Our garden is like a recipe in transition.  Lording over the garden is my calico stray, Sheba.  The garden contains some important information for us.  We put much of our heart and soul into it.  We began with the broken brick mailbox.  Michael moved it out back and then we turned it over and planted on top of it.  Eventually, an arbor was build.  A friend let us dig up some of his bromeliads to plant in front of the oak trees so they had some stability during storms.  I planted a cactus which grows against the oak tree and we are told will bloom one evening.  We wait and watch as it continues its pilgrimage up our tree.  On a bike ride, there was a neighbor selling a beautiful light which Mike had installed and turned on while I was in Abu Dhabi.  He and a friend build a brick pathway with a bridge.  There are overgrown plants which Sheba hides from the birdfeeder and watches like the hunter she is. 

   A stone cobra sticks his tongue out at the entrance to our garden.  Behind him are a lime tree and a cherry tree.  We had read about the owners of a small botanical garden living in Town and Country.  After we visited, we walked away, 10 years ago, with these trees which have claimed some of our backyard.  Each produces fruit and I love the lime for my ice tea.  A Buddha, reminiscent, of my time in Asia, is now covered with vines and silently eyes our yard watching our cat with amusement.  There is a small marble bench that I visit when seeking solitude. 

   There is a small cactus garden, pretty shells one of my elementary students presented me with, a plant from the Minister’s wife of Temple Terrace Community Church.  Marsha, with her green thumb.  Michael bought a sun dial, and one day while surfing on the internet overseas, I told Michael about a heavy water pump, which he bought from an antique store in South Tampa.  Some of the plants are in hibernation right now.  My favorite spot in our house is in my lounge chair from IKEA with my feet propped up watching the birds feed. It is an exact chair that I bought in Abu Dhabi.  A good friend, Madonna, helped me transport my IKEA chair to my apartment residence in Abu Dhabi.  After teaching, I propped up my feet and watched the people going to the Mosque, hurrying about the city, and spoke with my husband by Skype.  There were no birds to watch.  Some say people are more interesting but I missed our garden, my cat, and of course, Michael.

      We didn’t invest a lot of money in our garden and some of the memories are funny.  I collected ferns from the park nearby often meeting a neighbor, who has passed away. Even if we didn’t know each other that well, a little wave and conversation was a link to our neighborhood. Our little garden holds some good memories of bringing back plants from trips further South to the Everglades and even of finding some small plants in a nearby thrift shop with a small garden center.  You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make memories but bring yourself to the table, and remember the good times and memories spend with those you care for.  Happy holidays everyone!