I'm quietly on a roll here... second post today. ;)
So, other than hellebores, what else defies winter with little calls, whispers, yodels or shrieks, after years of inattention? Plenty, it seems. I wish I could have photographed it all.
Our 'farmyard' (not a term much used in Australia) when I was small, consisted of several acres of productive and beautiful plantings: orchard, vegetables, berries, shrubberies, perennials, bulbs, climbers, flowers for cutting, conifers for greenery that the local florists loved, little treasures and rarities, trees and all their under-plantings. Hellebores. Lots and lots of hellebores under birches! Lots of birches, in fact.
Last week I spent a few days back at the old farmhouse, and though it rained consistently I managed to dodge raindrops long enough to get some photos. Hellebores are one of those great survivors. Aside from grass being mown and fruit trees sometimes pruned, the garden hasn't really been tended since my aunt died around 10 years ago, but hellebores are indifferent to the absence of human ministrations. There are clumps flowering now much the same as they were 40 years ago. And of course seedlings proliferate.
Though I was disappointed with the pics when I got home and looked at them - too much dodging rain and hurried pressing! - I feel like gathering a few here. Mostly because I think they are a hellebore time-capsule. Having become so used to pics of the latest stunning hybrids, I forgot the beauty of the old farmyard hellebores. Here's a few.
Before I had children I read a lot of Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin was hilarious and familiar and outrageous. Little did I know I would one day give birth to a Calvin. No one told me that being a mother would be just like surviving life as a comic strip parent to an alien child. No one told me that I had also been that child. I had no idea that a curiosity as big as the cosmos, imaginary friends and habitually questioning, if not also innocently sidestepping and blindsiding authority, were ...trying... to adults just struggling to survive in the real world. Damn that real world.
But imagination is a wonderful thing. Calvin's mother: "Whither goest thou, young rogue? Can there yet remain some villany thou hast not committed?"
Calvin: "Thou dost wrong me! Faith, I know not where I wander. Methinks the most capricious zephyr hath more design than I."
Which, now I'm aware of living both sides of the conversation, and the meta-conversation (escaping dull and demanding social conventions with the power of imagination), is all the more fitting.
Whither do I wander? To the idea of un-masking. Masking, among its many meanings, refers to an autist's learning to hide or subdue their quirks while mimicing others' behaviours, in order to pass as 'normal' in society. It may apply from buying a loaf of bread to whole life trajectories, becomes entrenched and is ultimately exhausting. Like we're always playing a role. Even worse, a meaningless role in a farcical, perhaps fatuous, absurdity. (Hmmm.... could be liberating! haha!) Because an autist can feel lost among aliens and has to expend extra energy translating - both the things others say and do, and their own responses, into 'normal' in order to communicate - it can feel like a hyper-draining and -demanding world out there. Where are the spaces that autists may be themselves? Ahh, teh interwebs. Bless you.
I want to mention these things because I think that 'extreme' - bwahahahahaha! - online gardening communities are refuge to a disproportionate number of aspies and autists. Where else do you go when the wider world doesn't make sense? Plants do. Animals do. Trains do. Dinosaurs and exoplanets and binary and 12th century lutes do. Some careers - engineering, librarianship, academia, come to mind - are, if you ignore the tea-room or make it a domain of tics and stims, potential refugia. But with or without apt employment we seek immersion in a world of special interest. If we're lucky, it happens also to protect us from this, ugh, 'reality' of which many are apparently so fond.
(If the morning light shining through acacia leaves and glinting from rimed pasture isn't real, what is? I contend a traffic jam is real because so many people conspire to make it real. :p Now is real. Patterns of light are real! The sun requires no conspirator! Wait! Or does it? O.o :p :p
Whither, whither, wander.... )
Ah, exhaustion. Un-masking in a safe space. We (I) crave to share a language. I began a blog here in hopes I could habituate myself to regular writing, in order to make something more of my thoughts and creative processes; so that I could share and make meaning and discover. So that I could become reliable. But I have a fly-crash-and-burn-hide-under-a-rock kind of pattern. I invest a lot of energy with great optimism, then discover my tank is empty. This, I recently discovered, is a common experience for those on the spectrum. From the scale of nervous breakdowns (had plenty of those), to just not being able to meet regular commitments, make promises for fear of letting people down or even make friendships for the dread of having Not Enough To Give, this is a familiar thing to me. Hello revelation! Does an explanation of Autistic Burnout make sense to anyone else?
(Long article, those those who are determinedly curious.)
Well, back to Calvin. My 'imaginary' friend wasn't a stuffed tiger, she was a tree. Her name was Myrtle. I had lots of tree-friends actually. Trees were warm and welcoming; their limbs embracing, their bark soothing, their leaves delightful and their simmering whispers in the breeze the kindest voices I ever heard. Reaching towards the sun makes sense. Reaching toward sweet water makes sense. Growing makes sense. I didn't feel so alien among the trees.
Cotinus 'Grace' is an exceptionally beautiful lady. Spring, summer or autumn, her foliage is a rich range of colours, but I especially wanted to have a go at photographing those special autumn hues. As autumn progressed and disappeared round a chill corner, I didn't think it was going to happen this year - but finally, she changed seasons! A little late according to the calendar, but she's allowed to be.
The light a few days ago was so clear through the leaves that I got my chance to play shutterbug. If only I could roll up in a blanket of these! :)
Struggling with words, but hope images will share some joy. These pics are from the same garden as previously. I went back on a still(er) day and used the tripod!
Comments and criticism welcome! =^.^=