V – The Hierophant
My, how time passes. I am still living in the castle we built after the garden was completed, and people have come and gone. Family. I don’t remember getting married, but suddenly, I have grandparents and great-grandparents, what seems to be millions of cousins, and children and grandchildren of my own. I don’t even feel old enough to have grandchildren. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was a bored teenager, chafing at the banality of my country life? And yet, as I speak of family, my mom is not here.
But Spot, the dog has family here, too, and the garden has changed over time. No longer the strict French garden I crafted the last time we spoke. There are still sculptured hedges and geometric patterns, but now there are overgrown areas with little niches for privacy, and a few areas where new wildflowers have sprung up. Yes, wildflowers, not weeds.
And there is a little cottage surrounded by a copse of birch trees. The Elder lives there. I don’t know when he showed up or how long he has been there, but he writes in a ledger every day, making note of the changes and the things that have remained the same. And now, it is time for me to talk to him because I think he knows our own traditions better than I do, and I’ve received an offer for the garden and the land. I don’t want to sell. We’ve made this place our own, but it’s true, there are starting to be some struggles. The young ones want to make everything modern. The grandparents don’t want to change anything at all. We need to find a way to move forward without giving up what makes this us. We need to know which traditions to keep and which to let go.
But when I get to the Elder’s cottage, I find the door open and the room empty. Oh, there’s a bed and covers, a well-stocked kitchen, no sign of hurried packing . . . and yet, there is no Elder. I make my way to the back porch, where I know he likes to swing on the porch swing, but nope, not there either. Is he out in the garden? I am about to leave when I come face to face with the door. The entrance door, but now, the exit door. And it has a mirror on it. I see my face: old, wrinkled, with a twinkle in the eye. And I understand. There never was an Elder. I am the Elder.
I return to the main room and take out a large black binder. In it are all the comments I’ve made over time. I know now that I’m the one who has to decide: this is a tradition we are keeping. This is an area where we can modernize. Ethics and family are of utmost concern. After that are the little idiosyncrasies that seem purposeless to the newer generation, but that I know links us together. That is their purpose.
Everything else can go, but these, this is how we do things in Heritage Park.