One of the pleasures of my life in Los Angeles is walking in the mornings along the reservoir that gives our neighborhood its name, Silver Lake. After the frantic dash to get Theo to school and a quick catch-up with parent friends, I allow myself to enjoy some time that is purely for myself, walking along the sandy path that lines the reservoir and absorbing the natural world. For 30 minutes, I am alone listening to the news, watching out for the blue heron who build their nests up in the eucalyptus trees by the water and taking in vibrant colors of all the flowers, bushes and trees in the neighborhood gardens. At the end of my walk, after I have turned the corner back onto our street, I often meet our neighbor Leigh working in her garden, one of my favorites along my morning route. Over the years, Leigh has lovingly nurtured her drought tolerant front garden into an elegant example of how much beauty can be coaxed out of the ground using very little water. In a few weeks it will be a ruckus of color, when the pale orange California poppies mingle with tiny pick and purple flowers and splashes of blue. A jacaranda tree stands proudly in the center, waiting for its moment in April or May, when it will burst into a lilac frenzy.
I often spot Leigh crouching on her steppingstones pulling out weeds or re-working plants in one area of the garden. We usually take a few minutes to check in with each other, and I hear the latest about her lovely, talented daughter Anna who is currently acting in a television show, we compare travel stories or lament the current state of public education (she worked in education before she retired). This morning, she told me that she had liked the article I’d included in our local paper, encouraging de-cluttering and mentioning this blog. She said she was planning to get rid of stuff too. I have been wanting to give her something, but out of respect for her desire to minimize her own belongings, I opted for the tiniest gift I could possibly give someone and one that I hoped would give her pleasure – seeds for her garden. I had a few packs of vegetable seeds I’d been meaning to plant since last year. Rather than have them sit in a cupboard for another year, it seems wise to entrust them to a talented and loving gardener whose hands will help them to grow into the luscious, leafy plants they are destined to be.