Mis-spent Summer

Mis-spent Summer

We spent most of today cleaning up the property, especially our 40-foot-long front garden, and prepared the ground for winter.  We’ve had so much rain this summer and fall that it was hard to know when to do this.  And to confirm my confusion is the strange behaviour of a tall bearded Iris planted amongst a few others in the small backyard garden.  I had trundled him home along with a few others about two years ago.  The first year, baby squirrels had at his buds, thinking they were really well-shaped peanuts, I guess.  Last summer, he didn’t flower at all, though his leaves were strong, long and green.  This summer, he didn’t bloom either…but now…now that Winter is upon us, he has put forth a robust flower stem with two buds clearly about to bloom!  I am thrilled, even though I keep thinking that this iris is mentally challenged:  doesn’t he realize that his blooming season was five months ago?!  

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A Royal Month?

A Royal Month?

As a young Catholic, I learned that the month of May was consecrated to the Virgin Mother of God, Mary.  Every May, I set up a small shrine in my bedroom, and recited a decade of the Rosary to the Mother of God every night.  I was very sincere and, like so many tweeners, hoped that my prayers would be answered, or at least, make my life more palatable, if not purer.  As we enter the month of August, I try to remember which saint or god it is devoted to:  Augustus Caesar?  “August” occasions are grandiose affairs; the Queen celebrates her birthday in August although she was born under the sign of the Bull, Taurus (I think); one may have an “august” presence, I suppose, and preside over an equally august occasion.  I don’t get it.  The month of August, following too quickly on the steps of July, signifies the onset of Autumn…and then, you know…w i n t e r.  W I N T E R…you know, THE season of winter tires, minus 35 Celsius, snow piled as high as my head, 40 minutes scraping the ice off your car, wearing men’s underwear under your layers and layers of undershirts, tops, sweaters, ski pants, scarves that fall to your feet, hats that make you look like a mobile condom or a smurf, and coats that so disguise the human form that the difference between you and a stick figure completely disappears.  As the barometric pressure changes and strange weather patterns take centre stage, my joint pain flares and migrainous headaches begin to preoccupy my psyche.

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A Petrified Tree

I don’t know exactly when he died.  He seemed as still and tall and upright as ever, his arching boughs bracing the two less imposing end trees.  The garden is nearly forty feet long, on the oval, double the length of the hosta conga line that adorns the walkway–really, when I think about it, paralleling the entire length of the house.  Last year, the squirrels built their nest in the far tree, the one of all the three which is most healthy, none of its smaller trunks cleaving the main trunk but rather emerging from a robust centre…  

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Stealing Magnolias

Stealing Magnolias

It’s about twenty years old, that magnolia tree.  It ushers all visitors in to my home, standing along the walkway to the main door.  Every year, right on time, it brings its beauty to bear for all to see and relish.  It finally blossomed today, and I can smell the lovely blooms from my study as I write.  The blooms are a mix of white and not-quite-pink…sort of a mauvy pink, I guess.  I want to cut off a big branch and bring it in the house so that the loveliness and grandeur of the outdoors stays with me, sits by me, and gives me fragrance, beauty and light…but I can’t bring myself to separate the wood from the tree.  Even the wood has a say in this.  I may still…don’t know.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Invincible Summer

Albert Camus wrote:  “In the depth of winter, I finally learned there was in me invincible summer.”  Imminent, almost here, here really–well just as good as here; broaching itself as natural states do, through green buds and spuds poking through the dead-leave-lined ground as if oblivious to the decay around them.  Minuscule crocuses (I may be small, but I am mighty), magnolia buds braving the last bits of ground frost.  Early hyacinth stems (planted late last year) staking their claim to new ground and those of the stalwart alliums, cousins to the common onion yet rich and full and a powerful penitent purple when at their height.  “The Kingdom,” they all seem to say to me, “is at hand.”  As I do my walkabouts (and I’ve begun only lately), I stare and stare at clumps of green ‘midst fuzzy, messy ground and assert my wonder at them in a wordless fixity, my impatience an entity in itself for I am beside myself with an eagerness to see them grow.

The birds are back too:  the robins fight over potential worm wins, and the blackbirds over an old, high-up squirrels’ nest in one of my front yard trees.  Such violence in the face of plenty; so many trees in this region, I mean, why fight?  Why this tree and that nest when so many surround?  I like to think it’s because there is fast and easy access to my backyard birdfeeders, or more likely, Hermes, lord of the birds, ensures I have sufficient birdsong to accommodate my days and nights…Hermes, who alone among the gods, had the right and privilege of crossing from heaven to earth, is also, apart from the Muses, the iconic communicator, the courier of the gods.  Emily Dickinson wrote:  “I hope you love birds, too.  It is economical.  It saves going to heaven.”

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