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A Personal Retreat

Articles: A Personal Retreat

Photo: Big Eagle Owl via Flickr

I don’t usually read obituaries, but noticing one about a woman who died in her garden, I thought—that’s how I want to go. The obituary noted that the woman’s garden had always been a retreat for her and so, when it truly counted, her garden did not fail her.

When I was younger, with children still in school, an uncommunicative husband, and an unfulfilling job, the garden was my retreat where I labored on weekends. It offered shelter, refuge, departure, or all three at once. From the deck at the rear of our small house, I regularly circled a path that looped past two old apple trees, out to a pear tree, around a vegetable patch and an abandoned chicken coop, to an almond tree, a bank of irises, and a fragrant mock orange before ending up back at the kitchen door. Family problems receded, replaced by thoughts of how to keep snails from destroying the flowers and what to do with all that ripening fruit.

Years later, with the children grown to the age I once was and the husband no longer mine, I retreated to Fort Bragg on the Mendocino coast and set to restoring a large, ov...

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