Tag Archives: gardening

Tuesday, April 21st, 1.45 pm

DSCF3115Color has thrust itself on the landscape
In quick short jabs—hyacinth blue, daffodil yellow, robin red
If I had a net I could reel in the clouds like a flock of white doves
The mantra begins—mint oregano raspberry sage

Sitting amongst dandelions
I dream of wine, mellow and ripe
The sweetness of honey on my tongue
And an orange tree grown from seed.

I feel the upward thrust through the soles of my feet
First rhubarb nubbins pushing out of the dirt
First purple violets in the lawn
First handsome dandelion by the garden door.

The old cat knows it
She’s been prancing up the black walnut like a skittish kitten
Squirming luxuriously in the new grass
Rubbing her chin against some smell that I can’t even get a whiff of.

The calm air is painted with birdsong
Sun dries the ink on the page
The tug of war between Sun and Moon
Pulls the slow earth from winter to spring.

 

Advertisements

THESE HANDS

DSCF9362These hands–
they hold
and push
and pull
and eat
and give
and slap
and dig
and stir
and knit
and write
and carry
and punch
and caress
and grasp
and pluck
and stroke
and grip
and make love
and cling
and release
and wave
and cradle
and wash
and feed
and clap
and hug
and soothe
and let go.

ODE TO ONIONS

DSCF6345No smell announces the preparation of a meal better than the rich, sweet aroma of sautéing onions. It’s a humble staple of my pantry that I couldn’t do without. Luckily, I live in an area famous for its onions. I keep a special pair of blue swim goggles in my kitchen drawer for chopping the extremely pungent variety that grow in our region of New York State. Known as the Black Dirt, the fertile soil—a result of an ancient glacial lake—is rich in organic matter and sulfur. DSCF5037The latter gives our local onions their intense flavor and earns them a spot in farmer’s markets and supermarkets all over the Northeast.

IMG_8688IMG_8684Starting in April armies of bright green shoots march across the black dirt. By July, they’re standing tall. And in August the stalks wilt, their purpose served.DSCF6369 In September the heady scent of onions pervades the air and the onion crates are stacked high in the fields, waiting to be stored or transported to market.DSCF6366DSCF6357 DSCF6333

Ode To The Onion by Pablo Neruda
Onion,
luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
happened
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicating the magnolia,
so did the earth
make you,
onion
clear as a planet
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
upon
the table
of the poor.

You make us cry without hurting us.
I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are
more beautiful than a bird
of dazzling feathers,
heavenly globe, platinum goblet,
unmoving dance
of the snowy anemone

and the fragrance of the earth lives
in your crystalline nature.

POISON IVY JUNGLE

IMG_8696Not many things give me nightmares, but poison ivy—Toxicodendron radicans—is one of them.

I didn’t even know what the blighter looked like when I started gardening in New York’s Hudson Valley. Vague ideas of Christmas card’s wreathed in leafy loveliness came to mind, and I imagined some minor skin irritation akin to the hives from a stinging nettle. Boy was I in for a shock.IMG_8704

One night I was awoken by an intense itching on the insides of my arms: I’d met my nemesis. But this noxious weed wasn’t going to get the better of me! I put on my armor—heavy-duty gardening gloves, long-sleeved sweatshirt, jeans, and boots—and waded into battle. I even went so far as to ditch my old clothes once I’d beaten my enemy into submission.

It didn’t help. The urushiol—the toxic sap of the plant—worked its way under my defenses. I looked like a burn victim, with oozing bandages swaddling my arms and shins. And don’t talk to me about the excruciating itch that made me tear at my skin like a mad woman.

DSCF4693I tried every remedy in the almanac—oatmeal baths, jewel weed, calamine lotion, cortisone, baking soda, bleach. Yes, you heard that last one right—neat bleach! They all worked to a degree. But the bottom line is that once the angry rash and blisters appear, you have to resign yourself to three weeks of hell.

So it’s no wonder that walking past a lush patch of poison ivy on the roadside is enough to give me sleepless nights. And when a seedling dares to rear its not-so ugly head in my garden, it makes me break out in a cold sweat and reach for the Round-up.

Recently I learned an even more disheartening fact: A study by researchers at the University of Georgia found that poison ivy is particularly sensitive to CO2 levels, greatly benefiting from higher CO2 in the atmosphere. Poison ivy’s growth and potency has already doubled since the 1960s, and it could double again once CO2 levels reach 560 ppm David Templeton (July 22, 2013). “Climate change is making poison ivy grow bigger and badder”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

So, unless you fancy a post-apocalyptic world over-run with vast jungles of poison ivy, curb your CO2 emissions!  DSCF4702

DANDELION

DSCF4650A little girl handed me a limp, browning dandelion the other day. “You need to put it in water,” she said, smiling hopefully. I knew the sentiment all too well. How often had I fallen victim to the lure of a lawn strewn with fuzzy golden flowers and picked handfuls to stuff in jam-jars, only to discover how short-lived their splendor was once picked.

