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  Skeetlin's Garden - 2006

Spring of 2006 reveals the price one pays for not laying down mulch. The weeds and grass are determined to take back their territory.

The small pond is smelly and green, and the cats have knocked my rocks into the water. The water lily I put in the pond last summer has sent up a few leaves through the algae.

   

My tiny tiller takes a break from tearing up the tenacious grass and weeds.

The daylilies have come up thick and glorious, looking like they've been there for years. The iris bloom profusely amid the weeds. The pussy willows are almost as high as the willow tree, which needs a serious haircut.

It takes an entire weekend, but the tilling is finally done, and some ripe horse manure is worked into the soil.

   

A load of used paving bricks and flagstones scavenged from the abandoned house next door, 30 bags of pea gravel, and 4 yards of mulch later, a celtic garden emerges from the weeds. Earth, Air Fire and Water, the four quarters come together with the small pond at their center. Skeetlin and his Willow tree reside at the Eastern quarter, where the small altar is now topped by a stone slab.

I plant several miniature roses along the main path, and a few odd perennials here and there. Several giant (well, they will be giant eventually) hostas from my sister's garden are set along the back of the circle to complete the ring of green that encloses the circle.

   

Skeetlin has been gone four years, and I have not found a suitable marker for his grave other than the Willow tree that stands over him. I decide no marker is better than the cheesy looking stones for sale as pet memorials. Then, I find a small concrete plaque at the Philly Flower Show with the simple prayer:

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

I place it in front of the willow tree.

It is late summer, and the water lily blooms for the first time. Miss Cleo claims the altar/bench for her afternoon repose, and is ever-present when I work in the garden. I call her my "Garden Guardian."

   

In addition to the marker, a small statue of a cat, given to me by a friend, now gazes into the water of the pond.

 

   

In this photo from 1992, Skeetlin gazes into his Arden fishpond, an old bathtub sunk into the ground next to our cottage.

Skeetlin loved his pond in Arden, and I hope that some part of his spirit enjoys this new one in his forever garden.

   

Skeetlin's garden has become a sanctuary for cats. They are drawn to the pond, the catnip plants, and the blessed shade of the willow tree, which bravely bears the marks of their claws.

Rusty, a misfit orange tiger who came to us in the previous summer, enjoys drinking from it and knocking the rocks into the water.

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