Posted tagged ‘gardens’

“I wonder what ants do on rainy days?”

April 26, 2016

We had rain earlier, but I don’t think it was much as I never heard it. The day is cool and dark. Grace and Fern are here with me but Maddie is hiding. I managed to give her some medicine last night and haven’t seen her since. I checked her usual places, but she has found someplace new. She’ll turn up just in time to get medicine again. After that, I expect her to pack her bags and leave without even saying goodbye.

In the dampness of the morning, I walked around the front garden. All sorts of flowers are peeking out of the ground. I haven’t an idea of what any of them are. Some have spread and my burning bush which was cut to the ground last fall has several small branches. I was worried but was reassured by Sebastien, my landscaper and my neighbor. He was right.

It never entered my head that I would care about a garden or flowers. Even when I first moved in, I didn’t care so much. The garden was behind the front fence so nobody could see my neglect. When Sebastien planted the lawn, he suggested I move the fence behind the garden. That’s when I started to buy plants. I bought perennials and a few annuals but the garden was still sparse looking. I still didn’t care all that much until I saw a garden filled with color and flowers, and it was beautiful. I started buying flowers. I think I have an addiction as I buy some every year. This year, I already have a list, but I need to do some refining. I want flowers which bloom at different times during the summer and fall so the garden will always have color. I’m still taken aback by my flower enthusiasm.

It has started raining again. Maddie just showed up from wherever she has been hiding. She is allowing me to pat her. That will last only for a while as soon enough it will be time for her medicine.

I have always found the rain subduing. Even when I was little I wanted to hear the rain and nothing else. School seemed quiet when it rained. I remember the sounds of papers being moved and pages being turned but no conversations. I don’t even remember the nun teaching us. She too must have listened to the rain. I remember seeing her sitting at her desk looking at papers, but I always thought she was really listening to the rain.

“January brings the snow, makes our feet and fingers glow.”

January 4, 2016

I saw a few snowflakes this morning. At first I wasn’t sure so I kept watching. I saw a few more, not many yet, but it is definitely snow. I checked the local forecast. The prediction is 2 to 4 inches by late afternoon. The sky has that snow look, a light grey almost white, so I’m believing the forecast.

Some things never go away. I love watching snow fall. When I was a kid, I’d sit at the picture window, my elbows resting on the sill and watch the snow falling under the street light. Behind the light was darkness. The falling snow obscured even the neighbors’ houses. The road and the walkways disappeared. Everything looked the same. It was all snow.

I still watch the snow and keep track of how much has fallen. I turn on the outside lights in the back so I can get a close-up view, but it’s different now. Long ago, when I saw snow out the picture window, I had dreams of flying down the hill on my sled. Over and over I’d fly until I could no longer pull the icy rope of my sled for even one more run. I’d be cold, exhausted and exhilarated.

Snow is not for flying when you’re older. Snow becomes an inconvenience. The car needs to be shoveled out, the same with the mail box and the walkway to the car. I don’t do any of it. I just wait for it to be done. I used to do it, but I was much younger then.

I’m going to watch the snow. I still love watching the flakes, and I think newly fallen snow is pretty. It equalizes everything.

” It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”

June 1, 2012

After the heat and humidity of yesterday in particular, today feels a might chilly. The sun is shining but there is a breeze, and the temperature is only 64°.

I love weekday mornings as they are always so quiet. The only sounds are the birds and an occasional car driving by. My get ready for summer activities are almost complete. All the deck window boxes are filled with herbs and the clay pots have flowers. The vegetable garden is full; a few squashes took the empty spaces. The deck has been swept for about the fourth time, and the only cleaning left is the table and a few spots on the chairs. I need to get tubing for my fountain then I can start it running. Once that is done the pageantry can begin. The final pieces will be taken to the deck to assume their rightful spots. First will come the plastic flamingo dressed for summer in its hula skirt and lei. Then the very last piece will be brought from his winter quarters. With flags and triumphant music accompanying this move, out will come the gnome, the Travelocity gnome, who will sit prominently on the deck by the fountain looking like a complete Ozymandias without the sneer. Then and only then can the deck season begin!

Tomorrow my friends Michelle and John will arrive. They live in Ohio and are driving here touring as they come. Michelle and I were in the Peace Corps together. I sometimes stayed with her in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city, on my way north. I always felt like Country Mouse visiting City Mouse. I remember taking a shower in her apartment and finding two faucets: one was for hot water. I was amazed. She had hot water all the time with the turn of a faucet. My hot shower lasted until the flow of water in the pipes warmed by the sun was gone. I always tried to wash my hair under the warmed water as the first blast of cold water on my head was always a shock even though I knew what to expect. Michelle came to Bolga once, and her memory is of being wet from her shower and lying on the bed under the ceiling fan hoping to feel even the tiniest bit of a cool breeze. I always took my shower just before bed, never toweled off and went to bed still soaked from the shower. It was easier that way to fall asleep in the heat.

