The summer of 2012 was the third-hottest summer and one of the driest on record in the US. Probably not the best time to plan or plant a new garden, especially one that wouldn’t be tended much. B. occasionally visited his SW Michigan cabin, but wouldn’t move in full-time until one year later. He has no real penchant for gardening.
These were the heady days of our intimacy and he brought me up to the cabin fairly often. I thought his expanse of front yard needed a focal point. I have a horticulture degree and am an avid gardener, so I began sourcing and buying plants right for his climate. I especially wanted the area around his front steps and deck (where we’d relax at night) to be fragrant through three seasons, so I chose Lillies-of-the-Valley (transplanted from my own garden, a special gift from the heart), a yellow-orange climbing rose, showy red peonies, aromatic autumn clematis, and sweet honeysuckle vine. On the day of the planting B. ordered a truckload of topsoil and we set to work. It was an excruciatingly hot, sunny day, and this was some of the most back-breaking landscaping I’ve ever done. But I worked hard, with great care and love. I wanted his cabin in the woods to look and smell nice. I suppose, too, on some subconscious level, I wanted to leave my personal “stamp” on the place.
One of the hardest chores was preparing a circular bed near the walk leading up to his front door. B. sliced into and yanked the turf from the circle I’d laid out and I popped the plants into some rather inhospitable soil. In went beautifully arching and carefree ornamental grasses, long-blooming perennials and fine-needled evergreens, plants that I knew would be easy keepers since B. had no green thumb whatsoever. I never envisioned a break-up coming, and when visiting the cabin with B. I was happy to assume the role of groundskeeper. I was so exhausted after working all day on these gardens that I could hardly move, not even after a long, hot shower and a handful of painkillers. B. was thoughtful enough to drive out and bring back burgers from a local tourist trap. We ate picnic-style on the floor near the master bathroom because I literally couldn’t get up from the day’s heavy activity. And I’ll tell you: it was the best-tasting burger and shake I’ve ever had!
In spring 2013 I took a drive up to B.’s place without him to tend the gardens and get them ready for the upcoming growing season, replacing plants that did not overwinter well. Then, late in June 2013, I had my third back surgery to relieve a herniated disc. I recuperated at B.’s cabin at his invitation over that July Fourth holiday, but I was in no condition to bend down, pick weeds, mulch or head back spent blooms.
By October, our relationship was over.
I now look at this picture of the little garden that could have been and wonder. Had I not been overthrown for another woman it might have blossomed into a cheery, welcoming site to B. and to visitors, well-tended to and loved. A stunning attraction. But without my attention, I wonder if it is now an eyesore. I wonder if it’s still even there, perhaps ripped out by B. so as not to remind him of me and our tough day of gardening together. Maybe it’s been entirely overtaken by the surrounding turfgrass, gone without a trace.
In fact, I hope it has disappeared, as faded as a distant memory, as dead as our affair.
A former mistress (26 years, on-and-off) describes the good, the bad, and the ugly of her long-term affair. Conclusion: Affairs aren't necessarily destructive if kept in the correct perspective. Our experience enhanced BOTH our marriages.
That is, until his marriage ended and we began to love each other. When the affair morphed into a relationship, well, that's when it stopped being fun for me. We have now irrevocably split.
Lately I've been writing about the man who took his place in the "off" years of that 26-year-long affair. He was a dynamic sexual partner but we, too, now have irrevocably split.
These are our stories.