No words today; just memories of the whimsy, the wildlings, the wonders, and the worries which have been at my table this spring.
This post comes to you,
just because it’s spring,
and flowers demand attention, with winning ways,
and because I promised Tish Farrell , Writer on the Edge, I would photograph my mini-meadows when they flowered.
I have been in a rough place since my last post. Almost a month ago, I wrote that I wanted to feast on life, not fear. And I really meant it. I really did. But Fear, with its fiendish companion Anxiety, decided it was time to make a meal out of me. They set their teeth into me, tore me apart in their jaws, and tried to devour me chunk by chunk. Most unpleasant. ( I hope they got indigestion.)
Friends and family rallied round and helped me prise loose those nasty jaws, and patched me up. But the struggle has left me tired and short on creativity. Yesterday was the first time in nearly a month that I felt energetic enough to take some photos.
They are not particularly good photos but I am posting them as a way of saying thank you to friends everywhere, and to family, for keeping me steady and upright in recovery.
You are the flowers around me,
you are perfect companions,
and help to keep my pathway blooming.
And, just for fun, let’s lighten the mood with my song of the day
The reasons behind my rough patch are multiple; some are earthquake related stresses, and some are family-related. For privacy reasons I am not able to discuss all of the family-related issues.
Still in the spirit of keeping track of myself ~
ALL GOOD GIFTS ( Incomings):
from Cynthia, author of A Good Home, a dedicated post, accompanied by flowers;
ALL GOOD GIFTS (Outgoings):
for Robbie ( and Lori ), composting my soil in time for Save our Soil Blogger Action Day, and scattering seeds of buckwheat and wildflowers;
for Clare, a beautiful rendition of We Plough the Fields and Scatter,
and a glimpse of a harvest to come,
fed on the sweetness of summer raindrops;
for Cynthia, an arrangement
for a heart’s ease and a heart’s celebration in all things bright and good, no matter how tiny.
For Halloween I treated myself to a simple beaker of flowers.
But I also received another, unexpected, sweet treat for Halloween; a lesson in good citizenship.
Friday morning a stranger knocked on my door; a smiling, cheerful, young woman. She told me that she lived down the lane opposite me. She said she wanted to take her two children trick or treating. Would it be okay if she brought them to my door around 5pm? ( Bear in mind that Halloween is not widely celebrated in New Zealand). She said she was consulting a half-dozen neighbours and that would be more than enough households for her children to visit, and to give them a taste of Halloween fun. They are only little, she said, just 4 and 6, and they are very excited about their Halloween costumes. Of course I said, yes, that would be fine, but I would have to go and buy some sweets because I had nothing suitable in the house. “Oh, please don’t worry about that,” the young mother replied, ” I have prepared sweets for you to give them if you would like to join in.” Whereupon she produced a small ziplock packet of mixed sweeties/candy.
At 5pm exactly, Mum and the littlies came down my driveway, full of chatter and high pitched glee. They knocked on the door and squealed delightedly when I opened it ( I guess I have authentic witchy-white hair!) . “Trick or treat, ” they said in giggly unison. Their mother introduced them to me. Pleasantries exchanged, I produced the sweet assortment, and their little eyes grew round and big with amazement. Hands dipped in to the bag until it was emptied. Then, with a polite thank you or two, the pink-slippered, silver-hatted witch and her Dracula-draped brother skipped off to another happy reception at my neighbour’s.
It was a lovely moment. Possibly one of the best Halloweens I have had; a thoughtful mother, teaching her children that their community is a good place, and that they can be part of the good citizenry that makes it so.
I hope she will, one day, also introduce them to what comes after Halloween; All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Days (also not widely celebrated in New Zealand, as far as I know).
Tonight and tomorrow I will light candles and remember the good citizens of my small world who have died during the past year. Some were old and ready to leave us, whilst others seemed far too young. In particular I want to remember two of our blogging community, Catherine Crout-Habel of Seeking Susan and Christine of Dadirridreaming . Many of you will know other bloggers who have died in the past 12 months. Please feel free to remember them in the comments, if you would like to. They were good citizens enriching, and lighting up, our lives.
Right about now, over at the home of Muse-ings , vsperry will be orchestrating order in an area of her garden which she describes as “A Fine Mess”. I would simply leave out the word “Mess” and call it “Fine”, or, as in the case of my own garden, refer to the “Mess” as ” Channelling one’s inner “Piet Oudolf” (with apologies to Piet 😉 ).
For the greater part of the summer and fall, this wilderness of mostly self-sown plantings was the scene from my bedroom window.
It was a sight that gave me much pleasure, for all the weeds, entangled foliage and seeming disorder.
The garden bed was not carefully planned like one of Piet Oudolf’s masterpieces (OBVIOUSLY), but I did have a plan of sorts, which was to let the garden follow its own course and,
thus, provide a dense and closely woven safe haven for the monarch caterpillars, and a well-stocked larder for the bees and their larger selves, the humblebees.
My plan was a success
buzz vis-a-vis buzz the bees, but a failure as far as the monarchs were concerned. Not one of the many caterpillars made it to butterfly status. That was a disappointment, after my successful monarch season last year, where I helped raise at least twenty monarch butterflies. I don’t know what went wrong this time; perhaps we had too much rain; too little sun? Or, as Russel Ray pointed out to me, my wilderness garden may have provided a haven for the social wasp, arch-enemy of the monarch.
