Monthly Archives: August 2012

Love and Hate in the Garden

We thought we had cut the bottlebrush shrub down for good, but it was soon evident that he took it as a pruning for more vigor. That was a long time ago. Ever since this Callistemon showed us who is boss we have liked him even less, and try not to look at him except for about twice a year when we hack away at his skyrocketing branches to let more sun shine on our nearby vegetables.

We were doing that yesterday when I noticed the lone first flower of the season, barely opening, and it didn’t seem so brash and domineering when in a tender phase. I let him into the house.

On the left is a photo of the amazing Early Girl tomato vine. My husband wanted to plant anything but Early Girls this year, because after 30 years of being The Best and most famous of our tomatoes, superior in every way, they were disappointing for five years in a row.

I begged to plant just one Early Girl, and she has turned out to be the largest of our ten tomato bushes, with the biggest and most perfect fruits, and the consistently wonderful flavor we expect. She did not want to be cast off, so she tried really hard this time – that seems the obvious message. I will never again even think of forsaking her.

In the tomato photo you can also see the tree collard emerging from the ground like a dowel on the right side of the staked vine, and leafing out on the left side.

It’s great, in theory, to have a perennial leafy green vegetable always ready for the picking, but our garden is simply not big enough to accommodate such a meandering type. I don’t think I had ever harvested one leaf, and he was suffering an aphid infestation again, so I removed Mr. Tree Collard. Above right you can see him before he went into the yard waste bin.

This is the Summer of Parsley. I like to let parsley go to seed and sow itself where it will, and in the spring there were lots of little seedlings which I stuck in here and there. They’ve now formed thick hedgerows in some places, I’ve got plenty to cook with, and new seed heads are starting to hang across the sidewalk.

That’s not convenient, so I put those pretty sprigs into a vase with the budding bottlebrush. The parsley had been growing right under the shrub, so they weren’t complete strangers. To all appearances they are getting along, and each has something to contribute to a relationship that is proving to be a boon to the household.


In the last minute of the first hour.

My man and I laughed out loud over coffee and Wendy Cope’s poems this morning. I’ve had time and memory on my mind lately so I especially appreciated a lighthearted treatment of the subject in this one:

A Nursery Rhyme
as it might have been written 
by T.S. Eliot


Because time will not run backwards
Because time
Because time will not run
                                         Hickory dickory
In the last minute of the first hour
I saw the mouse ascend the ancient timepiece,
Claws whispering like wind in dry hyacinths.
One o’clock,
The street lamp said,
‘Remark the mouse that races towards the carpet.’
And the unstilled wheel still turning
                                                          Hickory dickory
                                                          Hickory dickory


— Wendy Cope             

Lost in a very good dream…


Coming home from the mountains last week, I didn’t have the usual thoughts of “That was lovely, but I have lots of things to do at home now and I can’t wait to get started.” No, this time I was mostly sad to say good-bye, and also couldn’t find good words to go with my pictures.

But one of our guests up there managed in her thank-you note yesterday to take away my sadness with her response to the few higher-elevation days we shared. I’m making her my guest blogger today. (Her thoughts in brown.)

Mountain time is a time-out from time, 
like the timelessness of being 
lost in a very good dream.
little lupine plants

When we came down from Gumdrop Dome the ground under the forest was scattered everywhere with tiny lupine plants. I wonder what month I would need to be there to see the slopes covered with tiny purple spikes?

… the dilated twinkle of 100 billion stars in the night sky (which reductionistically would take 3,000 yrs. to count.)

Of our three nights at over 8,000 feet elevation, we had only one night’s opening in the clouds to see the star glory. We missed most of the meteor shower — still, we saw a few shooting stars. And we gawked at the Milky Way, and were happy that the air was unbelievably warm all during our stay, day and night, so that we could gawk longer.

overlooking a canyon
All the sweet consolations of fragrant fresh mountain air, delicious soft water, 
warm sleepy nights… 

…laughter, storytelling, hiking and/or trying to chase Mr. Glad up Gumdrop Dome (in a loony-tune cartoon, some of us could take a running start up a sheer vertical rock face, hauling a low center of big gravity, our momentum so great that we actually overshoot the summit –beating him to the base – but unfortunately, not in one piece).

swooping in to join the fray
the terrible joy 
of ecstatic hummingbirds