Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

The Princess Gang rolled into the cul-de-sac on the day Mr. B’s plum tree decided to bloom.

That is the opening line to a story I’ve been playing with for a while, and like most of my mainstream fiction these days, it is based squarely in my real life. The Princess Gang was a cadre of small girls who used to rule the cul-de-sac, roaming their demesne like a pastel cloud of tulle-swathed glitterati. The plum tree was the Italian plum tree I planted in my front garden long before any of the Princess Gang were even born.

It was nearly twenty years ago that my wife and I drove back from the nursery with two plum trees sticking out of the back of our tiny hatchback, dormant branches rattling. I wanted some fruit trees in the front garden. Knowing the soil there was poor and that the area gets a lot of afternoon warmth, I thought a French or an Italian plum tree—no strangers to challenging conditions—would at least have a hope of survival. (more…)

Read Full Post »

It is that time of year when I take my slouch hat off its peg, step into my old green Wellies, head out into the garden, and contemplate shallow graves.

Last week, heavy winds cracked a twenty-foot long limb on the windward side of my blue spruce. As the limb fell the fifty or so feet to the ground, it took three lower limbs with it, all landing with a surprisingly hushed whump amongst the periwinkle. Sadly, one of the falling dead took half of a Japanese maple with it, but thankfully the maple, like the spruce, will survive.

This week, while the wind and snow and rain took a well-deserved breather, I donned my gear—the aforementioned slouch hat and Wellies, plus a billhook, machete, and saw—and made my first foray of the year out into the gardens to address the damage.

My garden in winter is not a lush thing. Though greenery still abides—the mostly moss-green lawn, the leathery green of the swordleaf ferns, the deep green of the periwinkles, and the blue-green of spruce and noble fir—on the whole the garden is spare and somewhat barren. The maples, the fruit trees, the ash and sweetgum, the lilac and willow, they all stand naked and unadorned. Remnants of last year’s blooms—gooseneck, crocosmia, spirea, and rose—huddle with their kind, shriveled and brown, ready for my pruner’s knife. And this year, of course, there was also the pile of timber that the southwesterly gales had so unkindly sent down from the canopy.

As I worked, wielding my blades, hacking branches from limbs, twigs from branches, my thoughts wandered and it struck me that though I usually think of my winter garden as a place of stasis, of rest and preparation, in truth it is more a place of death. My winter garden, amid the snows and rains and gusts of wind, is a locus of liminality where the world waits, caught between one life and the next, existing in both and in neither. All that was of the Year Gone By now lies in a shallow, leaf-strewn grave, ready to rot and return to the earth, while the Year To Come lies ready to burst forth from that very same earth, grave and cradle both.

My New Year’s Eve is not the chimes at midnight, the fireworks’ boom, the pop of champagne. This is my New Year’s Eve, this long turning-over, this slow walk from yesterday into tomorrow, when I can bury the mistakes of my past in the hopes of reaping the future wisdom that grows from their bones.

Life is a cycle, of birth and of death, but life is also cycles within that cycle, patterns within patterns, an intricate and delicate complexity that forms our years, our days, our breaths, the beating of our heart.

It’s not just a garden.

It never was just a garden.

k

Read Full Post »

My cathedral is made of trees, but it has seen the downslope of my attention. Its pillars are still sound, standing strong through storm and summer heat, but the branches and leaves of its soaring roof have become crowded, ragged, thick with deadwood and duff.

Its nave and transept, too, once clear and open, are now overgrown as the plantings set down in years past have grown relentlessly upward, reaching out, filling the vaulted space.

The reason for this deterioration has been my inexhaustible neglect, piled year upon year, as life and events sapped me of my faith, my devotion, my love for this quiet place. Leaving nature to do as nature does has only compounded the situation, as self-sown volunteers sprang up in open spaces, and Seattle’s often rough sea-borne winds snapped off limbs twice as long as I stand tall, dropping their five-stone weights from the canopy down onto the hapless undergrowth below. (more…)

Read Full Post »

In the center of my front room is a table. On that table stands a single vase with a single stem on which is a single bloom.

A rose, the first rose of the summer that is yet to come.

From purple to cerise to pink, the outer petals open to reveal their brethren, rank upon rank, unfolding like Mandelbrot origami, endless, hypnotic to the eye.

A single rose, a flower that can fit in the palm of my hand, and yet it fills the room, side to side, top to bottom, three thousand cubic feet, with the scent of honeyed apricots, sweetened cream, dappled sunlight, and the longing of ancient empires.

Read Full Post »

reaching upward
pruning shears in hand
I straddle the ladder
feet on the top rungs
head in the bare-branched treetop

my breath draws clouds
and the low golden sunlight
melts the dew into mist

I look up
as black rags fly past
congregate in the dark spruces
and caw bloody murder

Read Full Post »

Misty MorningLate winter is my “difficult” season. Maybe it’s Seasonal Affective Disorder. Maybe it’s the combination of allergies and holiday letdown. This year, it’s also the ongoing can’t-look-away train wreck that is our electoral process. Either way, I’ve been depressed and unmotivated for the past couple of months.

Plus, as it’s March, I now have to deal with all sorts of passive-aggressive reminders—in ads, on billboards, and from the end-of-broadcast human-interest fluff pieces on the news—that, here in Seattle, I should be out there jogging, kayaking, hiking, biking, and tossing balls for the dog. It’s my civic duty, the expectation of a nation, that here in this region of stunning natural beauty I will be out, in it, enjoying every second of it that I possibly can.

Feh. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Iris in RainI kneel in the dripping ivy. A trowel in one hand, my other is deep in the soil, searching for the dandelion’s root. The root twists and writhes beneath my fingers, wet and tough, unwilling.

The rain taps across my hat’s felted brim, caresses my steaming back with its cool touch. The spring day is cold, but my work keeps me warm.

The bite of woodsmoke reaches me. I lift my nose and scent the air. My breath comes out a mist.

I grimace as digits plunge farther down into the black loam. The earth envelopes my hand, its serenity infuses me, my worries leach away.

I am the root, now. I am the plant. I am the garden.

k

Pine Pollen

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: