie.  Since I have a great deal of yard that still needs to be landscaped, I was thrilled to think that we might begin to work on this project together.  Jon, wearing his traditional lungi from Bangladesh decided that the first order of business would be to install a fountain in the flower garden that is being developed on the side of the house.  This turned into an all day project, but, we finally had it installed and working.  Of course there was some water fun that kept interrupting the work!

While Jon and his wife Samantha worked on the fountain installation, Atticus joined me in planting some flowers.  What a joy it was for me to sit around a small flower garden with my grandson and dig in the dirt.  The curious sort, he had all kinds of questions and observations.  We decided that he should be a botanist someday so that he could study about dirt, bugs, plants and other interesting things.  I must admit that I used my influence to try to lead him in the direction that I think would be such a fascinating field.  He hoped we'd find a worm.  We did.  I went and got my brand-new jewelers 20X illuminated magnifying glass(my graduation present from Colorado Master Gardeners), and we looked for the worm's head.

Jon and I finally selected a spot for Julie's Garden.  We decided it should be the trampoline since that is a gathering place for kids of all ages in our family.  Also, that part of the yard is totally ugly and hot and could use some help.

I came up with the picture of the dream corner I wanted to create from a gardening magazine.  (Our spot is still a very long ways from looking like the picture!)  We thought a small patio next to the shed would be nice to build.  This would give us a place to have a small bistro type table.

Now that we had a vision, some bricks and two men to get busy on the work, I could leave the work up to Jon and Jim.

Jon had a lot of work to do just getting rid of weed guard, the bark and leveling the ground.  Then, he and Jim brought in some sand to make the foundation for the bricks.  (These bricks used to be the bricks in our old patio on the side of the house. I guess they've been moved a few times now!)

Since Jon is young and has his original knees, he became our official bricklayer.  He has been watching a lot of the men in Bangladesh put down the bricks for roads by hand since he got there, so he knew exactly what to do.

PLEASE NOTE:  The corner behind the shed that we selected, is less than perfect due to the fact that our neighbor just that day came up with his solution to the fence I had Jim tear down that was falling into our yard.  Don't you love the orange, plastic fence?  Since our neighbor has not been interesting in sharing the cost of fixing this old fence, I guess I am going to have to pay him a visit soon so we can discuss how his choice is not working for me.

After a long, hot day doing the brick work, Jon, Jim and I drove to Canon City to get some trees.  We wanted a tree for this area that would:  a)not get too big, b) shade the small patio and trampoline, c) be the most beautiful around either Julie's birthdate in April, or the date of her death in May.  We selected a Newport Plum.  I love it because the leaves will always have a rich burgundy red/orange color.  In the spring, it will be covered with vanilla colored flowers with burgundy centers.

We also decided to replace the tree that we removed last summer.  We need the shade for our main patio and for our bedroom.  An Autumn Purple Ash was selected.

The trees were not delivered until Jon had left for home.  It was a wonderful day, when they were delivered and planted.  Planting a tree and building a garden are very healing ways to grieve the loss of a loved one.  In this case, I can't even tell you how much comfort it gives me each day to look out and see Julie's plum tree.  It reminds me of her somehow.  I think that sometimes when she used to dye her hair red, it would almost be this color.  Maybe it is just that it is a tall, beautiful thing of beauty that stands out in nature.  I think of her that way.

                                                       The beginning stages of Julie's Garden
                                                                      The Newport Plum

Each day, I gaze our my window and lift my eyes.  I see the two trees we planted.  It gives me comfort to see these trees and think about how they will grow and shade my home, Julie's Garden, and the trampoline for years to come.  They represent hope.  They represent inspiration.  This will be a place for healing, a place for laughter, a place to remember times past, and place to create new memories.  The trees allow me to lift my eyes and see beyond this earth.


  1. What a lovely tribute to your Julie - your whole family working on this project.

  2. I was so glad to see your post...I was wondering how you and your family were doing. The garden is a perfect way to honor Julie and keep her place in the family.

    I love your grandson's name...from To Kill a Mockingbird?

    As always, beautifully written. I hope the writing still helps. Take care.

  3. Do you remember the time when our whole family,Bill me,you and the three others, were hanging over the front fence admiring the beautiful sunset over Mt.
    Massive."I look up to the mountains does my help come from there?My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth." Psa.121:1,2

  4. Yes, mother, I do remember that day, and that verse. The verse has sustained me many times during my life.

  5. #1 Nana, yes, my grandson is named for Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird. I love that my son and his wife are so committed to social justice that they would name their son after the main character in that wonderful book.

  6. Your garden is beautiful - in spite of the neighbors fence. At least you are ready for a sudden snow storm...We have found that the higher the fence the more we like our neighbors. lol.


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