For the past week, on sunny days, I’ve taken a bowl out to the garden and plucked the heads off the freshly opened dandelions. No, it’s not some manic, pesticide free attempt to remove them from my lawn. I’m storing them in bags in my freezer until I’ve accumulated enough to give to a friend to make dandelion wine. I can’t wait to taste the results.

The name, from the French dent-de-leon, or lion’s tooth, refers to the jagged shape of the dandelion leaves. When I was a kid, I spent hours picking these greens to feed my pet rabbit and tortoise.  I learned early on that the white sap that oozes out of the stem is not only sticky, but permanently stains clothing brown! But I still can’t pass a lush bunch without having the urge to pick them. Packed with vitamins and minerals, these leaves make a delicious dish. I first tasted horta—spring dandelion leaves cooked with tons of garlic and lemon juice and olive oil—when living in Greece as a child.

The dandelion has been used medicinally for centuries, and all parts of it are edible. One of its many names is pee-the-bed, for the diuretic effects of ingesting the dried root. It’s far from being merely a humble weed, and yet, this is the plant that herbicide makers love to target in their advertising. Of the numerous names for the dandelion, found in most languages, my favorite is from the Persian, qasedak, meaning small postman because it brings good news.

The First Dandelion.

Simple and fresh and fair from winter’s close
emerging,
As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics,
had ever been,
Forth from its sunny nook of shelter’d grass—
innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring’s first dandelion shows its trustful
face.
–WALT WHITMAN.

DSCF4653

FOR THE FIRST TIME

DSCF4123For the first time this year                                                                                                                              I dragged out the old blanket and spread it on the grass.                                                                  Dozed with my head on my arm,                                                                                                                 the sun warm enough to make me shed a layer.                                                                                   Oh boy my soul needed that sweet touch.                                                                                           And I dozed to the buzzing of bees                                                                                                              in the gold and purple crocuses.

At dusk I stood on the lawn and felt                                                                                                         air move against my skin.                                                                                                                               Not the numbing cold                                                                                                                                    that freezes tears in your eyes.                                                                                                                    But an air scented with earth.

My son pointed out the sliver of waxing moon                                                                                          hanging between silhouetted tree branches,                                                                                             delicate as lace mantillas.

The moon siren,                                                                                                                                           and the faint pulse coursing through the soil                                                                                             seduced the tree frogs out of hiding                                                                                                            to call in lusty peeps                                                                                                                                      from the unfrozen pond.

And now, against the darkness of a spring night                                                                                     A moth drives it’s wings against my window                                                                                             Oh so eager to step inside and make mad                                                                                                  passionate love to my lamp.

TOP TEN THINGS I’VE LEARED ABOUT BLOGGING

DSCF0773

Blogging is not for sissies. It takes time, focus, and hard work if you want to put out blogs that won’t make you cringe down the road. But the rewards are big. As the Write Eejit comes to the end of its first year, I thought it a good time to look back at what it’s taught me so far.

  1. Nobody just pops out a post worth its salt. Even the folks that seem to effortlessly come up with witty and informative things to say on a daily basis have more than likely been mulling them over for a while.   WHITE DEER
  2. It’s an excellent way to get a load off my chest. Feeling aggravated or ecstatic about something? Why not post a mini rant. So what if I’ll forever be known as that miserable woman who hates her cat. I HATE MY CAT
  3. Blogging has a way of bringing things into focus. Coming up with topics not only allows me to live in the moment, but also reflect on past events in a new light. GOLDEN MOMENTS
  4. I get to experiment without having to commit to a specific idea or format. PAGAN MOON
  5. I’ve rediscovered things about my past that had dropped off my radar. HIPPIE ADVENTURE
  6. On good days when I post without a hitch, blogging makes me feel like 21st century Warrior Woman. On bad days when I can’t figure out why my password has reset itself, I’m an FTD (frustrated tech dummy). OLD WRITERS NEW MEDIA
  7. Blogging forces me to set goals and shoot for a deadline, and is a constant reminder to adhere to good writing habits—check spelling and punctuation before hitting “Post”. COTTER PIN
  8. Blogging helps me take that breath and reevaluate where I am, both in life, and as a writer. MUD SEASON
  9. There are many talented and inspiring fellow bloggers out there. HIGH JINKS IN THE HAREM
  10. And when those “Likes” and comments pop up, boy is it instant gratification for someone who spends a lot of time tapping away in no-woman’s land. BLIND SQUIRREL PARENTING