Saturday, September 29, 2012

Regaling Arugula . . . . . . .88:1001

This week, I'm sure I'm a Druid.

Many reasons.  Mom is a pyromaniac. No one who knows her thinks I'm kidding. Liked to go into the woods with a beer, a hot dog, and her dog / cat retinue and light big fires.  This act has all the Druidic bells and whistles: mind-altering drink; hot dogs / sacrifice; dog/cat whatever; big fires.  And then there is her general Gallic personality.  And Grandma Sassenger.   And Dad's share of shaman DNA, from Wales and South Carolina.   I'm in.

Supporting this argument, The Facts: I compulsively compost organic material, from onion skins to tree limbs, knowing I will go to hell if this ritual is not religiously followed.  My Immaculate Conception Garden (detailed a few posts back) is living proof of my Druidic Universe Entanglement.  The Virgin Mary statue left guarding my garden over the years has attracted a fine following of un-husbandry type yields.  That is, they don't get planted, they just grow.  Is that Virgin, or What?  And....I just finished a quickie mind-candy novel on druids in Hibernia.  And other things . . . . . . .  Although these mystic feelings, when they stir, make me feel guilty like I'm cheating on Carl Sagan/ ultimate Real Science person: they stir.

But the big thing THIS week that convinces me of my Druidic bent is the Arugula In The Yard.   This summer was nasty, hot, and dry.  I gave up on the flora denizens of my yard.  They were on their own.  I thought we should all just give up and die.  But no.  THEY struggled on.

The grass died.  The weeds thrived.  My never-been-planted-by-Human-Hands specialty cherry tomatoes flourished.  The Blue Balls from Space Thistles increased.  The Rose of Sharon bushes, planted to screen the neighbor's kid's playhouse from me--and the Burning Bush, allowed to grow rampant to shield the other neighbors from me period---went wild.  Note: these are all Biblical type names. 

So a few days ago I allowed myself a leisurely cold six-pack whilst sitting in my pergola and observing the growth pattern of my second-year grape vines.  Not up to wine making, yet.  But while enjoying the recently reviving weather pattern, it suddenly hit me as I glanced around my teeny yard domain:  the grass was dead, but the Arugula was Growing.  In the middle of the Dead Grass.

This, I mused, is like another Resurrection.  (These--resurrections--happen in my yard all the time.)

So it seems that it would be the wiser option to embrace this unavoidable reality.  Me and the flora have an understanding.  Whether I will or not.  The Arugula seems to have sent the SIGN that it will take over the formerly wasted space where dubious grass grew.  IT has decided to thrive through old growth/ dead growth grass, and who knows how in the hell it got there in the first place. I have indeed planted Arugula in the past, and may have neglected to dispose of it's discarded, past-peak progeny immediately in isolated conatiners.  That is, I might have left it's clearings laying all over the yard when it was at its seed peak.  I don't remember doing that, but hey.  It Lives.  Nay, It Thrives.  What The.

Friends are uneasy about the whole mystic revelation thing, as manifested by their reaction to Arugula in gift bags to them.  "Are you sure," they politely inquire when I tell them where it came from, "that this is Arugula, and not some deadly poisonous weed that your yard is trying to kill people with?"  They can accept my reassurances. Or not.  I Know.

I have not put any chemicals on the yard since it became mine, purchasing the house over a decade ago.  This means:  I have organic dandelions growing everywhere.  ORGANIC dandelionn GREENS.

Uh-Huh.  I can give up doing other stuff, follow the lead of my flora friends, and become an ageing hippied organic salad dispenser.    The whole green thing in my yard renews constantly if I bother to mow it; newly sprouted Arugula and Dandelion Greens could be mine ALL YEAR.  Who in the heck needs a yard of grass, with the power of druidic flora behind them? 

With a deck of Tarot cards in my hand-- 'cause as a linguist/artist/ musician I do Symbols like Nobody's Business--this could be a package. 

