Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Garden Patience

How ironic that having waited summer after summer after summer for close to a decade for this Acanthus mollis to bloom, disappointed every year that the dramatic foliage didn't reveal any of the bear-breeched stalks, once the pergola was put in place so as to considerably obscure the plant, the darling blossomed quite happily. Was it just shy?

An up-close view of the flowers -- perhaps you can discern the bear-breeches shape that give the plant its common name. The acanthus leaves, I remember reading once, were, with the ivy, two central elements in classical (Latin, Greek) ornamentation -- carved on temple pillars, for example.
It takes some sneaky camerawork to present Mr. Acanthus as if he were not hiding behind a pergola -- just for you, readers, I twisted into the necessary angle. . . .
I'm hoping to get my mom into the garden today for some puttering, although it's raining now, serious rain for the first time in at least six weeks -- very welcome rain for the garden.
But in another irony, having finally managed to get mom to a garden she can work in to her heart's content, she seems to have little sustained motivation. Spending the day with her yesterday has made clearer to me the encroachments of her Mild Cognitive Impairment. Other than walking, which she can do for hours daily, if not at a time, she has no ideas for filling the day. At home, she does still visit the library regularly, and brings books home, but, by her own sheepish admission, she often returns them unfinished (as I reassured her, it's not as if there's going to be a test). Previously a talented knitter and seamstress, capable of turning out garments without relying on a pattern, she started a pair of socks six or eight months ago, but left them as ornamentation on her coffee table (the yarn is a colour that matches her cushions!). Occasionally, she'll start something simple at someone's prodding -- one of those cotton dishcloths, a baby neckwarmer -- but she never perseveres.
Having a non-reading guest is a challenge, especially since I feel an obligation to entertain her. I don't so much mind answering questions for the third and fourth time, but do get exhausted by the afternoon. Luckily, Pater is so very patient, and he also reminds me that I don't need to take on responsibility so completely -- he sees her as quite content even if she's just sitting on her own in a chair. He makes sure she has a good view, then lets her be.
Last night, I remembered, brilliantly, that I had the DVD of Ratatouille tucked away somewhere -- we had two very pleasant hours watching it together with her laughing delightedly. I've dug up Finding Nemo and hope that will do the same trick this evening.
Meanwhile, I'm drawing on the patience that the Acanthus finally rewarded me for, although all too conscious, sadly, that the blooms I'd hoped to draw forth from my mother are gone for good. Different compensations must be found, perhaps in the patience itself rather than in any expectation of reward. Must. get. to. zen. . .