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By Mary Friedel-Hunt

It is spring. I wondered for a while whether or not it would arrive this year, but the snow in our village is slowly melting. I have visions of the red hibiscus the size of dinner plates, fern, purple clematis, hosta and more that grace the front yard. The thought of flowers lifts my spirits and reminds me of the ethereal with their fragility and colors. In the presence of birds, butterflies and flowers, I feel myself lifted to a world beyond.

This spring and summer I will be dedicating a great deal of time to creating a garden in my back yard. This is a big space surrounded by a wooden fence that allows our golden retriever, Bentley, the freedom to run and be safe. It is surrounded on the outside of the fence by lilac bushes and arbor vitae. But the space inside the fence awaits serious attention. The trees that graced the yard were destroyed last summer by lightning and wind. So this year I will be planting a couple of trees and creating as many flower beds as this now 73-year-old body can manage to create.

I am not a gardener. I grew up in Chicago apartments and in a suburb with a yard barely large enough to grow anything more than a border of plants. My mother did well with that space, but at the time, I was more interested in my social life than in gardening. From those early days, I lived in a variety of places, but none of them found me on my knees planting seeds. So this summer I will become a gardener. How grateful I am to have friends who have offered to give me seeds and plants; and one friend, a master gardener, who is excited to assist me.

I visualize irises, Shasta daisies, tulips, daffodils and more gracing this space and feel a surge of excitement at the thought of sitting in the midst of this beauty, drinking my morning tea as Bentley sleeps in the shade.

It is never too late to begin a new journey. Since Bill died, I have taken up watercolor, become half of a Pet Partner Therapy Dog team (Bentley being the other half), and delved deeply into end-of-life issues by spending hour after hour reading books and research articles, attending conferences and walking with friends who are dealing with the loss of loved ones, including their pets. Now I will add gardening to my new path in life.

What is next? I have no clue as I sit here today, but I can guarantee that there will be more adventures into new worlds. I share this to encourage everyone to never give up. Do not let age, illness, loss or anything else stop you from investigating new worlds. As age slows our bodies — and even our minds — there are still worlds to check out, still adventures to be had, and always new interests just waiting for our attention.

Now it is time to get those seed catalogues and plan my garden.


Mary Friedel-Hunt, MA LCWS, is a freelance writer and psychotherapist in the Madison area. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or P.O. Box 1036, Spring Green, WI 53588.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 2:19 PM


0 #1 2013-10-24 00:01
I read this with tears streaming down my face. Lady is my smallest rescue & first one to become a therapy dog. It had been a goal to do that kind of work but I never had the time. Then I got very ill. I was fired from my job & had to go on disability. My world changed. My dogs had always been my salvation, my best friends. While Lady is small, she doesn't lack spirit . She comforts me with my illnesses. I signed up for the Pet Partners course & Lady I began our training.. That was 2 years ago. It has been 1 of the most life-changing experiences in all my 41-yrs. To see the delight in the faces of those we visit, nothing comes close to that.. She has not only been a gift in my life helping me with my illnesses, but a gift to others as well. It is simply impossible to underestimate the raw power of an animal's love.

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