When I went back to Ghana last summer, I understood Michelle and the heat, but air conditioning had come to Bolga; however, I still didn’t have hot water. That came in a bucket.

“A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.”

May 21, 2012

Today is damp and misty. It is supposed to rain later this afternoon and tomorrow. My landscaper is weeding my garden right now and getting it ready for plants. I’ll be buying them on Wednesday and also the herbs and flowers for my deck planters. Today I have a long list of places I need to go but they’re all within a mile of each other so I don’t have any complaints.

I filled all the bird feeders and the bird baths yesterday. I also put out a new oriole feeder for grape jelly, but I don’t know if the orioles are around yet. I have another new feeder yet to be hung with two bowls so the orioles will get their jelly and some orange nectar. I have a new hummingbird feeder which is also a suncatcher. That will go out a bit later. I’m running out of branches and using poles won’t help as the deck is too high to see them. Maybe there are some I can attach to the deck. I’ll have to do some hunting.

My father planted pansies, geraniums or marigolds in the front garden of my childhood home. That was the only spot for flowers. The sides and middle of the garden also had a few bushes which came with the house. Two fir trees were on the side lawn. The backyard was for the clothes line. His lawn was always beautiful. I think the fathers of the neighborhood gauged their manliness by the quality of their lawns. Some of the yards had lawns filled with weeds and brown spots of dirt, and the fathers who lived there were the objects of disdain.

When I was older and my parents had bought their own house, my father gave guided tours of his lawn. I always armed myself with appropriate adjectives when I was taken on the tour. Every year he’d asked, “Isn’t this the best lawn?” Every year I’d answer yes.

“It happen’d one Day about Noon going towards my Boat, I was exceedingly surpriz’d with the Print of a Man’s naked Foot on the Shore.”

February 2, 2012

If the groundhog lived in these parts, he wouldn’t have seen his shadow today. He’d have seen a sky filled with light gray clouds which cast no shadow.

From my window, it looks cold out, but it is 43°. I figure this sense of feeling cold has to do with the missing sun. When it shines, I have an illusion of warmth.

In my garden, the shoots of the dafs are above the ground. I can even see some buds. Yesterday the local paper had a picture of croci (crocuses if you don’t like the Latin ending) which have bloomed along 6A. These poor spring bulbs have been duped by the warmth of the winter. Every other year I am thrilled to see their shoots popping above the ground as I know spring is near, but not this year. It is February which can be snowy and really cold.

I feel like a hermit. Lately I haven’t been out much. If I didn’t have the dog to talk to, I might just lose my power of speech, but Gracie is just a listener. She cocks her head to acknowledge the conversation but that’s all she offers. I figure it isn’t just me though. We all seem to hibernate in winter. The weather doesn’t invite us out to take a casual ride. I do go out to do errands but I go reluctantly as I hate to leave the warm house and my cozy clothes. Tomorrow is that errand day out of necessity: I’m out of cat food. Gracie and I will go to the dump first then do some grocery shopping. I don’t have anyone to talk to at those either. The dump is always freezing this time of year as the wind whips across the frozen tundra so I quickly go from bin to bin. At the grocery store, the only person I talk to is the deli man when I order.

I do see my friends every Sunday, and we play games and have dinner. Once every couple of weeks we go to trivia on Thursday so I get to practice my communication skills. Sometimes, though, I feel a bit like Robinson Crusoe before he found Friday.

Gardens: Anne Hills

May 9, 2011

“Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us”

April 30, 2011

We have clouds again, and it’s chillier than it has been, but today is perfectly still, not a branch is moving. The day will feel warmer. In the front garden, tulips have bloomed and more of them have budded but are still shut so tightly I can’t tell what colors they are. I thought the squirrels, those spawns of Satan, had eaten all the bulbs just after they were planted as I remember the holes in the garden where I suspected the tulip bulbs had been planted. I was happily surprised to see how many have survived. My lawn is high, time for mowing high.

I still have an iron. It was a house warming gift 34 years ago when I bought my house, and I actually used it. I’d wait until I had several blouses needing ironing then I’d set up the board in here and watch TV as I ironed. I used a spray bottle on the pesky wrinkles and spray starch on the linens. I have no idea the last time I used it, but its time is coming. For my August trip, I bought some new clothes which need touching up so I’m going to haul the board out of the cellar and fire up that iron. In Ghana, I didn’t do my laundry-I paid for it to be done. It was hand washed in a bucket then ironed. The iron was black metal, tall and had a v shape. Under its cover, the inside was empty so it could be  filled with charcoal to produce the heat. I figured it was probably just like the ones pioneers used on all those petticoats. The charcoal iron worked as perfectly as my electric one did. It just took longer to get hot. I never wore anything wrinkled, even with hand wringing and a bucket.