I cannot ignore the role of the The Virgin's Chipped Plaster Statue in my garden, in the decidedly increasingly interesting twist to my involuntary Druidic investment.  Which statue's presence I think has added to the pot of interesting and wildly independent growth patterns in my yard/ garden.  The Virgin is, some believe, the vestigial Catholic Christian nod to Gaea/ Earth Mother religions, quashed milleniaium ago by jealous type male chauvinists.  To the Druidic worship of all life.

Arugula, beautiful name, beautiful smell, beautiful taste, growing in my yard.  I'm going to till up the entire side of my pergola facing my teeny garage and devote it to the Magic Arugula next spring.  Next Spring; the hope of every true Druid, the call of every wild garden, and wild gardener.  The promise of rebirth, the lure of fantasy, the call of the wild.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Feeling It . . . . . .. >100:1,001

Talked to Mom today, for the first time in a few weeks.  We live 600 miles apart.  Six hundred miles is about the right distance for most of my nuclear family to have between them.  There are many reasons for this, but most of them are difficult to nail down and talk about.  I'm convinced it's true, however, that it's a good idea.  A psychologist I once visited on a regular basis told me that it was, and I believed him. 

Still, it sometimes seems hard to keep safely away from nuclear family.   Who else can you turn to for some kind of confimation about your life overview?  Mom, for instance, is 90 years old, and an inspiration for growing old and keeping active.  I can only hope I have inherited her consitution and vigor.  I love my Mom, and she loves me.  In her way.  It's just that a family is not always what it is expected to be, or rather what Beaver Cleaver would have had us believe it should be, some decades agon on his popular and mythical TV show.

Mom and I had a good talk on the phone.  We both live alone, we both garden, we both love cats, and we think alike about a lot of things. Sometimes I think we get along so much better now that we're both older.  My father passed away 2 years ago, Mom survived a bout of breast cancer, me and my siblings all moved far from the nest and have had our own lives for years.  We aren't all in each other's face.  We've all gotten past some invisible barrier to peaceful co-existence.  I think.

But none of this is really what I mean.  What I mean is:  sometimes we love people, and don't know how to love them.  What I mean is, sometimes people change, and understand things that were never in their universe before a certain point in time.  Sometimes, when you get older, you become a different person. 

Mom is a good example, to me, that Second Chances happen at any age.   That's good to know.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Requiem for Red Rose . . . . . . 1001:76

Woke up this morning and made tea with the cheap brand I have used for years. It's always been a good-enough tea for morning, although I have strayed into other, more exotic brands freely when not at home or when gifted.  Besides, my old tea company has nice little ceramic collectible figures inside the boxes, which I am hooked on.  And I used to live in Canada, and the tea is popular there.  The tea is also cheap and, I used to believe, tasty enough to greet the morning. 

Sadly, this morning's cup of tea just didn't do it for me.  And I know why.  I've been cheating.  In an inexplicable act of self-indulgence, I found and bought a large-sized box of Twinings English BreakfastTea a month or so ago.  It wasn't one of the smaller boxes with like 20 teabags.  Oh no, this was one of those serious boxes, like Lipton or Spartan comes out with, with 40 or more teabags.  (Spartan has a place in my heart because they do NOT use staples on their tea bags, and I can throw the whole thing, string/bag/used tea leaves in compost without worrying about staples invading the garden soil.)  Enough bag-time to get me hooked.  Its nice, and one bag brews really, really strong, the way I like it.   It's also pricier than the Other brand.   No brainer, though.  I want my tea, and I want it strong and tasty. (I admit that I am a lazy tea-drinker and only use recyclable and more easily adjusted tea-balls sometimes.  I feel guilty about that.)

So I'll give up my ceramic figurine collecting, drink fewer cups (good idea, anyway, before I become a Tea Granny), and upgrade the at-home tea.  Maybe not the at-work tea, . . .

