....Thus life has been an endless line of land
receding endlessly.... And so that's that,
you say under your breath, and wave your hand,
and then your handkerchief, and then your hat.
To all these things I've said the fatal word....
"Softest of tongues" Vladimir Nabokov (the fatal word is "прощание"=farewell: pronounced "praschay" more or less...)
Don't be alarmed: I'm not going anywhere. Yet. I am simply acknowledging the universality of leavetaking (something we do every day: you break a spatula. You throw it away--and shall never see it again [ever] although it was something you used for years almost every day): that simple parting repeats itself every moment: that very breath is gone never to return, that sunset was unique and evanescent--and then there comes a certain age when you quite often see old friends for the last time quite frequently: I took leave of more people in the last year, shaking their hands or even hugging them for the last time (and yet not realizing it would be so until a few weeks or months later when I attended their funerals...)
Vladimir Nabokov (far and away my favorite 20th Century author) wrote "Softest of Tongues" in the Atlantic Monthly in 1941--saying farewell to the Russian Language which he had decided to abandon in favor of English (he was 42 years old, and had been writing professionally in Russian for nearly 20 years at that point--and had come to be acknowledged by many emigres as their premier author at the time). Leaving your native language for a writer is a sort of death. Venturing forth in a new language...with tools of stone as he says...he had no idea where it would lead. But he captured that extraordinary pang of loss in that superb little poem...although he does revisit the Russian Language in his second greatest English poem a few years later: you can actually hear him reciting "An Evening of Russian Poetry" in 1958 if you click on that link! More bittersweet nostalgia for us "preterists" (and heady stuff it is too if you grok it).
But this is blog is not about Nabokov: it's about leavetaking of gardens and suchlike: some merely change. For nearly ten years I helped create and maintain (along with Denver Master Gardeners) a garden for Mayor Hickenlooper at Civic Center: last summer it was completely changed and is now maintained by Parks staff again: I shall have to dedicate a whole Blog to that bittersweet story [it might even merit a book]. Here is a picture of that garden a few years ago...
And likewise Centennial Garden (which I helped design)--once one of four of DBG's "main" gardens, it was jettisoned (for those everpresent fiscal reasons) four or more years ago and is now succumbing to a sort of elegant entropy: here's a picture of Centennial in the spring:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.