Unfinished Business

Apr 30, 2015

I’ve spent the better part of the past couple of weeks or so out in my garden. There were raised boxes to fill and flower beds to turn, and amend and turn again. I dug up turf, lovingly relocating clumps of it to bare spots and divots in my lawn. And since there were more bare spots than there were bits of sod, there was seed to sow.

I scratched at that soil and harvested a barrel’s worth of stones then laid little kernels of hope into slim rows. I stood in the breezy April chill as the spray from the hose drifted back onto my face and watered more than the soil and its promise.

Nothing has sprung to life just yet.

Eventually comes the point when I’m pretty sure nothing will come of my efforts. I’ve wasted time I could have spent in the studio, or writing to a friend, baking cookies or laughing with a sister. And even if something does live, it will surely be devoured by insects, or chipmunks or the deer that linger at the edges of my lawn.

Before I began on this horticultural tear I had begun yet one more clementine portrait. I’d come upon an image I’d forgotten and I did so love that series. I got just to the point where there is form but little substance. There is promise but also the promise of failure, of disappointment.

It wasn’t hard to turn away and to turn towards the earth.

With the hard evidence of the intractable soil under my fingernails, I recall the pleasure I get from plunging my hands into the dirt. Of prying out a big old rock that’s in my way. Of the smell of the earth. Of the wriggly worms. Of my knees bending on the damp soil. Of the act of hope that the marvel of creation can happen once again and that I could have some small part in it.

So while I wait for that moment to come, for that little miracle, I will return to that clementine that came to sit on my table and look so luscious that I just had to open it up and find it beautiful and want to paint it. And with paint on and in my hands I will once again hope for another kind of miracle and a different kind of creation.

Painting: Vortex [unfinished] © Lissa Banks 2015