At some point in my garden blog reading, I began to encounter a fancy French word, terroir. I quickly realized that “terroir” is what the smart gardeners call what the rest of us explain as “what’s it like where I live”. Less sardonically, terroir means a sense of place.
Being a connoisseur of fancy words, I quickly filed this one away. It went under: Words I Like but Will Never Use in Casual Conversation.
This is no casual conversation though. I know that if you’re reading my blog it’s because you are esoteric in your own way, right? So allow me, if you will, to write about what it’s like where I live. Allow me to explore the terroir.
I don’t want to tell you too much about the weather (historically dry until the last week) although that plays a significant role. And I don’t want to write too much about my neighborhood (old with lots of character).
|My neighborhood is filled with turkeys.|
But then I got here, moved my family’s stuff and my personal junk into the house, worked on some projects, and did the unthinkable and hired people to mow my own lawn. And after some nine or ten months I feel like I don’t have any real understanding of the terroir of my lot.
My yard is still largely a blank slate. I have certainly done things since I’ve been here. I planted most of the Japanese maples that had lived in pots at my old place. I have created one new garden bed, cut down lots of poorly planted and placed trees, and added some boxwood hedges, patches of ferns, and tackled my vegetable garden. But it still just feels like small pieces of a larger puzzle - only this puzzle is lacking the box with the big picture on it.
The other morning as I drove through the neighborhood and
looked at other people’s yards, it struck me how differently people landscape
their yards. I don’t know most of my new
neighbors yet, but I can’t help but derive a sense of who they are based on
what I sense of their place.
|These pieces (the chair, the potted Japanese maple, the wood lantern) all had a place at my old house.|
Now they are grouped together on the island of misfit elements.
That got me to thinking about how other people might perceive my landscape and what that says about me. Can they tell just from looking that I’m still feeling directionless? Can they sense the influence of too many different voices the way I do? Do they experience the terroir of my yard the same way I do?
In the realm of all things that are much less important than life-and-death, one of the worst things to feel is discouragement caused by your lack of progress in an endeavor like art, writing, or gardening. But I am not as discouraged as I could be. Although I sense that the terroir of my garden is as muddled as a slow-moving stream with too many kids playing in it, I also know that Spring is just a few warm days away here (the ornamental pear trees in the neighborhood have already bloomed!). And when the Spring rains come through, this muddy water will be revived and I will have my chance to do a little bit more to fill this place with my voice.
|This pincushion flower is already blooming in my front yard.|
I am curious to hear from you on this topic if you have a moment. I would love to hear how long it took you before you started to feel like your garden or yard or home started to feel like something you wanted it to feel like. Did you have a good sense for the garden right away or did you have to live with it and listen to it for some time before it became clear to you?