23 October 2008

from the archive

Wilbur arrived on the scene in May 2005. Eight weeks old, full of vim and vigor.


Staid Scamp, accustomed to being the only cat of our acquaintance, responded in the only way he could, given that he was being pursued at every opportunity by a scrappy little ball of orange fluff:

22 October 2008

this shining moment in the now

When I work outdoors all day, every day, as I do now, in the fall, getting ready for winter, tearing up the garden, digging potatoes, gathering the squash, cutting firewood, making kindling, repairing bridges over the brook, clearing trails in the woods, doing the last of the fall mowing, pruning apple trees, taking down the screens, putting up the storm windows, banking the house—all these things, as preparation for the coming cold . . .

when I am every day all day all body and no mind, when I am physically, wholly and completely, in this world with the birds, the deer, the sky, the wind, the trees . . .

when day after day I think of nothing but what the next chore is, when I go from clearing woods roads, to sharpening a chain saw, to changing the oil in a mower, to stacking wood, when I am all body and no mind . . .

when I am only here and now and nowhere else—then, and only then, do I see the crippling power of mind, the curse of thought, and I pause and wonder why I so seldom find this shining moment in the now.

—David Budbill, from While We’ve Still Got Feet © Copper Canyon Press

* * * * *

B sent this poem to me way back in the fall of 2005. He heard it on his drive to work one morning and thought I’d love it as much as he does. I do! I printed it out and tacked it to the bulletin board next to my desk. I read it every now and then to settle myself a bit.

You can listen to Garrison Keillor read this poem over at “The Writer’s Almanac” here.

perennial bed musings

Just for comparison’s sake, here’s the perennial bed three summers ago (10 July 2005):

And again on a Sunday this summer (2 August 2008):

And from another angle that day, after I’d weeded a bit:


Okay, so maybe it’s not fair to post photos taken a month apart, because things tend to grow quite a lot in a summer month, but let’s forget about that for right now.

This is going to sound elementary, my dear Watson (I know, I know: Sherlock Holmes never actually said that), but I’m aiming to have the taller plants at the back and the smaller plants at the front, like those great cottage gardens where it seems the plants will crest and break like a wave. I think I’m beginning to get some of that.

I would like for there to be variation in leaf and flower shape, as well as a pleasing combination of colors and habits. Again, progress not perfection. There was more of that going on this year than ever before, so that feels very good.

Getting to this point has taken three years of scratching my head, moving things around, keeping the weeds at bay, taking notes, and trying something else the next year. I have lost almost all of my phlox for some reason, coddled the purple smokebush until it settled in, watched in horror as the monkshood (which seems to grow like a weed for everyone else I know) shriveled up and died, planted the shasta daisies too close together, fretted over numerous dahlias that never amounted to much . . .

Hmm (stroking chin), but even with all of that, when I’m in the garden, I am my best self. Not thinking of work or worrying about tomorrow (I am a great worrier). It’s just me and the sun and the dirt.

first snow in hebron

22 October. Again: Wow. Just had a call from Betty, who says that snow is flying sideways outside her kitchen window. This is early!

21 October 2008

can't bring myself to throw them in the trash

The dahlias continue to be beautiful, even dried up and dropping petals. Here are a few of the flowers I brought to the office in September.

lily of the valley petal magnified 1,300 times

Wow. Click here to go to the National Geographic Web site to view the third-place winner in the 2008 Small World Photomicrography Competition. Wish my camera had such a macro setting!