Oddments

In search of story


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August 5.20: Coping

A GARDEN STORY

Once upon a November, I bought this house. When a gardener buys a house in November, she has a whole winter to wonder what someone else’s garden will bring. As it came to life, I wondered less and pulled more. Out, out, rude roots! After the chaos of resettling, I happily yanked and snipped. Instant gratification. The gardener’s high.

In the throes of this euphoria, I approached a small shaded gravel patch where nothing should have been able to grow, but no one had told the weeds. Then I stopped and stared in a gardener’s disbelief. Four small stems with happy little leaves looked familiar. Snapdragons? Could it be? Snapdragons sprouting in these sunless stones? Tenderly, I eased them up and out, such little things, but so green. I transplanted them into the garden and coddled them neurotically. They grew plump with leaves and buds. They were the shortest snapdragons I’d ever seen, and they bloomed white! I am a fool for white flowers! Oh, what a gardener’s jig I danced!

And, oh, what a harvest of snapdragon seeds followed! And now, two garden seasons later, I have low-lying clouds of white snapdragons, snuggling with parsley, lighting the front-door thyme, wreathing the bay. Even though I have not been able to plant my back yard garden this year, the white snapdragons assure me that beauty will be had, and that I should always look twice at the gravel.

 

 


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July 11.20: Coping

2019

2020

Yesterday I read a blog that asked if the reader has any gardening disappointments this year. Is he kidding? “Gardening” and “disappointment” go together like echinacea and Japanese beetles.

This is my third gardening season here; if you are a gardener, you know the third season is the beginning of seeing the garden as your own. For me, two distinct garden worlds: a bit shady in the front, a lot sunny in the back. Yes, Indiana clay and nasty root systems, exuberant invasives, malicious rabbits and chipmunks. But gradually mine.

Problems with a contractor have made it impossible for me to plant anything in the back this summer. All I have is a struggling collection of gangly seedlings with no place to grow. Empty tomato cages. No frilly yellow blossoms morphing into reds and golds. Not merely disappointment: it’s loss.

Gardeners survive the winter because they know a garden is coming, so when the garden fizzles the gardener kind of fizzles too. She might even let slip an imprecation. Maybe two.

Not everyone is a gardener, of course, but everyone has disappointments. And losses. It seems to me they are all felt more deeply this year because isolation is fertile ground for deep feelings.

So we cope, best we can, with emptiness where there should be life, and watch disappointment become loss, but we should never underestimate the toll it’s taking on us.

 

 

 


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April 30.20: Coping

And so, dear reader, do we come to the end of Poetry Month, which I have endeavored to mark with a poem a day. I have greatly appreciated your company along the way, and I thank you with something for today’s celebration of Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day.  I have sent this to you before, but, since it’s one of my favorites, I send it again.

THE MIRACLE OF SPRING

We glibly talk

of nature’s laws

but do things have

a natural cause?

Black earth becoming

yellow crocus

is undiluted

hocus-pocus.

                                 — Piet Hein

 

I can’t say I’m any closer to a satisfying definition of poetry. It completely eludes me why some things are considered poems. Although I try to work with rhyme, it’s not because I think rhyme makes a poem; it’s something else that makes a poem. That part is mysterious to me.

But besides marking poetry month, I wrote daily as a way of coping. Poetry month might be over, but I still have to cope, so I might continue the mighty effort to post something every day. It’s good for me to try. I hope you are finding ways to cope, too. The anguish of this time is real and deep and we have to find ways to hold on to our humanness.