The word downsize, to make smaller, comes to mind as the flowers fade and the leaves in the garden change color. Nature is in the midst of her yearly ritual of trimming back her decorations—the annual retrench.
Seasonal changes in terms of downsizing became my go to metaphor because I’m personally in the midst of reducing the goods in my life. My husband and I sold our Seattle hillside home in anticipation of purchasing one that is level and smaller. In the interim we moved into the Trust House on the grounds of the Dunn Gardens. The dwelling, once the garage when the Dunn Gardens was an estate, then the home of Edward Dunn, is large for sure. But it would not accommodate all our furniture. Before shifting in we disposed of some sofas and cabinets along with goods of little personal value. Doing so was more of a jolt than expected. This is what downsizing means, I told myself as I ruefully watched items and the associated memories disappear down the drive. Even so most of our clutter came with us to our Trust House lodgings, along with an intention to clear it out over time before we move again.
When I look through the items left I’m appalled by what we have accumulated. Making decisions about what to toss is predictably both cleansing and agonizing. It is also spurred by the thought that managing possessions comes with significant costs in time and money. Even that does not make it less difficult. Besides, there is no real imperative to reduce loved items, outside of saving heirs aggravation at having to take care of an estate.
Nature, I decided, is ruthless when she downsizes because she knows not to do so would be costly. She drops leaves on trees without a thought, composts the flowers that no longer enchant, lets weak branches drop with impunity. And what does she get out of that single mindedness to clean house annually. Opportunity to shine again the following year, to burst out in color and fresh green leaves, to sustain herself with new glory to flaunt and bigger plants than the year before.
So where does that leave us humans in general, or my quest to downsize in particular? I can’t answer for the rest of the population, nor am I sure how disciplined I will be in my weeding out of goods surplus to requirements, but I have a plan. To my vow to accept only gifts that can be eaten, drunk, read and planted, I will accept another and would like to recommend it.
As we approach the holiday season I would suggest a measure that may satisfy your need to give gifts but not contribute to the recipients ultimate downsizing dilemmas. In 2018 the Dunn Gardens is offering experiences that may please a loved one: a series of flower arranging classes, a lecture series about flowers and gardens around the world, a Mothers’ Day Cream Tea and a Valentine’s dinner. In these activities you will find camaraderie and memories that will keep you warm when you are in need of comfort. Check out our website for information on dates and prices.
In the meantime I keep looking out the window at the leaves changing color and the flowers fading and reminding myself that there is renewal in disposing of stuff.