Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How Gardening Is Not Writing

Monarda bradburiana
You know how it is in June, if you have a couple of days off work. You look out the window during breakfast and the sun is shining and you can't help yourself, you take your coffee and walk out of doors into the garden and you watch the birds and notice that the peonies will definitely open this day; you don't intend to do much, just a brief look about before heading in to write. After all, somewhere W. H. Auden mentions a walk around the garden before setting to work--and then you notice some weeds that need pulling, so you do that, and might be on the way indoors when you realize the tomatoes you'd started but hadn't planted out because of all the rain are still sitting in their cellpacks, so you put them in, and along the way you see that the bumblebees prefer the Monarda bradburiana, while the honeybees are busy at the nepeta--but the carpenter bees seem to like everything, and meanwhile, you put in the columbine and prairie dropseed starts and pull up some coreopsis that's crowding the Monarda, and then you look across the yard, past where the bees are working the clover, and decide you may as well start setting the bricks where you're making an edge for the newly-wider flowerbed around the viburnum. Several hours go by, with stops for water, and suddenly it's time to make supper. But then later that evening you can't stay inside, so you trim the yews, and that night fall in bed exhausted.

 Spring Azure (Celastrina argiolus)
And next day, the same thing happens, except this time the hummingbird shows up, a female, which means there's a nest somewhere nearby and you've achieved your goal of attracting breeding as well as migrating hummers. You remember that Auden wasn't the gardener in the house, and while thinking this you somehow end up by the compost heap, which needs turning, so you get the fork and your favorite short-handled shovel and start in, it's practically a bog at the bottom there's been so much rain, but look, there's some good compost, so you get the sifter and the wheelbarrow and set to work and pretty soon there's a barrow full of clean compost, no bindweed roots at all, so what to do? Plant the two baby oaks with a good helping of compost and dig some in where the old Norway maple had depleted the soil, and plant the little spicebushes--and a spring azure flashes by, right down the line, past the willow amsonia, the columbines and over the now-blooming peonies; then you transplant the parsley, plant the cilantro seeds, lightly cultivate around the chard and the leeks need thinning, so you do that and go put the thinnings in the bag you keep in the freezer for stock-making vegetables, and head right back out, you've succumbed, and by this time you aren't even thinking in words, just colors, shapes, relationships and movements…

Related Posts:
A Question of Trees
Hummingbird Sightings
Compost By Any Other Name
I've Been Away
The Ugly Garden Kerfluffle

11 comments:

Janet said...

What a delightful post. It made me smile as i went into the garden with my coffee first thing this morning. I pulled out a few weeds that I noticed. And I haven't even got dressed yet.....

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Hi Janet,
Thanks. See, there you are!

squashpractice said...

You have just described pure pleasure! It's cool these June mornings in Oregon, but the garden still calls.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Hi Squashpractice, thanks for stopping by. One of the greatest pleasures, I think.

Thomas said...

Ha! This was a delightful post. You describe the very reason I was late to work today. Now with my nine month old, I actually set my alarm an hour earlier to get out to the garden before he wakes up. Even when he's awake, I garden with him on my hip. I've gotten pretty good at pulling weeds with one hand, or watering while wrestling with my squirming baby. I'm sure to my neighbors, I'm "that guy in the garden with the poor baby" . . .

This post made me want to log off this darn computer . . .

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Hi Thomas,

Very funny! I, too, have gardened with baby on hip.

Carol said...

Inspiringly written and witty post Adrian! Just delicious! What gardener could not relate. Thank you . . . a true joy. Pre tick days I would go out in my pjs and begin work . . . and an hour or more would go by. I had only gone out to pick some asparagus! I love, love your writing!

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Hi Carol, thank you very much for the good words.

Too bad about the ticks! We have a mosquitoes/west Nile virus thing around here. Well, ticks too, but in the woods, not the backyard.

garden girl said...

Yep, that's the way of it! Gardening isn't writing, but in this case it certainly inspired some lovely, humorous, and very relatable prose

Don Moorman said...

Howdy. I wish we had more time to talk about permaculture at ILYM. But hey, there's the internet. The book I mentioned was Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison and Reny Mia Slay. Also, if you can find it at a library, you might sink your teeth into Mollison's Permaculture: A Designer's Manual. Feel free to email me!

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Hi G. G. Thanks for the good words. I was laughing at myself.

Hi Don M. I wish we could have further discussed permaculture, as well. I'll check out those books-thanks for the suggestions.