Sunday, July 27, 2008
Anyone reading this—who actually knows me—will love the excerpt below which I pulled from the introduction of a book I recently read. The book is one in a series of classic garden literature, edited by Michael Pollan.
"For what other pastime has spawned so many fine books? Only fly-fishing comes even close....Which is probably no accident: for gardening, like angling, engages us with the natural world, as actors rather than passive spectators. Both put us smack on the frontier between nature and culture, which is always an interesting place for a writer to stand. And both literary traditions pose practical and philosophical questions about how we might better go about rhyming our desires with nature's ways, questions that only grow more urgent with time." -Michael Pollan (Introduction to the Modern Library Gardening Series)
My jaw dropped when I hit this section. Maybe in some strange way I am more like my father than I already thought I was. His life has been dedicated to the dissemination of fishing information, and sometimes, even what might be called literature too. Growing up, I met many famous fly-fishing writers and never thought a thing of it. Even famous folks my father didn't publish, knew him, and they've always appreciated what he has done for the sport over the years.
I always liked the writers a lot, but fishing was not my thing, especially when it came to spinner and/or bait fishing. (Let's not even go into the bass crowd. They are from a whole different planet.) Instead, for my outdoor fix, I chose hiking and climbing mountains. This worked well for me before the illness kicked in.
Now I am back where I started at age 18. I want to write, am still afraid to do so, and find myself interested in something, no anything, related to the natural world. Originally, I'd wanted to write about the scientific natural world, and now I am narrowing that focus to the natural world around a house, my house. Somehow, in trying to figure out what all of this meant to me, and how I should go about it, I picked up the garden writing series and started reading all of the texts. And what do I find? I found fly-fishing! Life really isn't a linear progression, but a series of circularity reminding us daily that we will always be lost in our fruitless and relentless search for meaning.
Monday, July 21, 2008
This is a bloom from a Rosa chinensis var. viridiflora. Ours is still young yet, but it is by far one of my favorite garden plants. Registered in 1830, it is an unusual China rose, with no petals, just a lot of sepal. The blooms are often hard to notice at first, but then you can see them all over. What makes it even more exciting is that it smells of black pepper.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Most gardeners are lovers of animals, and for some reason, the two almost always seem to go together. I have heard that in Great Britain, it is most frequently the moggie cat that is much beloved, but here in the US, it seems that we may have just as many dogs digging in the dirt with their owners. Here at our home, we have three black cats, but in addition to Macavity, Maurice and Mona, we also have another black cat neighbor named Meng. There are tons of other cats that come and go too, but our hearts, and garden, belong to the first four, and for the most part, these four seem to tolerate one another.
Like other soil toilers, I also adore birds. This can be a bit difficult though if you also care for cats. Every year we try to make their collars louder, but I still worry about my feathered guests. In general, I have tried to design a garden which encourages bird-watching, and not bird killing. During the last four years, only one bird has been killed–as far as I know... This may have something to do with my pets' penchant for napping on the job. (See Above: Mona on an average day.)
Friday, July 18, 2008
After an 1,800-mile car trip to California and back, there just isn't a lot of energy left in me. We arrived home almost 4 days ago, and yet, I just cannot recover. Sitting in the car is difficult enough for me, but taking two teenaged girls was a whole other issue. (One was a niece, the other is like a niece.) At least I was able to see some amazing landscapes, and my husband was dropped-off in Lake County so that he could help in the annual wine-making process at his dad's. The smoke from the wildfires was giving us all headaches, but the trip back with the girls along the coast was very pleasant. I just worry about the drought now. The grapes looked great, but they did need to be pruned, and I think they took care of that after we left. I wish I could have helped, but again, I just don't have that kind of stamina or the speed either.
Today I have been in a great deal of pain. It is centered around my limbs but I am feeling better bit by bit. For the last few days I have been shaky but that seems to have improved too. I just wish that I could get outside to arrange, plant, and sell the plants that need to be sold right now. My "inventory" is a bit out of control. At least if things died while we were away they can be composted. That always makes me feel better. Maybe tomorrow I will feel stronger.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
If I could, I probably would join every public garden in the US, if not the world! Not only do I enjoy their newsletters, plant sales, events and seed sales, but part of me always longs to visit them too. In my area alone I belong to the Portland Classical Chinese Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden, the Berry Botanic Garden and the Leach Botanical Garden. In addition, I belong to the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon and the Portland Rose Society. This just sounds crazy, but I simply cannot live without them! In a way, this all allows me to stay in touch with the world when so much of my time is spent resting on the couch or otherwise. If I could right now, I really would like to earn a Master's in landscape architecture, but my health just won't allow for this until the plasma product is available.
I am a member of the Garden Conservancy as well as the American Horticultural Society. They do so many good things, I just cannot say enough about them and they really inspire me to want more out of my own life and garden. Years ago, while visiting Alcatraz Island, I longed to see what the gardens had once looked like, and now, the Garden Conservancy is helping to make that happen. The American Horticultural Society really tries to tie our nation of gardeners together and is run out of one of George Washington's farms. Although I love this kind of tradition, being a 22-generation American on the one hand, I would love to see a bit more of the West too since that is where my heart and soul are for the time being.
The volunteering part is often the hardest part for me. I would love to be able to help them all more, but I just cannot. Things being what they are right now, I have to try to make a living as much as I can. No matter what happens, though, I will continue to renew my memberships again and again.