I haven’t thought about that iron in years. I find it especially amazing when one memory leads to uncovering another long hidden in the nooks and crannies of what I call my memory drawers.

“Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment.”

March 23, 2011

The sky is white gray, and it’s cold outside. The paper said snow this evening and tomorrow, not much accumulation, but the mere thought of any bit of snow in late March is just beyond the pale. My father always said snow this time of year is poor man’s fertilizer, and that is about as optimistic as I can be with the weather prediction.

My back is hurting so today is a lazy day. My only chores are paying a few bills, watering the plants and refilling the feeders. I miss seeing my birds.

March always seemed the longest month to me even when I was a kid, and it feels the same to me still. We had only one day off from school, St. Patrick’s day, and no special events broke up the rest of the month. Most times the weather kept us inside after school, and I’d spend the time reading or we’d play games at the kitchen table until dinner. Only the Saturday matinee and church on Sunday broke up the week.

April has a magic about it. The air smells sweet, and the grass is a brighter green and soft to the touch. The garden is finally awake, flowers are blooming and the sun seems to shine every day. All of a sudden we too are bright with color. Pastels take over from the winter grays and dark blues and our ears feel the breeze and our hands stay warm even without gloves. Only at night does it feel chilly again, but by then we are warm and cozy inside the house tired from a day of school and from playing all afternoon.

I’m counting the days until April and eagerly awaiting that first warm day when I can sit on the deck, smell the sweetness of the air and close my eyes to listen to the sounds of spring.

“A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will’s freedom after it.”

September 28, 2010

It’s a warm day which can’t seem to make up its mind. We had sun then clouds, then sun again, and now it’s cloudy. The weatherman said maybe rain, and that’s the forecast for most of this week, maybe rain. Sebastian, the younger, worked on my garden all morning; he is the younger as Sebastian, the older, is my neighbor and the boss of the landscaping crew. The Sebastians are not related and share only a name and a nationality, Brazilian. The younger planted grass seed on bare spots, moved day lilies, cut down the dead flower stalks, trimmed bushes, weeded my herb garden, got rid of the mint and planted the mums I’d bought and be given as gifts. The garden has been readied for winter.

My mother made great school lunches. She never gave us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Most days we had bologna. On Friday it was tuna. On really cold days we had hot soup in our thermoses. Chicken noodle was a favorite. I remember my lunchboxes always had wire holders to keep the thermos from moving around and breaking, but one year the thermos broke anyway. I still remember how scared and horrible I felt hearing the sound of the glass shaking inside the thermos. That was the year of no soup. My mother sometimes put in potato chips and she always included dessert. The days after she had grocery shopped were the best for desserts. We’d get a Hostess cupcake or a sno-ball. Later in the week we’d get cookies wrapped in plastic, usually Oreos. We didn’t get fruit all that much, an apple every once in a while. I used to buy my milk. Just before lunch, a milk crate filled with cartons was delivered to the room. The milk was always in one of those small waxy cartons which were never easy to open. Good thing they gave us a straw.

We used to keep our lunchboxes under our seats. They never went in the cloak room. When the lunch bell rang, it meant we could talk and soon enough we’d be running outside for recess. For some reason I remember the fourth grade the best when my seat was in the back and my lunchbox was plaid.

“Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn.”

April 25, 2010

Today is a chilly, dreary day with clouds and periodic rain. The weatherman says the next few days won’t be any better.

My front walk is lined with potted flowers and herbs waiting to be planted. They are from my first run at the garden center. My herb garden, though, needs to be weeded and cleaned first, but I’m waiting for some sun before I tackle that job. I bought my herbs with recipes in mind. There’s cilantro for Mexican food, spearmint for drinks and thyme for just about anything. The basil will come later. Oregano, sage  and lemon verbena are already growing high in the garden. I can barely wait to snip my own fresh herbs.

I’ll make several trips to the garden center before I’m finished. The front beds need more flowers, the deck flower boxes need to be filled and I want tomato plants. Last year the possum ate my tomatoes. I’m hoping this year I will.

When I was a kid, the only fresh vegetables we ate were carrots, summer corn and fall squashes. I don’t count potatoes because their skins always looked old to me. The rest of our vegetables came from cans. My mother served LeSueur baby peas, French green beans, regular green beans, yellow beans, and corn niblets. She also served creamed corn, but I always thought it look gross. My father liked canned asparagus, but the rest of us didn’t.

I roamed all over town, and I don’t remember a single backyard vegetable garden. Nobody had little stands in front of their houses selling mounds of zucchini or bags of native tomatoes. I remember the lady across the street had grape arbors, and I thought that was amazing because I got to see grapes growing in the wild and eat some fresh off the vines. They tasted spectacular.