Tag Archives: garden

East Wind Blowing

IMG_4878The robins are coming to life.  The loose flocks lurking around the neighborhood are now moving in, feasting on the red holly berries that just turned the proper degree of ripeness after January’s crisp nights.

The activity in the backyard this morning caught my eye as the robins darted from pine to holly and then back again, like trapeze artists in a circus performance.

A plump, speckled one suddenly landed on the fence, eyeing me as I came out the back door for a closer look.

Round, red breast.
Beady, black eye.
Fast, firm grip.

She contemplated me, pausing for a moment in the work of her life: to pluck ripe berries before making her way up North for nest-building time.  It’s a natural process that can’t be stopped; a force of nature that can’t avoided.

“You better be ready for a growth stage,” she seemed to say, eyeing me steadily.

I’m a bit surprised to find that I am.

IMG_4383As I look at the photos of the new house I covet—a cute cottage, just the right size, in just the right neighborhood—I realize I’m actually looking forward to change.  I’m not holding on to this place.  The bright red door of possibility is as warm and welcoming as the robin’s breast.

“Change is coming,” the robin told me. “You must learn to tolerate the strain.  Don’t let Change stomp all over you with clumsy work boots and thick soles.  Let Change gently blow you to your new destination, like the East wind that brought Mary Poppins to #17 Cherry Tree Lane.”

It’s true that change is inevitable, like the turn of the seasons, like the robins’ need to eat and  migrate, like the balmy spring that will follow the frozen winter of my heart.

Spring is my favorite season, after all.  Perhaps I can tuck its blooms into my own red breast and get ready to migrate to my new home.

Here.
In the garden.

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Where have all the monarchs gone?

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Where have all the monarchs gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the monarchs gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the monarchs gone?
Monsanto’s killed them, every one.
When will we ever learn?
Oh, when will we ever learn?

I have not seen a single monarch in my garden yet this year.  Not a single one.

Where have they gone?

Last year at this time I was watching my second batch of chrysalises hatching, their green bodies with golden spots hanging in my garden like fancy Christmas ornaments.  One weekend, I watched 13 emerge in one 48-hour period, each one dropping from its green and gold escape hatch to lower its crumpled, wet wings, hanging there, letting gravity do its work until with one, then two, then a few wing flappings, it was suddenly, miraculously, ready to fly.

I remember one bent-wing one, the tip of its orange and black velvet wing folded, hampering it, so that it could not fly properly.  I tried to help it, putting it on my finger, moving if off the flagstones to a different spot, hoping it would be able to literally rise above its circumstances and fly beyond the garden walls.

It could not.

It died, eventually, its speckled body lying prostrate on the ground, belly up, it’s wings gradually tearing and breaking down further, until Nature took her back again.

I am OK with Nature taking back her own.

What I cannot abide is the wanton destruction of the butterfly garden by unconscious acts that sterilize the earth, kill off the milkweed, and turn Nature into an orderly prison of concrete lines, little boxes and sterile fields.

I read the other day that the monarchs are being killed off because we insist on spraying RoundUp chemicals on roadsides and farm fields, to kill off weeds, and that it’s killing the milkweed monarchs need to survive.

Migrating monarchs used to cover 45 acres in Mexico; now they are down to 1.65. They’ve gone  from 1 billion total the year before RoundUp use to 33 million now. More info here.

And people wonder why I do not spray RoundUp in my yard.

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“War is not healthy for children and other living things,” said the poster in our kitchen on our organic farm where I grew up.

Neither is RoundUp.

Where have all the monarchs gone?
We’ve killed them off, every one.
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Here.
In the garden.

 

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June 3, 2014 · 8:11 am

The Perfect Job

ImageI found the perfect job for my 17-year-old son the other day.  It’s at the Wild Birds Unlimited store.  They need someone to unload the seed bags from the truck, move heavy boxes, and attend to the sales floor if needed.
Someone who likes nature.
Who likes birds.
Who likes people.
It’s perfect for him!

Which is why, when I suggested it, he immediately said, “No.”

“Sure, Mom.  I can just hear me telling my friends, ‘I can’t hang out with you because I have to go to work at the Wild Birds store,'” he said, a slight smile curving his lips.  Like, “Aww, Mom.  Aren’t you cute!” and then, “Fuggetaboutit!”

Sigh.  OK. That plan did not work out.  Big surprise. However, I won’t lose hope.  His dad has big plans to get him a job this summer, so I’ll wait to see how that works out.

In the meantime, my 19-year-old daughter is home from college, and, after a stimulating conversation last week about why I will not provide unlimited funds for new clothes, even if she goes to Forever 21, she called up a few restaurants to set up interviews. The next day, she got a job.  Then she applied for an internship at the Women’s Center, and on Monday, she was working there.

So there you go.  And I had absolutely nothing to do with it.  Well, maybe a little to do with it.  But, I’m thrilled. It seems that my children DO have their own ideas and opinions, so, I need to let them try them out.

This morning, I’m sitting here in my garden, watching the juvenile bluebirds hanging around the mealworm dish.  They open their mouths, hoping the parents will feed them.  But it seems that won’t work anymore. The parents ignore them and then fly off back to the nest box to feed the newest clutch. It’s time for these fledglings to fend for themselves.

