Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Perception of Perfection

The mower roared along the grass as I fought with the hose, carefully threading it along the base of the plants, their thirsty stems limp against my skin. My head pounded and my eyes hurt, my sunglasses nowhere to be found. The ground was too dry for soaker hoses and the blue skies made no promises of rain. The heat was unrelenting and the forecast cheerfully predicted another week of hot, dry weather. Oblivious to the temperature, blue jays, grackles, finches, and hummingbirds swooped around the garden, their calls filling the air. "Is that a woodpecker?' my husband asked. I paused and looked up. A male woodpecker perched on the edge of our largest tube feeder, carefully picking seed from the tray before flying over to the oak to stuff it quickly into the fledgling's mouth, the baby's dunn colored feathers blending into the bark. Back and forth, the male woodpecker flew, the fledgling waiting patiently for its meal, it's beak open and eager. I took a deep breath and slowly let it out. I was desperate for rain and worried about the water bill, still rearranging soaker hoses, and frustrated by my endless trips with a watering can to quench my gardens thirst. I wanted the temps to drop by fifteen degrees and the skies to open up and pour, filling my rain barrels and soaking the brittle soil. My garden wasn't perfect but to the wood peckers who live in my trees, it's just perfect enough, and that's okay with me.

Friday, June 18, 2010

We need rain!!!

Ugh! It's as dry as the desert outside and my rain barrels are empty. The monster storm that was supposed to drench my garden and fill my barrels skipped by, with barely a rain drop to spare. But it's summer and I finally have time to sleep, garden, read, bake, dream.... My papers are graded, the class packed. The bluebird babies are quieter and I wonder if they fledged and flown while I worked. A pot of hummingbird syrup sits on the stove to cool but the monarda and trumpet vine offer plenty of natural nectar. My silene regia is still taking root so the hummers and I may have to wait until next summer to enjoy it's tall red flowers. The hose chuggs away, watering my thirsty garden while I hope and pray for rain. It will come...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Garden Frustration!!!

I've spent hours laying soaker hoses in a section of the garden that used to be quite moist but has grown drier every year as the trees grew larger. All the hoses are connected, I've removed the blue washer that reduces the flow of water, and expected the water to drip continuously when I hooked up the first section of soaker hose to our garden hose, which is full of city water and has excellent water pressure. But one section of soaker hose goes very suddenly from wet to dry for no apparent reason!!! AAUUGGHH!!! I'm so frustrated!!! It's not climbing a hill and there are no kinks. It just stops dripping!! I even squished the hose to see if it was obstructed and it wasn't as far as I could tell. I was so irritated I just wanted to yell, "Drip, damn you! Drip!! I'm sure it would have been highly effective.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why My Garden Matters Part 2

I was warned in the parking lot on my way into into work this morning not to look at the pictures on the front page of the newspaper. I was warned again later in the day. As I drove up my my driveway I saw the paper lying there and thought, "I can handle this. It will fuel my boycott of BP." I turned the paper over and burst into tears, the sobs escaping in chokes and gulps. The bird resembled a monster from a children's story, it's featureless face and limp body covered in oil so thick it could barely lift its head. Its mouth hung open in a soundless cry as my voice carried up the driveway. I walked inside and gave into the tears, letting them flow down my cheeks. I couldn't stop crying so I did what I knew would make the world a better place: I gardened.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why My Garden Matters....

Early this morning, still wrapped in my robe and clutching a cup of coffee, I opened my back door to let my dogs out. The bluebird babies greeted the morning with hungry chirps, their appetites immune to the barking dogs and opening and closing of garage doors as the neighbors slowly left for work. The parents took turns looking for food and the chirping only paused when the babies' mouths were too full to complain. Every day I am amazed at the range of animals who find shelter and sustenance in my garden. Caterpillars I have never seen before munch hungrily away at the rue next to my summer regulars, Eastern Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. A female hummingbird quickly sipped at the feeder while I ate my breakfast outside on Saturday, flying away before I could snap a picture. I know she'll be back. Every summer the hummers race from plant to plant, before perching in the dogwood tree to neurotically guard the feeder. I take a deep breath and slowly let it out. I can't stop the violent gushing of oil in the Gulf or the war in the middle east, but I can offer a small slice of respite to the winged creatures lucky enough to live inland. In the largest sense, it is nothing. To the butterflies and honeybees sipping at the flowers in the garden, it is everything.