My Buddha Garden
porcelain Buddha, clad in pink pyjama bottoms and an open yellow
kimono, festooned with Chinese symbols, sits on a glass-topped end
table out on my cedar deck, high above the pasture and overlooking the
river beyond. The deck has become a garden of sorts, with its four large
terra cotta pots, with various herbs planted in them, resting on the
backs of strategically placed small red clay lions.
Little "feet" to protect the smooth cedar from water
damage. The hanging
baskets of fuchsia, mint, pansies and other trailing blossoms attract
humming birds. I have
only had the Buddha since May. I found him out on my brother Jasper's
patio, after he died. It
was off in a corner behind tangles of Christmas tree lights and
wobbly, broken chairs. We packed the porcelain Buddha carefully into a cardboard
box, with towels, and placed it into the foot-well on the passenger
side of the Land Cruiser. I
cautioned everyone to be very careful of the Buddha.
"It was my mother's," I told those who had come to
help me pack out a dead brother's apartment.
A brother who had died of pneumonia, the day before Mother's
Day, because his girlfriend was too stupid to call 911.
The girlfriend who wears my mother's clothes, even though they
were not willed to her. My
mother's elegant dresses, and hats, and gloves.
My mother's silken lingerie.
Her scarves, and shoes, and leather purses.
Her perfume. A
mother who died too young. A
mother who left before I got a chance to know her.
Later, at home, as
we unpacked the cars and moving van, Glenn with his round belly,
hanging over his brass belt buckle, took one look at the Buddha and
loudly announced, "This will look great in my room.
I have just the place for it."
I couldn't help but mouth the words, "Mini-Me,” as my
eyes rolled heavenward. They
looked like twins, Glenn and my mother’s Buddha.
When no one was
looking, I took my mother's laughing, smiling Buddha, with the
children crawling all over him, tickling him, to my studio.
I locked the door behind me, climbed a flight of stairs, and
took him out to the wooden deck.
I placed him in the Southwest corner, below the rail, and
watched the sun throw slanted shadows across his face and bare belly.
Later, we brought my mother's glass topped dining table and two
white wicker chairs up. They
seemed, in a feng shui moment, to want to live in that same corner, so
the Buddha, with his laughing belly, and red lips, was moved to the
Northwest corner of the deck, with his yellow kimono clad back, to the
spinney of Alder trees and the singing river beyond.
The next day, when
we were arranging my mother's leather furniture, coffee table, and
glass cabinets, in the living room, of my house, on the Stillaguamish
River, the house my husband and I bought to retire to, the house we
bought before we knew he also would die so soon; I found an iron and
glass side table in the things we were unpacking, which I spirited
away and secretly brought up to my deck.
I placed it in the corner and carefully set the Buddha atop the
fragile glass. The
glass I had cleaned with vinegar and newspapers, the way my mother's
mother had taught me, the glass that shone in the late afternoon sun.
I planted all the
seeds I had brought with me, here to the Pacific Northwest from my
home in Southern California.
I sowed them in flats, and pots and Tupperware and anything
that would hold the fragrant, crumbles of dark brown planting soil.
I even placed a cosmos seed in a spice box full of earth, and
set it like some special offering, in front of my mother's happy
Buddha. Those red lips seemed to smile even broader.
The rains came, and
the tiny seeds began to sprout.
The herbs began to bloom and flower, and my deck came to be
called "My Buddha Garden."
Now, there are small terra cotta flowerpots all along the
railings, overflowing with columbines, and cosmos and Canterbury
bells, and nasturtiums and geraniums.
The bees come to cross pollinate the flowers and the
hummingbirds come daily to taste the nectar in a stained glass humming
bird feeder, and to watch the porcelain children tickle the laughing,
smiling Buddha. The
scarlet runner beans grow up the bean pole tipi I erected in the
wildflower garden below, they climb up the Alder poles, just to sneak
a peek at the dancing eyes of the laughing, smiling, happy porcelain
figure on the glass topped table in My Buddha Garden.
I thank my mother for this belated gift and for the joy she always brought me. Then I relax, in her white wicker chair, with the rose chintz cushions, at my glass-topped table, and feel her spirit all around me, as the bees hum and the river sings.