Caged geraniums are Banff’s gardening emblem. Nibbling ungulates necessitate protected blossoms. For my 20 years there, I accepted the impossibility of cultivation. It wasn’t difficult; tenacious and ephemeral alpine flowers were more than enough for me.
Vancouver: my first chance at a freely-growing greenery. I had no clue how. Even when we want a certain harvest, we can be reluctant to reap it. And first we must face the challenge of planting. As this piece of artwork by Jane Bateman quotes:
I dug myself up. I can’t say, “Transplanting proved more difficult than I’d imagined.” I never imagined it. Not knowing there were roots, why would I? I didn’t know where home was until I was elsewhere.
I thought leaving Calgary had been leaving home, but no. It had provoked little emotion and left no emotional residue. I was like a leaf cutting, and it’s relatively simple to propagate from a cutting.
One day in meditation I heard, “You love it here, but you must go.” Like a child I stoppered my ears and babbled to drown out the unwanted guidance. But the voice was relentless. I knew leaving would break my heart. I also knew I had to. And I did. Was that bravery, or greed? Isn’t greed a lack of gratitude for what you already have?
Coward, I’ve called myself. For not living out loud, proud, and alternative in the place I adored. But as a dear friend helped me see, I didn’t know how to because in 45 years, I had never had enough community to teach me pride, to provide the strength and safety and solace needed for that sort of daring.
Vancouver has given me those things.
I still don’t know how to plant.