It's true you can't go back. 

(Short post!  I did a short post!! I can do this!)

Madonna and the Immaculate Conception Vines 1001:75

I Am A Slob Gardener.

I used to be an Upright Kind of Gardener: plant seeds and water them and tend them tenderly.
Now: plants plant themselves, elbow aside weeds, and have to be 100% drought resistant to survive.
Amazingly, the plants that make their home in my garden do all those things.  They are Ultimate Survivors.  I attribute this miraculous garden to three things.

First, the line from Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum says "Life will find a way" refers to the cloned dinosaurs' ability to procreate, despite the odds.  This line also applies to my garden.    It finds a way.  Relentlessly and amazingly.

Second, there is a statue in my garden of Mary, Mother of God.  It was left by the previous owner of my house,  when I purchased it over a decade ago.  Although I am not Catholic, I felt she had squatter's rights, and she has genially stood guard in the garden for all these years.  I can't help but feel she has had a positive influence.  Note the healthy growth vying to snuggle up to her.  These plants just showed up, lacking any kind of gardening husbandry, which adds to my theory that if she can conceive immaculately, so can the garden.

Third is my quirkish philosophy that every organic material that enters my house has a right to return to the earth.  So I compost in a bin I sometimes maintain in the back garden, or--shortcut--throw stuff in the garden to rot.  Thereby hangs a tale. The little pumpkin in the photo above has a family tree:  "Mama" was a decorative pumpkin purchased from Busch's groceries.  When Mama lived out a long and useful existence decorating my classroom last year, I brought it home and tossed it in the garden.  And forgot about it.  This spring, when some vines started growing in the general vicinity, I didn't know what it was--all those vines look alike--but was hoping that I'd tossed a watermelon there.  A month ago, they manifested in their true form, and the whole lineage became clear.  So I will have some cute little pumpkins to put in my classroom again this year.  But no watermelons, sadly.  Or pattypan squash, yum.  Although the cucumber vine I have been waiting on all hot, dry summer to show something for its nice foliage DID finally come up with . . . a zucchini.  My fault.  I actually planted this one.

The other vines clinging to the Virgin are cherry tomatoes.  I think cherry tomatoes are in line, right behind cockroaches, to survive nuclear holocaust.  They have incredible survival rates.  These tomatoes, I'm pretty sure, originated many years ago from some cherry tomatoes my Dad sent home with me from the farm in Illinois.  The leftover/rotten ones of which eventually got tossed in my garden.  Since that time, cherry tomatoes have dominated my garden landscape, and I haven't planted a SINGLE ONE.  Much as witchgrass dominates my yard.  "Multiply and be fruitful " are words straight from the Bible, extremely well illustrated by the cherry t's, and appropriate to their locale next to the Virgin.

So my Lazy Gardener persona--didn't Buddha have a few irresponsible incarnations?--does, actually, give me a great deal to philosophize about, buttresses my spirituality, and gives me good stories.  As well as usable produce. The neighbors aren't impressed by my trailer-trash landscaping, but they will never know, with their chemically treated yards and climate controlled plantings (they actually sprinkle their yards, because they can), the Miracle of the Unplanted Garden. 

And then there are the Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans, which are maybe behind cherry tomatoes and cockroaches for Apocalypse Survival.......  Slob Gardeners are surrounded by Wonder.

 Note:  the little white patches on the pumpkin vine leaf are crushed eggshells from the ducks and chickens in my backyard neighbors' coop.  I get a dozen organic/free range chicken/duck eggs once a month, delivered to my door, by Nina and Amelia, for which I recompense them $6, which my Mom thinks is Horrible and Ridiculous.  The shells are like neighbors, so I can't just throw them in the trash, and they go the Throw Them In The Garden route that non-composted organic material follows at my place. 

Disclaimer:  I really don't believe the shells will grow into eggs, but if they do, I will write a sequel to Jurassic Park.