A repurposed galvanized steel planter, with iron scraps found on the farm grounds.
There’s just something about the contrast between galvanized steel & plant life, the inanimate & the organic that holds such appeal for me. Giving old or decayed objects new life gives me hope, like nothing is truly beyond recovering. Often, I think about my own faults & imperfections, like other introverts lost in deep periods of self-reflection. The criticism I receive lives far longer in my mind than compliments or successes. It’s as if I lower my expectations, or, even worse, I discount the positive.
More plants, including a hoya in bloom, with steel or tin.
Of course, I do realize much of this stems from my perception of myself & the world around me, as the cracked lens of loss refracts any experience into something other, foreign, that which few others see. That can create a feeling of never being understood, despite effort or attempts to express that which could never be expressed. Caught between a rock & a hard place. Like a plant that emerges from the fissure in stone or asphalt, my being searches for a chink in the armor where light can flood out, illuminating the encompassing dark. Encouraging growth once again.
Granite serves a similar function in the garden, creating a dramatic juxtaposition.
Some of this imagery may feel similar, a recurring motif in my writing, as this contrast runs through my life, especially during the toughest periods, deaths of family & friendships. These crucibles or forges either galvanize steel into formidable mettle or calcify chambers of my heart into granite. Yet, from that, an appreciation for what remains spring ups from the ruins, what it is that persists despite everything. That process can be a very beautiful thing in & of itself.
Maybe that’s why I love defunct lanterns, symbolically? Am I like Diogenes, carrying a lamp searching for an honest man? But realizing that I wouldn’t recognize him if I saw him? My lanterns tend to be rusty, decayed, eroded, deteriorated, out of use. That must be a metaphor for something. I don’t want the past to be forgotten, but life must also continue. There’s the rub.
Is this the compromise? The uncanny sight of something I once recognized as new & familiar in function; yet, now, time has ravaged that thing into something noticeably different, not the same, fitting a new purpose. And am I okay seeing & accepting that transformation, acknowledging the sadness of letting go of the old? The memory? Can I be okay with that something new, that thing birthed from loss?
I think I can, if I can see the new life, the carrying on, that not all is lost. Something must remain. Otherwise, did it ever exist? Often, I don’t know.
A rusty lantern as a garden feature.
Whatever the reason, sights like these, old objects & new life, reassure me. As an introvert who thinks deeply (when given the very rare time), I try to reconcile that radical contrast into aesthetic beauty. For one like me who might be considered flinty, steely, a rock of support for many, I still want my human fragility & vulnerability to be acknowledged. Too many need me to be that firm support, even if parts of my heart flake away & disintegrate into rust.
I think I finally understand the Tin Man. Always loved that song by America.
Next time you gaze upon a steel pot-turned-planter or a flower creeping up through some crack in the cement, remember that beauty can be found there, too. Stop a minute to appreciate the beauty in the contrast. As a favor for me.
An antique tool, a tiller, salvaged at the farm.