Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hit or Miss


The canna 'Tropicana' I bought, dormant, in winter - it was just a bare muddy pot, very heavy, with a few desiccated shreds hanging put of the mud.  In summer it is a mass of huge tropical-looking  leaves striped orange and red and green.  One leaf makes a flower arrangement.  Three leaves make a statement.  The whole pot full of leaves, hard by the back door - it'a a party.  And as colse as I'm going to come this year to a tropical vacation.

The Daffodils from florists' pots, set outside after their bloom is over and they are turning tan and floppy and look frightful on the breakfast table. I  pulled apart the roots like tangled hair, and planted them with a good handful of fertilizer and room to spread.  Now they carpet the hill under the oak, and wave yellow wands at the cars passing by.  And at the gardener.  That would be me.

The forget-me-nots that carpet the shade, from seeds given me by Najat.  No bare earth, that's my motto.  Theirs too.  Thank you Najat.


The rose by the front door.  Selected in deep sorrow the day our Jack Russell, Cricket, died.  In an urgency to plant something, to do something alive on the day of her death we chose a climbing rose from the October dregs at the nursery.  It is moldy and badly behaved, refusing to climb, flinging its powder-coated canes over the lawn and its neighbors, and refusing to go up the wires I have painstakingly tried to tie it to (and painfully, for it is an especially thorny rose).  Plant in haste, repent in leisure.  I plan to prune with my shovel.  Soon.

And this one should properly be called a near miss, for I garden under it every day - the tree that sent huge limbs crashing down.  It missed the house, the grapevines, the horse statue (the dog, the gardener, the grandson, and a million other precious things).  But not by much.

Lying in bed, awakened by the crash, at first we thought the compost tumbler had collapsed.  Then we thought a raccoon had falled out of a tree.  That made us smile; there have been many nights the raccoons have kept us awake (and the dog in a tizzy) with their shrill arguments.  Raccoons need anger management.

Smiling over the bouncing raccoon with the sore butt we fell back asleep.  The next morning the light was different - Storm coming?  Nope, oak fall.  Oops.

One big limb fell and took out three more on the way down.  One branch, as thick as my waist, is completely hollow - just an inch shell of wood, a tube, and the remnants of some woodpecker nests - soft feathers and dried grass.

The massive branches blocked the path to the bottom garden.  The path the mower takes each week.  And the gardener.  Took.  Past tense.  Not this day.

Wally saw me out there with my bow saw, the one with 4 teeth per inch, the one that took a chunk out of my hand a few years ago when I wasn't paying attention.  He said "Why don't you wait for the tree guys?"  Well, because they won't be here for two weeks, and I want to get to the bottom garden.

I sawed.  I wiped the sweat out of my eyes, and the sawdust that was stuck in the sweat, and rested until my arms stopped aching, and I sawed some more.  I wasn't looking for perfect firewood length, just lengths I could move without a crane.  Or a hernia.

It took all day, but I cleared the path.  When the tree guys came to cut and stack, and to do weight reduction on the tree, they shook their heads.  At my strength, not my stubbornness I hope.  Me?  I headed for the bottom lawn with a good book and a cup of tea.  And I think I might be able to raise my arms again soon.  

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