Putting Down Roots

Roots run deep. And there’s nothing like gardening to reinforce that age-old concept.

Take the task I was faced with this summer – removing a rather unremarkable bush that had been in decline for a few years.

It was hard labor. The bush was so entrenched that the drip line was hopelessly snared in a network of tangled branches. Even after I managed to wrangle the bush out of the ground, I literally spent hours extracting stray roots.

“Why doesn’t this dang thing want to let go?” I fumed as I swiped at the sweat running into my eyes. “Well, that’s a silly question. It’s the same reason you want to stay here until you die. It’s where you’ve put down roots.”

To be clear, my roots on this property are only 10 years deep. Plenty of people have connections to their homes that span decades longer. I envy them. One of my best friends lives in the house where she grew up. We met as teenagers about two months after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. I’ll let you do the math.

In contrast, I’ve lived in at least 25 houses and apartments in 12 towns in three states. The longest my parents stayed in one spot was five years. My current house in the high desert of Northern Nevada represents my personal best. I know because I recently passed that milestone, and it was a big deal for me. Prior to that, the record-holder was a little, blue house in Oregon where my children came of age.

The reasons my parents moved around, and the reasons I have moved here and there as an adult, are complicated and not particularly relevant to this story. What is relevant is that all the packing and unpacking over the years left a mark on me. I’m tired of moving and have become almost militant about never doing it again. I’ve put down roots, just like the trees and bushes in my garden, and somebody is going to have to work up a sweat to yank me out of here.

Why is that? Why do I say that we’d either have to go completely broke or win unimaginable millions in a lottery to pry me loose? What’s so special about this house?

Nothing really. Nothing except memories – of my mother who passed away in what is now my writing room, dogs that have crossed the bridge, wide-eyed grandchildren on Christmas morning, family dinners on Saturday nights, the pleasure of creating an extraordinary garden on a barren plot of sand.

Perhaps most compelling is this. Even though I don’t live in the house where I grew up and my children can’t visit theirs, I want my grandsons to have the strongest memories they can possibly have of a place where family dwelled. Where laughter was easy and love was shared. Where mistakes were sometimes made but forgiveness flowed. Where roses bloomed and roots ran deep. What could be a better legacy than that?

The Garden 2011
Spring 2011
The Garden 2018
Spring 2018

4 thoughts on “Putting Down Roots

  1. This is beautiful! Both the photos and the sentiments. I feel exactly the same way but could never have expressed it so beautifully. Thank you for writing!


  2. I agree with you….it’s the memories of the house. My yard is filled with memories as well. This plant came from my sister in Oregon, or this rosebush from my grandmother who was born in 1900, etc. Roots indeed.


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