This essay by Lynn Steiner originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Northern Gardener. A former editor of Northern Gardener, Lynn was the Northern Natives columnist since 2004. All of us at MSHS wish Lynn the very best in her new adventures.
My husband and I are getting ready to move from Minnesota to New England, so I have been saying a lot of good-byes lately. It’s not easy, but in today’s world I know that I will be able to stay in touch with friends and family through social media, Facetime, email, phone calls and texts. It’s not the same as spending time with them, but I will still be able to hear their voices and see their expressions as we talk. And I plan to see many of them again in the future as our paths cross, either here or in our new home.
It won’t be the same saying good-bye to my home and gardens. Sure, I have taken hundreds of pictures over the years. And I will certainly use them to remind me of what I lovingly created and cared for over the past 34 years. But pictures won’t give me the whole experience of the place. I won’t be able to hear the grasses rustle in the breeze. Or watch the hummingbirds flit from the monarda to the joe-pye weed. I won’t smell the sweet scent of black snakeroot when it’s in full bloom. Or see the almost daily changes that occur as my woodland garden wakes up in spring. You can’t capture these things in photographs or even videos. You must experience them in real time and real life.
My friends and gardens aren’t the only things I will be saying good-bye to. I have a long relationship with the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, dating back to 1983 when I started as a clerk doing administrative work for the staff of five. It progressed into my position as editor of Northern Gardener (then called Minnesota Horticulturist) for 15 years, from 1987 to 2002. After leaving as editor to become a freelance writer and photographer, I came back to the magazine in 2005 to write the Northern Natives column, which I have happily done for 14 years. All in all, a pretty good run with a great organization, through which I have met so many wonderful people and toured hundreds of beautiful gardens. I know that the organization will continue on well into the future, inspiring many more gardeners who discover this amazing and unique statewide organization. And I will happily watch the progress from a distance.
By now you are wondering why I would move away from my home and gardens and all these things I love. If any of you have children or grandchildren who are miles way, you will understand the pull. I wrote one of my first columns as editor of this magazine right after my oldest son was born. So it seems appropriate I write this last one as I await the birth of my first grandchild. It’s a new phase in my life, and I know it will be filled with great things as we settle into our new home and spend more time with our family.
Of course, most good-byes come with a hello. We are looking forward to exploring New England and finding new public and private gardens to visit, as well as meeting new people and finding new organizations to be a part of.
And, maybe best of all, starting new gardens at our new home—in USDA Zone 6!