So, here we are, sharing that experience, me and the bluebirds, as we watch out children grow.  We are doing what we have to do, even if it hurts a little to let them go.

Here.
In the garden.

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Forsythia

IMG_5595I bought some forsythia blooms yesterday.

We had a giant forsythia bush on the farm up North, right off the back porch, tucked between the pantry and the lilac bush.

It was the early harbinger of spring.  In the cold, gray Pennsylvania winters, I looked eagerly for those first signs of awakening life to break the dreary landscape.

First, I’d notice the ground getting mushy, half frozen, half thawed. I’d step off the back porch, over the little stone ditch, and my rubber boots would sink into the squishy ground, the thin brown grass under the snow just holding both soil and tread.

A quick left turn, perhaps a slight slide in the mud, and the forsythia would be on my left as I rounded the corner, picking my way toward the Springhouse. The dark stand of bare branches stood silently, and I’d notice the swelling buds. Just a few more days, perhaps.

Soon, a tiny burst of yellow would burst open, like popcorn, and then another, and then another, and suddenly the bush became a cloud of yellow, with a bit of green mixed in among the blossoms. The neat, square, four-pronged blossoms smiled as they gently waved in the breeze.

The wind took their spring message and sent it to the daffodils on the nearby pasture slope.  Their thin green prong leaves and tight buds poked out of the still-wet earth, and soon burst into an echo of yellow color, nodding “Yes!”

Weeks later, among heart-shaped leaves, the luxurious mini-piles of lilac flowers would unfurl, each bloom stacked like the full skirt of a swirling ball gown, elegant, scented, lovely.

By then, the forsythia blooms had melted into soft green leaves, and waited, once again, for their turn, their chance to dance in springtime winds again.

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Springtime

IMG_5239Spring shadows and first lilies.
The nuthatches have nested in the bluebird box and
the cool weather will soon be gone.
Just not quite yet.

 

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Camille’s Birthday

Journal Entry
February 19, 2014

Camille’s Birthday

Oh, what a joy it is, to have a daughter!
Oh, how I can remember EXACTLY
what it was like when she was born —
the entire birth process, from waking up at 3 a.m.
when I felt the contractions start
to driving to the hospital
(and stopping for video camera cartridges)
and how the bumps in the road
triggered more contractions,
and standing in the bathroom
alone feeling a little sorry for myself,
knowing the pain that was coming,
to sitting in my bed
to try to manage my contractions
(dumb; I worked so hard at it that
I actually slowed down the birth process,

which Jack later pointed out),
to fussing at him for making noises
like crackling the newspaper and
squeaking his shoes on the floor,
to him feeding me ice chips from a styrofoam cup
to almost throwing up

from the pain and holding on to him
and then standing up and pushing with him
for three entire hours! and then seeing the crown
of her head in the mirror and summoning
the last of my strength
to push push push so they would not have to
grab her head with the suction cup
and then finally, finally out she came,
that beautiful rose-colored baby 8 pounds 9 ounces
I will never forget
and her will her indomitable will
as she lustily cried her lungs out while the poor nurses
tried to clean her up and ink her foot for a footprint,
and then wrapped in my arms again, tight
in a cotton blanket with a knit cap
in baby colors against our red and blue pillow case
behind me as I looked down at her
feeling absolutely triumphant
and Jack was outside crying
and then we were back again together
showing her off to family but
I never once never even once thought of
letting anyone else hold her
and then finally the next day my mother came
and she held her in her lap
and unwrapped the blankets so she could see
her perfect little body with her strawberry mark
on her shoulder and the dark, dark hair
covering her head, and Jack’s face
inches from hers adoring her
and we were so, so happy.

Camille Rose Guidry
February 19, 1995
9:19 p.m.
Touro Infirmary
New Orleans, Louisiana

photo

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Poem about last night

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They arrived in the dark.
I’d lit candles all around the house,
except on the big table. Waiting.

Wrapped in colorful coats, holding
purses and journals and expectations,
they alighted on my doorstep.

Bird by bird.

I embraced them all,
even the strangers.

They circled around the kitchen
counter, got their drinks, and
pecked at the snacks.

Names were exchanged,
connections were made,
compliments were shared.

No one questioned why I had
a Jane Austen ball gown hanging
on my pantry door. (until later)

Then we gathered in the circle,
and breathed our collective breath.

Inhale.
Exhale.
Inhale.
Exhale.
Inhale.
Exhale.

The pens, and one pencil, emerged.
Some timidly, some boldly,
to scribe their words.

They were heard.
Names were dropped into the circle, like seeds.
Words, intentions, hopes and dreams were shared.
The candle flickered, and held their secrets.

They left in a flurry of jangling car keys,
re-wrapped grace scarves and last-minute questions,
and returned to the darkness from which they came.

But perhaps each carried, in their
hearts, the lit candle, a bit of warmth,
a sip of the sacred.

I cleaned up the kitchen,
went to bed, and closed my eyes.
When I opened them again, this time really opened them,
there they were, the birds, on the feeder.
Waiting for more.

Here.
In the garden.

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