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Posts Tagged ‘garden’

With only some regret, I’ve pulled the last of the tomatillo plants. And just tonight, while a handful of hot peppers are still turning orange on my windowsill, the last of the kale was consumed. Next year, I plant smarter, tend smarter, hopefully cook smarter and eat smarter. That’s what they all say! No traffic jams in the kitchen! Hah!

In any case, it’s almost time to put the garden to bed, and yet I keep finding the most interesting things out there.

I especially like this time of year for its odd mix of hope and resignation. I am relieved and delighted to see that the dogwood I planted just this year survived the drought and indeed has buds that I hope to witness in full flower next spring. If this baby tree had not survived, I would have been put in the awkward position of having a cosmic discussion with the Golden Retriever-in-a-can that I’d planted with it.

Likewise, the rhododendrons have buds, and the little peach tree, in spite of having lost all its fruit shortly after I planted it, seems to be healthy and willing. Sometimes it is wise to hunker down and focus on setting roots, even if it means passing on the flashy stuff.

As I walk in the woods and tidy the garden these days, I remember that there are things that are beautifully and inextricably entwined with their own decay.

It’s a good time of year to share a meal with friends, to visit children and aging parents. It is a good time of year to contemplate the dying and turn toward the living.

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Sweet Supplication Rain

We are in the midst of a worrisome drought. And although we, here in Holyoke, MA, are not in imminent danger, as our friends and family elsewhere in the States have been due to forest fire, it’s been dry, dry, dry.

Actually, I take back that part about imminent danger: the other night after 20 minutes of smelling smoke that I attributed to the neighbors up the hill, who have a fondness for their fire pit (not to mention an obsession with fireworks), I discovered my next door neighbor’s garage lit up like a jack o’ lantern. An undetected ember from the previous day’s grilling extravaganza had been deposited in their trash can and neatly stowed in the garage (thankfully NOT near the mower and gas can), awaiting our usual weekly trash pick up. Twenty four hours later it was fully aflame before they (and I) realized it. They hosed it down and everything’s fine, except for the molten wad of plastic rubbish bin. I watched.

Anyway, this was not meant to be (overtly) a cautionary tale. I have been thinking about the weather again. In my own way. I was thinking about a friend I had back c 1980 for a short bit. Her name was Vicky and her mother was a landscape artist. Vicky earned extra cash by offering a typing service (now that’s a thing of the past). I thought she was very clever because she called it Alice’s Typing Service and so whenever anyone called asking for Alice, she knew it was a business call. This was long before email, multiple phone lines and voicemail, and long before I had any reason to think about the pros and cons of separating my own business life from my personal life. No further comment.

Vicky’s mother was working in watercolors and had gained herself a reputation as a painter of  Prairie landscapes. Vicky was from Kansas. Maybe this painting of her mother’s was in her apartment (in Northampton, MA)? or maybe it was a framed print? I don’t remember, although there was certainly NOT an internet search involved, which is how I came up with it just now (I’m sorry it’s not a better rendering, it’s a beautiful painting):

Joan Foth
Storm Lifting, 1980
Cloud Light Series
watercolor on paper, 25 x 35″

I’m a native to the Northeast, USA, so this image got my attention. In the New England landscape that I am familiar with, that kind of horizontal just doesn’t happen unless you are standing on the shore of the Atlantic. Thirty two years later, I’m still thinking about this.

There’s an adage around here: if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. It’s changeable. Maybe even more so lately. But I also wonder: here in New England, with our hills and valleys, maybe we just don’t see it coming.

There was one time, when I stood on the cottage porch in Gloucester, MA, with Marianne, and we watched something happening way out on the surface of the ocean, that we didn’t understand, until it was suddenly evident that we were seeing serious weather headed our way. We had barely enough time to drag the porch chairs in (which would have been on their way to Liverpool) and set our shoulders against the casement windows which were already being beset upon by fierce winds and soaking rain. Is this what it’s like to live on the prairie? Is that what I’m missing here in NE – an ability to read the horizon?

This afternoon, we finally had some rain. Last night’s event was mostly a light show – enough thunder to send the dog panting under the bed, but not a lot of real juice. Today, the clouds rolled in and spewed huge drops of soaking rain along their trajectory through my northwestern sky, while the sun shone from the southwest. Sun, rain, shadows.

I’m afraid to wish for more. The last time I attempted to invoke the rain during a heat wave was about a year ago. It rained alright. And the storm drain out in the street backed up into my basement. Didn’t see that coming.

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