Soil stains my palms but I don’t see the deep brown circle that spreads like watercolor on my skin until the I enter the light of the yurt from the settling dark outside. It’s 7:00 perhaps, and I am coming in from transplanting perennials. The sun is sinking earlier these days, tricking me into sleep at 8:15, though some nights Waylon refuses to believe when the sky tells us it’s bedtime.
Clouds pull over the sky like a tattered blanket, bringing dreams of storms and showers; we’ve been dry for weeks, and everyone here–soil, plants, pond, people–is ready for a dousing. We are opening like cracks in a dessert, opening for water to pour in, rush through, and quench.
The perennials I am transplanting get a bucket-full of water, not from rain, but from the left-over vegetable wash-water that comes from the holding tank we are living on these days. They accept it. It’s fall, the time for dividing and re-locating, and I’ve been given a gift from a local woman who’s tended a perennial garden for 30 years: Bleeding Hearts, Siberian Iris, Bee Balm, and Peonies. I take a shovel to their roots, circling at first, digging deep around them, and then finally sneaking under and leveraging up, the crack and pop of release telling me it’s done. Tenderly, I pull the plants out, move them to pots, load them in the truck, and bring them home to join echinacea, yarrow, and rudbeckia.
All this digging, pulling, breaking free–I’m doing the same, finding the overgrown parts of myself where frustration hides in a tangle of roots. When the digging gets tough, I look out and see the trees glowing with fiery leaves, transforming the entire landscape with their announcement of letting go.
With each moment of pause staring out at the mountains and each plant dug up, the trees and perennials teach me the magnificence of release, the necessity of breaking apart and creating space.
I dump buckets of compost on the newly transplanted perennials, and I keep the stain of soil on my hands to remind myself that I am perennial, too. It’s good to trim down and be tucked in before winter.