So, with winter approaching and no longer any chance of monarchs, I embarked on a clean up of the little plot. It now looks like this. Clean and tidy….and dull. Not a “Mess” but also not “Fine”. Not yet, anyway. There’s good manure in the soil, and worms, and caterpillar plus bee frass,
so, in a few months, it may provide solace for my senses once again. And, later, much later, the monarchs may be tempted to return. I hope so. I know the bees will come.
Virginia, how is your clean up going? There is no danger that your garden will succumb to DULL. 🙂 It will be clean, tidy and finer than ever.
In my previous post, we took a brief look in the rear view mirror. This post goes further back, to the beginning of my blogcation, in late March.
Preparing for my weekend visitor, I fill the vases…..
for the table
and for the bedroom
Today, April 13 is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. One of my favourite websites for plant information is this one http://www.monticello.org/site/visit . I would like to visit the Monticello gardens, one day. In the meantime, I looked up sage and borage to see if they featured at Monticello, and they do. I particularly liked this reference to sage/salvia.
“This Mediterranean shrub has been grown in gardens since at least the thirteenth century. It was thought to prolong life, even “render men immortal.” Sage was a standard item in gardens from colonial times, and was included by Jefferson in a list of “Objects for the garden this year” in 1794. The term Salvia comes from the Latin salveo meaning “I am well,” a reference to its virtuous powers. In addition to being a useful culinary herb, Sage is an attractive ornamental dwarf shrub that attracts bees and butterflies, but is not favored by deer.”
Although I do not have to worry about deer ( snails are bad enough! ) eating my plants, I love that I have a plant in my garden that relates to health and well-being and healing. How lovely to look back and realise that I greeted my special guest with a vase of ‘well being”.
This post is an unabashed excuse to use the term ‘postprandial’. For, after my visual feasting on so many lovely, virtual Thanksgiving dinners, I am in a postprandial state of being; which means, in my case, replete, satisfied, satiated and inclined to tread the hours, softly, softly, ever so softly.
Yesterday was particularly postprandial , even though it was some 36 hours since I first sampled the smallest imaginary sliver of sliced turkey (one has to sample judiciously when such a huge repast is on offer via the interweb)……and I tried to move in a quiet and orderly fashion through the tasks of the day: a little internet banking, some bills to pay; some online shopping; a few cards to make; a birthday card to write; and, then, a tiny time of tidying and trimming and weeding in the garden…….which, although brief, suddenly seemed lack lustre, so I did this, in a moment of whimsy : I scooped up all the clippings and trimmings of Portuguese Laurel, heuchera, fern and borage and teucrium fruticans , as well as a few handfuls of sage and mint, and placed them in my precious Royal Doulton bowl.
And, I thought, “What fun!”, and proceeded to post this photo as my Facebook profile.
Whereupon, one of my astute and very practical-minded Facebook friends, who knows my garden well, immediately commented “Looks like a lovely bunch wild growth! ” Oh, how I laughed, for no matter how I might try to style my floral/foliage arrangement, its base material is just that: the wild (over) growth from the garden; the trimmings and leftovers that were originally destined for the compost heap, before my imagination grasped them and gave them another life.
However, laugh as I did over my friend’s reaction to my act of whimsy ( or was it folly?), I did think this: that we can’t always fill our vase of life with beautiful, elegant, perfect roses; sometimes we simply have to do the best we can with the leftovers, the dregs, the crumbs from the table. And, why not, make the most of them; my dog thinks they’re delicious. He spends half his life begging for them 🙂
I am bee-ing uncharacteristically envious. My blogging friend Ruth, who reflects on life in central Christchurch, is now a host parent to 20,000 bees. She is part of a “buzzy movement” to bring bees into the city’s green spaces and gardens, as well as onto the city ‘s roof spaces. I am envious because I would love to host a hive but, sadly, most of my neighbours wouldn’t love me if I were to become a host family. ( I can hear the complaints about bee droppings on their washing before I even finish this thought in my head 😦 )
Sigh! But, even though a hive would be a difficulty, I do have a flourishing bee population in my garden, anyway. This is mainly because, this year, I have left the plantings, in my raised garden beds, to run to wilderness.
I was about to replant the beds with orderly rows of vegetables when I realised that, by doing so, I would be removing a vital food supply, and haven, for the bees and little birds. I reasoned that it was easier for me to find an alternative supply of vegetables than it was for the small ones to find sustenance elsewhere. So the wilderness of overgrown parsley,
leeks, sage and self-sown borage
and cerinthe remained.
My reward….no honey… but the bee chorus is so humming that I can hear it from at least a metre’s distance. The wild growth in the planter boxes is supplemented, in the background, by the prolific flowering of my ceanothus blue sapphire . They are a-shimmer with bee activity, although you would hardly think so, since I have only managed to capture one of their number!
Ruth’s bees may travel up to five kilometres to gather food. I wonder if I am close enough for any of them to visit me. Wouldn’t that be lovely if they did? Meanwhile Jack and I enjoy the bees that are already here.