When we moved here the yard was neglected. We spent our time and money the first year getting windows and ceiling fans and a furnace and a ton of other things we needed to make this house more livable. Old houses are a ton of work!

We applied for and got a grant to plant a rain garden and then Gary decided we needed a butterfly garden as well. I secretly think he wanted these to have less area to mow.

We salvaged the plants we thought weren’t weeds, we gave away hundreds of those dreadful orange ditch lilies until I learned they are invasive and then we yanked and destroyed them. Then we set about preparing the area for the not inexpensive native Wisconsin plants.

Neither of us is a gardener and so we made some questionable decisions early on. Gary gets all the blame for using the soil from the old garden to create the Hostas area. We cut down two pine trees so we’d have sun for the rain and butterfly gardens and Gary dug out the dirt and moved it over. As God is my witness I strongly urged him to get new soil because weeds and grass would be in the dirt. He. Did. Not. Listen. And so every day I’d walk by and pull more and more grass and, thankfully, a diminishing number of weeds. In 2021 we eventually got rid of all the soil and added new fill and then started from scratch with a small portion of the Hosatas you see in this 2020 photo.

The year 2020 started with all kinds of plans. An anniversary trip to Hawaii, a Rotary junket to Kenya, and a week in NY to see my nephew on Broadway in the revival of the Tony Award winning show, Take Me Out. None of those trips happened. We both COVID, we suffered through one of the most contentious and nasty elections in my lifetime, and went to a lot of dog parks around the state.

We swapped travel for Gary’s surgeries; skin cancer removal, prostate surgery the first week of lock down where he was the only person on the floor, and a full hip replacement. And we gardened. Well, I gardened. Have I mentioned that I am not a natural gardener?

Despite my lack of gardening abilities, 2020 was a banner year for the Hostas. Nestled amidst the Hostas is a lily, obviously a holdover from the great dirt debacle. The rest of them we transplanted and last year they exploded into color and they are on their way to being just as gorgeous this year.

I don’t know the real number, but according to my Google search there are 70 species of Hostas and over 3,000 registered varieties. Most of mine are the common Hostas. When I lived in Hawaii I felt like one of the common Hostas. I looked like I fit. I did get asked my ethnic mix, but it was never in a suspicious or nasty way. As I walked down the street I saw people with the same body type, hair, eye, and skin color every single day. There was something comforting about seeing people who looked like me and I miss it.

See that lily in the second picture shoved into that small space surrounded by Hostas? That’s what it feels like for me here in Wisconsin. I’m not in Milwaukee or Madison or Green Bay where there is a more diverse population. Nope, I’m in little old Oshkosh where I can go days without seeing anyone with brown skin. And even when I see, them I don’t know them.

With all that has been going on in the last few years, I’ve been thinking a lot about race and our country. I don’t have a solution and I don’t think there will be an easy one now or maybe ever.

I’ll just need to get used to being a lily again and be kind to all the Hostas and other plants I encounter here and wherever I travel.