In Spring of 2003 I suffered a miscarriage. It was bad. I spent two days in the hospital. At the age of 36, there would be no more children. Yes, over the following three years we would become foster parents. But it wasn’t until Emilie arrived at our door in summer of 2006 that our family felt complete.
When I was still in the hospital, my boss at the time, Tara, sent me a planter with a small rubber tree at the center. Before this, I didn’t believe in giving people plants. A plant is a living thing, requiring care. It’s a responsibility that should be taken on willingly. Not foisted upon you, as ‘a gift.’ It wasn’t lost upon me that my tough boss had sent me a rubber plant. As if to say ‘You’re allowed to bend. But you’re not allowed to break.’ After all, I had a four year old at home who needed me.
So, we took the planter home. And, as the rubber plant grew into a rubber tree I replanted it, again and again. It grew like a weed. Too much water, it grew. Too little water? Meh. It grew. For sixteen years it thrived. Moving with us to four different houses across two states. But when we moved to Spain I had to let it go. Just one of the million little cracks in my heart as we made the decision to start a new life here.
For the first two years we lived in Valencia we traveled A LOT. All over Spain. All over Europe. To South America. And back and forth to the US. We didn’t have plants or pets. We could pick up and head to the airport, or train station, or hop on Jeff’s motorcycle, on a moments notice. But, then Covid hit.
After I got out of the hospital I struggled with breathing. For a long time. Valencia is not known for it’s pristine air quality. The dust from the Sahara desert forms a brown haze. Blood rains and mud rains coat everything with sticky mud. It would come in through our windows. Breathing there was often unhealthy. Even for healthy people. Jeff immediately bought high-end air filters for every room to help me. And when I could walk to our local el Chino (Chinese variety store) we made the short journey to look through their shelves of pots and plants to add indoor plants to our air quality strategy. And that is when I spotted a rubber plant. The cousin of the one I had for years. The one that helped me heal all those years ago. Jeff bought it and we brought it home. When we moved to Galicia it went in the car with me. And it loves it’s spot. I just repotted it yesterday. Again.
Since we have lived on the farm, more plants have been added. A snake plant is great for filtering the air inside. Jeff recently bought me a sad looking ginseng bonsai after I spotted it in a store. It’s a raggedy little thing, but I love an under dog. We will do just fine together.
Something To Love
When LuLu arrived in June, it was another adjustment for us. You can leave plants with an automatic feeder for weeks. But a cat can’t be left for more than one night. Somehow, that transition from plants to a furry ball curled up in my lap wasn’t so hard. Not that I had a choice. Marie Carmen handed her to me without notice. And Jeff took 30 seconds to bond with her. She was staying. And we weren’t done yet.
The photos of rescue puppies arrived in early December. But a dog is an even bigger commitment. And a puppy pushes that commitment off the scale. I spend hours a day with this little ball of fur. Walking, chasing, and training him. He can now sit, stay, lay down, and leave a treat until invited to eat. All on command. We run through it several times a day until his focus is exhausted. And he taught himself to fetch, usually bringing the ball back to me so I’ll throw it again, and again, out in the field. I can’t believe it’s only been three weeks since he arrived. I love this puppy so much. I’m convinced he’s adding years to my life.
Fergus slept with us for the first two weeks. But he now happily sleeps in his crate through the night. His den. Dogs need boundaries. So do we. The baby gate for the stairs arrived yesterday. He’s learning his place in the house and the family. And, like a toddler, he gets crazy before he needs a nap. Then, passes out wherever he is. Usually by my side or at my feet.
Jeff and I can almost watch him grow. First, he got very long. Then, he woke up one day and his legs had grown over night. We can see the fully grown dog he will be on a few months.
We still love to travel. Now that Covid is under control, we can get back out there and will have weekends all year to explore. Maybe a full week, here and there. Of course, next fall after we close for the season, we have a list of places we want to see. Further away. I’ll fly to visit Ryan and Olga in DC, and to see some friends in NYC. Luckily, there are a number of accredited cat hotels and dog boarding facilities in Galicia. So travel is still in our future. But, in between, its wonderful to be in a house slowly filling with things I can love and care for. Some of whom, even the plants, clearly love me back.