Friday, February 26, 2016

Bed Measures of Man

Saturday last was a glorious, windless, sunny day of almost 70ºF here on the Kansas prairie, a premature peek at the spring season before winter rallies once again.  ProfessorRoush took advantage of the good-natured weather to begin his spring chores and he bounded madly out with shears, sprayer and sheetbarrow to work for a few cherished hours.

As I removed vast tons of brown winter debris, trimmed a few roses, sprayed the fruit trees with dormant oil, and puttered here and yon with gleeful abandon, I also spent some time in general pondering, mulling once more over the beginning of another year in an aging but happy life.  And it occurred to me that, other than merely making my muscles sore and strained, the measure of my accomplishments on this Saturday could be calculated in beds.  In all, I cleared the debris from 7 beds, or about 3 of the 4 sides of the house.  It was thus a record day, a 7-bed day, in the annals of my gardening life.

It seems to me that one can ultimately measure one's health, aging processes, and perhaps even the advancement of one's wisdom by keeping track of the number of beds one can clean on a first day of spring.  I was certainly pleased on this Saturday that there was no measurable decrease in the number of beds I was able to clear from last year.  In fact, I was even more productive than ever, a gain that I would like to attribute to working wiser, not harder, as I age.  Certainly, I surprised even myself by finding that the abrasion of time has yet to seriously cramp my gardening agenda.

While mulling, my thoughts also turned to how many of the decades of man can also be measured by a number in beds.  As a child, happiness is roughly equivalent to the number of warm and safe beds into which one has been snugly and tightly tucked.  Active pre-teen and teenage males often measure their vitality in the number of uncomfortable but adventurous beds they make in tents or under stars.   Young adult men of my post-hippie generation (and likewise those of all generations reaching back to the Babylonians), measure their victories in the number of strange beds in which one spent a night, a contest that I gladly surrendered to others after I discovered the joys of repeated moments in the embrace of Mrs. ProfessorRoush.  Here in middle age, I'm happy counting in gardening beds, but I recognize that life by garden beds can only last so long.  Old men, too, have a different sort of measure by beds; the measure of how many hospital beds one either avoids or is forced into.

The latter, though is in the future for this gardener.  Today is the feel of sunshine, the buttery yellow of the first snow crocus, warm mulch beneath my knees, and sharp shears in my hands.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Glimpse of Spring

Ssshhhh.  There it is.  Do you see it?  Be careful, don't spook it!  Yes, I'm referring to that pinkie-sized little burgundy-red bullet poking up from the cold, unforgiving ground.  Poor, brave little thing, the first sign of Spring 2016 has appeared in my garden.

I have almost forgotten the feel of warm wind on my face, the warmth of sunlight on my now dry and chapped skin.  It seems like an eternity since the last lightning graced the sky, since the Earth welcomed hot liquid rain to quench thirst and still dust.  You may have noticed my absence from this blog over the past 6 weeks.  My garden and I are strangers now, dreaming to be reacquainted like lost lovers torn apart by war, a civil war begun anew between North and South; only except this North and South are points of the compass and prevailing weather systems rather than quarreling political divisions.  

It's been a dry winter, the last rains ended before the ground froze. Afterwards only frequent frost and hoar to coat the ground and dormant grass.  We've had one snow, a few days of six-inch deep stillness, melted everywhere now except for the deepest north-faced exposures.  I've been lazy this winter, involved in work and in pursuit of hibernation, neglecting the colorful catalogs, unable to rekindle desire even from the most voluptuous and bountiful images of new roses.  The ennui of winter reigns my soul, sapping interest and energy.

But there, in the cold, Paeonia 'Sorbet' rises, slow and stiff and silent.   Somewhere, within the gardener's chest, a slow beat begins.  Lub...........Dub.............Lub...Dub...LubDub, LUBDUB.   Echos of the life without begin again within, a quickening ember fanned to low flame.  It will be weeks, yet, before the fire burns high, but at least I know now that it lives, that wish and thought and action will soon join again to dig and plant and nurture.


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