When I moved into this apartment nearly eight years ago, I had just split up with a boyfriend. I was heartbroken and had even lost the desire to garden. The balcony was barren for a couple of years. Instead, I used the space to refinish some furniture I’d inherited from my grandmother, which turned out to be excellent therapy for mending a broken heart. When I was finally ready to create a garden, my friend Jan helped me plan it. We spent hours pouring over books and poking around in nurseries. The end result was a beautiful Zen garden that has become a quiet meditative space for me.
At the end of this month, the balconies in my building will be ripped off and replaced with new ones. (Waiting to hear back on whether or not the construction company will be recycling all those materials.) So now, I must deconstruct my outdoor refuge. I suppose I should be all Buddhist about this, see my garden as a mandala sand painting, acknowledge the ephemeral nature of all things, but I must admit it has not been easy dismembering this living creation. Yesterday I moved the blueberry bushes and some herbs to my community garden plot. I even got all weepy saying goodbye to the rat man who entertains me on his monthly visits to rebait the traps. In the next few days, the remaining plants, pots and furniture will go to a friend’s yard and garage.
Yes, once the balconies are done, I can build a new garden. After six to eight months of jackhammering, vibration, the cacophony of an ever present construction crew and other gross assaults on my living space, another garden can arise from the dust and debris. Losing the extra 75 square feet of outdoor living room and the only ventilation source in my tiny 600 square foot suite is only temporary. My landlord, a west side realtor, will not compensate me in any way for this inconvenience (her word). The tenancy association, accustomed to dealing with tenants of slum landlords who don’t repair their buildings at all, was not overly sympathetic or encouraging either.
I contemplate moving me with the garden. I pay just over $1,000 a month here, a big chunk of my income, but this place is actually considered affordable housing on the west side. My heart hurts just thinking about leaving my neighbourhood; dismantling my life here would be much worse than deconstructing my garden. Time to consult my Zen cards.