This ivy and rose covered pergola stands in our yard, a mature vision of the former owner’s dream. When we bought our home thirteen years ago, the structure stood bare, with a single stalk of a thorny climbing rose, and a pot of English Ivy at the base. A decade later, it became a mass of leaves and blooms, so lush and full as to inspire a daily retreat into the arched garden. I loved it then. I loved it when it was a bare thing waiting for leaf children to climb on. I always thought it was a romantic sort of thing for someone to build. A bit of poetry inside a chain link fenced yard.
Last year when mom came to visit, we discussed the idea of removing the ivy because it was a struggle to keep clipping back. At one point the ivy from the top would reach down and touch the ground on the back side. Mom thought it was beautiful and said try to keep it. And I agreed. Then this year, I noticed the entire structure start to sway in a strong breeze.
It turns out, English Ivy, so romantic of vines, is also a destructive force of weight and a hide-out for chewing, munching, wood hungry ants. And the thought of losing our beautiful little pergola, which for some reason I’ve always called “the arbor” sent me on a mission to the garage for a shovel, some clippers, a hatchet and gloves. And this is what I found:
And underneath that,
With the help of my husband, who said a few cuss words and threatened to get out the saw and bring it all down, we worked for days removing and burning the old ivy. Getting to this point was a huge relief. Almost like a psychological cleansing. A clarity of mind after a meditation. A sigh of relief. Whew!
But that is not all.
I have become more aware about the magical power of intention when it comes to projects big and small. That my focus has a tendency to draw me nearer to manifesting my imagination. And the way Spirit provides things that I might want to make use of. First to arrive was a gorgeous, heavyweight, textured cotton duvet from an overstuffed rack on the back wall of the Goodwill. A couple of small stains meant it was perfectly acceptable to use it outdoors and was meant for my project. A few days later, I was on the hunt for some hooks to hang curtain rods. Elliot, patient, tolerant son, who was nonetheless pulling on my sleeve, bumping my side, gently prodding me like a herding dog to leave the second hand shop when we didn’t find hooks, got a lesson in treasure hunting. “See, Elliot! See how this works? I had an intuition that there was something in here we can use.” Our treasure? An old brass chandelier!
A few days after this, four white flat sheets arrived like magic for 2.25 a piece! The basic elements were in place. I worked for a few days at the sewing machine and came out with four white panels for the back of the pergola, and two heavy duty drapes for the front, with fabric leftover for new chair cushions. I even had some leftover fabric paint to make my own designs, and that turned out to be a fun day making art in the back yard, the sweetest therapy there is. Elliot enjoyed using the spray paint on the chandelier, which was his reward for being so patient while I treasure hunted.
Richard even contributed by bringing home some galvanized pipe and hooks for hanging the curtains and drapes.
I wonder if this ever happens to other folks when they are working on a project. Everything starts to come together, piece by piece. The anticipation for completion builds. Excitement is high. Then, there happens to arrive something to thwart the completion, just in the last push to the finish line. For me this is usually a knotted thread on the sewing machine, a crazy grinding and humming and slow to respond computer issue, a big distraction that requires immediate attention, or a mistake caused by the increased momentum and speed of the work as it comes to a close. This time, that Canadian cold front brought us big gusty breezes, which on a sunny spring day can be so absolutely wonderful, especially in a subtropical, dense humid climate. But yesterday it was really giving us fits! Trying to hang curtains in the gusts was testing all of our nerves. I ended up sewing a wide hem on the bottom and Elliot helped by hunting for rocks, washing and drying them, and placing them inside the hem to weight the light cotton back panels.
And then it suddenly came all together at once. Richard brought out the handpainted pillows and our plastic wicker chairs, followed by our old iron table that he resurfaced with tile. Elliot brought a washcloth to wipe the dust and pollen from the table, then said, “We need flowers!” And so after wiping the dust, he brought a sad little pot of yellow marigolds for our centerpiece. Richard, being the tallest, hung the chandelier. I snapped a few photos, and we went inside to fix our Sunday chicken dinner.
But excitement was still high. After dinner, guess where we went? Not to the living room to watch a movie. Not to our tablets or phones. Not to the road for our evening walk. We went on a mini vacation on a Greek Island formerly known as our back yard. And we read about Shakespeare’s language in the sunset.
And just in case you were worried, the rose bush was saved.
As the moon shone above us and the candles flickered, Elliot asked, “Did your mom ever do magical things for you when you were a kid?” And I said, “Yes. Yes, she did. She was the one who taught me how to make the perfect blanket fort.”