Betting Against the Shrubs

When we first planted the hopseed bushes against the back wall, Tyler and I took bets on which would clear the top of the wall first. For months they didn’t feel like they grew at all. Because we didn’t -- and still don’t -- have a sprinkler system, Tyler went out -- and still goes out -- to water them every day, filling the basins to the brim, just short of overflowing.

Tyler bet the third one from the left. I bet the third from the right.

It’s been about a year since we planted them, spaced apart and towering only two feet off the dirt. For months they didn’t move. Or at least they felt like they didn’t.

The other day I looked back at pictures of when we first planted them. They seems so little. They’ve grown substantially since then but I haven’t ever walked outside and said “Wow, look at how much those bushes have grown.” Their growth from day to day has been too insignificant to notice.

They’ve grown so gradually that it feels like they were at a standstill.

Until you take a year at a time.

Tyler and I celebrated our five-year anniversary last weekend. And it seems to me that change is constant and yet completely invisible.

At any given moment in these last five years I would have told you my marriage and my life looks the same as the day before, the week before, the month before.

But when I stand back and I see it from a distance, I have a much different perspective. Our one-year anniversary was far different than our five-year. We’ve figured a few things out. We’ve learned how to have disagreements instead of fights (at least most the time); we’ve learned unloading the dishwasher is always a safe bet and that discussing things when hungry or tired is a terrible idea. We’ve learned to find the gray area among the black and white.

In the end, neither one of us won the bet. The fifth from the left outpaced them all. 

In another year or two the Hopseed bushes will be fuller than they are now, hopefully blocking all the old-lady laundry hanging on the clothesline in our neighbors backyard. They’re getting more dense and taller and continuing to put one small leaf in front of the other.