Monday, June 1, 2009


I hope you're all out in your gardens, getting those little onions and cabbages and other goodies into the ground, or planting lots of glorious flowers to grace your gardens and tables as the Summer comes around.

This used to be the season of dandelion gathering, of poke sallet hunts, of trips to the woods and fields for the newest, greenest of the tonic plants and salad greens. A quick eye was rewarded with the glimpse of the elusive morel, the tiny shoots of wild asparagus, the unfurling babyhands of fern. The turned-earth smell of plowing reached for miles; the secrecy of seed went into the moist earth, the harvest-to-be was nurtured and tended.

As we rode through Kentucky on Friday, we put the windows down and the roof open, and it was like driving through a smorgasbord of homey scents---the smell of First Turning---that primal, nothing-like-it-scent, of Winter-rested soil yielding its new richness to the plow; the true scent of Indiana’s “new-mown hay” as the green stalks fell into a satin blanket behind the tractor’s scythe, and the vague wisp of woodsmoke in the air as new-cleared ground was readied for plowing.

Now we feel the magnetics of garden centers, paved acres which host countless racks and shelves and pallets of tiny pots of plants--each and every one true to the promise of its own seed. We bought great flats of them yesterday, all succulently plump with all the rain on their outdoor shelves---lavender and thyme and rosemary, two kinds of tarragon and three kinds of basil, peppermint and chamomile, as well as some chives and a couple of salvia, cause my parents ALWAYS had red salvia somewhere amongst the vegetables and herbs.

We still have soggy mud from here to there, with scraggles of limbs and countless bits of leaf-clusters downed by the hail and blown about all over everything. Don't want to make track-holes all over, so will suffer looking at the debris for another day or two. But the call of the round patch, and the bright new shovel with its smooth blonde handle like an Ikea sculpture---they’re calling me back out before I even wash my face.

And the fact that our shopping trip included a pint-sized shovel and a pair of purple “Dora” gloves in toddler size just add to the allure. I’m wearing my pink plastic clogs, and the teensy pair which accompanied them in my big Easter basket---today’s the day to see if that running, scampering little girl can manage wading through damp ground without losing a shoe or falling down. Either way, it’s warm, and the pink Teletub will take care of muddy feet and legs.

I'm glad to hear of gardens and trees, mailboxes covered in my Mammaw's beloved "Cape Jazzmine" and the antics and foibles of cats and birds. That particular battle is older'n dirt. And I miss the outdoor-yearnings of our Kitty, fat as mud, when she used to feel the pull of the open door, standing with her big front paws on the screen, looking out at the world, sniffing the air for interesting things, including the hotsy-totsy big Tom next door, with an eyepatch like a pirate.

I came in grimy and sweaty and plumb give out about thirty minutes ago, glad that the mowers came on Friday; they remembered just where to swoop in order to miss the ivies---the beautiful shiny green stuff which friends gave us snippets of from their own lawn, is making great inroads from its beds all around the fences, crawling out into the grass for yards and yards. Don't want that mowed too close, so it can keep spreading its lovely deep green across the back lawn, which consists mostly of mossy areas, anyway. The POISON ivy, which runs rampant just in our yard (wonder if I can go back and speak sharply to the former owner---it was Winter when we bought the house, and it was CERTAINLY not disclosed), is sprinkled all amongst everything around all the perimeters.

I spent quite some time with the longest lopping shears, nipping off great clumps down at the ground, and tossing them WAY back in the deep areas by the fences to dry and do their harm no more. I can spot that stuff from the CAR when we drive past it in the country. And I never knew that it blossomed---a happy surprise when, several years ago, Chris had crossed a ditch, the better to get photo angles on a wonderful jutting rock formation, just rising out in a field like a cathedral in France.

I wandered up and down the dusty road, then noticed little lily-bells all scattered in the green---and the green was the Poison Ivy. He got a lot of closeups of the blooms, and no one knows what they are, til we point out the telltale triad.

Just goes to show there’s a bit of good in almost everything, even a garden pest.


Southern Lady said...

Beautiful and charmin' pictures you painted with your words, Miss Rachel ... even of the dreaded POISON IVY.

Kim S. said...

I am dreaming, this year, of an arbor - back among my ivy, under the giant bush-trees of I-don't-know-what. A couple of comfy chairs, a table for holding a glass of tea and a book and a wind chime. Wonder why? ;-)

racheld said...

OH, Kim!!! I just saw this!!

Ours is a homemade thing, dreamt up of looking upupup into what could be a ceiling, then it went from there.

Don't forget to leave a little nubbin or two on the limbs of the ceiling, for a lantern for fire-fly time, and make tea for two.

And Janie,

I have a teensy smitch of that dreaded plant right now, and came by it honest---I waded right into the friendly ivy and clipped to the ground every trefoil in sight, bagging them up and getting them GONE. I'm lucky I'm not itchy all over.