Under the Black Blanket

07/17/11

How My Garden Grows

A poster with twelve species of flowers or clu...

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Midsummer rolls around every year provoking an urge I am unaware of for the other eleven months. That is, to get out and "garden."

I use that word cautiously because the only thing my green space has in common with other people's plots under the same name is that it is also, mainly green. It is also dangerously green, and cannot be entered without a biohazard suit for the poison ivy. I don't have a BH suit (it has been on my Christmas wish-list, along with a flybot, for some years). I make do with a post-gardening scrub-down of Tecnu, a probably also hazardous trademarked industrial solvent and the only thing that stands between me and four weeks of nasty, itching rash.

Around about mid-July is when our friends' and neighbors' plots are blooming with colorful flowers whose names I only know from Victorian poetry, and proliferations of neat little shoots that will eventually produce vegetables they can eat and, in some cases, give away to us because their horticultural efforts were so successful.

Now we notice the results of those hours in March or January or May (when do they do all this work?) when our friends and neighbors kneeled over their projects, backs aching, hands callousing, fingernails crammed with dirt, while we read the paper, lolled on our backs, flicked the remote.

Driven by shame and envy in equal parts, with the year more than half over, I dove in yesterday and started pulling up weeds, trying to locate and not tear out the flowers I transplanted last year around this time.

I couldn't actually begin this weeding process until the flowers bloomed, because I couldn't tell the flowers from the weeds.

With a noseful of gnats, and a wagon-load of ripped-out pricker bushes and probably poison ivy that I left in plain view and will not dispose of for a while because without it, there would be scant evidence of my efforts, I can now see that at the top of the rise by the side door, there's a patch of surviving red bee balm. There are a few orange day lilies and hostas too.

Success.

Back in the hammock, if I tilt my head and squint just right, my little piece of paradise has some petals in it.

I know there's a lazy little pig or chicken parable that I should be remembering here. But I prefer the long, somnolent view. In deep time, I, this house and this hill are dust and rock. For the record, on July 16, 2011, for a day, it and its inhabitant produced some flowers.

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