Monday, April 04, 2005


Colds are never convenient, are they? I don't get them often, but I am a wuss about them. This one has been slow in coming and hit hard on Saturday, a day I had planned to spend in the garden. It was a fairly cold day, with blustery winds, at least in the morning.

So I spent the day watching television and resting, which meant, of course, watching information about the Pope and his dying. Having been in Rome last fall, and having spent almost an entire day at St. Peter's and the museum during that trip, the Vatican visuals were more real for me. This is the same effect I had after my first trip to Washington, DC as a young man. The White House and the Capitol were actually "real" buildings, real places.

Sunday afternoon, I ended up raking sweetgum balls in the afternoon, with Franklin the dog as a companion confined by tether and stake. He mostly sat and absorbed sun and he smelled, his nose in the air quivering, and he looked quietly serious until a person or a person with a dog walked by and then he had to announce his presence and warn them that if only the tether was not there he would be asserting his authority over them -- that's my translation of his doggy ways. It was a nice day, lots of folk walked through the townlet, and he barked too much during their passing through.

Raking sweetgum balls is the equivalent of cleaning a dust-covered room, showing again the marked distinction between green grass and cultivated beds. Suddenly, I have again a garden. I am spreading the sweetgum balls in the hosta beds as a kind of poor man's mulch, with the intent of using those dried jagged edges to tear into the soft membranes of any hungry, hosta-eating slugs who think it's open buffet. Hopefully, the word will get out among the slug community about the futility of eating my hostas.

That won't stop the grubs, though, who are underground, waiting to come up and eat my roses in the form of japanese beetles -- for some gardeners, saying this name is the equivalent of speaking Lord V.'s name in the Harry Potter books. I cannot bring myself to put the chemicals down to kill them.

Unlike previous years in this garden, where I have only spent a third of my time in actual gardening, with the rest of my efforts in building new beds and then planting them, this growing season should be all about maintenance, editing and cultivating. Simple garden work -- as opposed to what feels like at times civil engineering.

Tired after a few hours, I laid out on the grass, next to Franklin, and together we silently looked out at the garden. It is an odd view, laying out on grass. The perspective changes and suddenly, looking eyelevel at a clump of daffodils, I am getting a Georgia O'Keefe perspective on flowers. A few people walked by and waved at us. It was a gentle day.

I was too tired to watch the Lady Bears play on TV, but awoke this morning to hear they are in the Final. Go Bears! Sic 'em, etc.

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