Sunday, January 30, 2022

Near Sunset

Sometimes the "near" sunset on the prairie is more stunning than the sunset itsel

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Creatures Gonna Creep

Creatures creep in my garden fair,

They sneak and crawl, go here and there.

They run, they jump, they eat, they fight,

They wander there most every night.

I think my garden mine alone,

They think the garden theirs to roam.

When nighttime falls, then out they come,

They're feeding off of my green thumb.

Deer and skunks and squirrels and coons,

The garden mine in afternoons.

At night, the garden, creatures own,

They sit upon my garden throne.

Share I must, I must not kill,

The creatures linger out there still.

I surrender all to them each night,

They cede the garden, mine each light.

ProfessorRoush collected his game cameras last month and I was surprised, as always, by the life of my garden at night.   I was less enthused at the skunk that made an appearance, but she seemed to be just wandering through.   The coyotes  are the most frequent visitors, patrolling the beds for rodents and generally just slinking around every night.   

But, I recognize that life in the garden is fleeting, here one minute and gone the next minute, just like the sudden starlings in the photo above and the empty ground a few seconds later of the photo below.  Notice the time stamp on these two pictures.  Life is fleeting in the garden.


Sunday, January 9, 2022

Sounds of Sage

Oh, how ProfessorRoush misses the garden.  I wandered out today, warmed prior from indoor exercise and enticed by sunshine.  The air seemed warmer than its measured temperature of 23ºF at 1:30 p.m., and yet it is all still and damp out there, snow drifts melting away to a frozen ground beneath, brown and tan foliage remnants of past plants as far as I can see beneath clear blue skies.  Bella, too, misses our moments of exploration, glued to my side as she sniffs for changes and danger in her garden.

I can only offer you garden pornography today, the photos here taken in the high moments of summer, the prickly white poppy a beacon of delicate lace and yellow pollen and Russian sage drawing in bumblebees frantic to store food then for this month, this season right now.   These photographs of a garden now dead, now stiff remnants and seedheads to mark their passing, these are all I have for you, memories of a world months past.

Where are, I wonder, these bees today, happily buried in warm nests, or dead husks beneath the snow?  I don't know enough about the life cycle of these corpulent flying workers and I should; I should know enough to help them survive and thrive, being that knowledge is power and all that.  I have a "bee house" up, an artful name for a board with 1/4" holes drilled in it, and some of the holes are plugged with mud suggesting the hope of pupae inside, but am I a helper or hindrance?  Truly, in gardening and in our relationships with nature, we can never have enough knowledge about the world around us.  There are surely been enough blunders and unintended consequences of well-meant but unenlightened action.

Oh, what I'd give today to hear the buzz in this Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), black and yellow busy-ness flitting among the light blue flowers.  The 'Champlain' rose at its feet is shockingly red, screaming for attention, but the honeybees ignore the sterile rose, it  lacks the attraction of the dusky sage above it for the bustling insects.  Here is my Sunday epiphany, this cold Sunday of beginnings and doorways, of Janus: We gardeners, we think of flowers as silent, as colorful or artful elements to arrange over our gardens, but sage is more, sage is noise, the buzzing of a hundred visitors at once, the transformation of color into motion.  Today in memory I can recall the flowers, but I miss the sounds, the sounds of vibrant life now absent in this cold season, the sounds of sage trading pollen for propagation, the garden fertile and fecund. 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

S'now a New Year

...and a happy snowy New Year!   I got my Christmas wish answered a little late, in the early morning hours of the new year, but I'm still happy to see it arrive.   ProfessorRoush is, by no means, a snow creature, but I do like to see one snow a year, a nice white snow to wipe the slate of summer clean and cover the debris of fall.  This front came in a little growl-ley, a little blizzard-y, but off the Rockies it came, sweeping the plains of Kansas clean.

But once a year is enough, dear Old Man Winter, so stopping it here would be fine, mind you.  The same scene as above, taken yesterday and shown below, is bland for a winter view, but quite desired over the arctic alternative.  This past weekend, outside in 60ºF and cleaning up the crushed remains of my trellis, I was eyeing the perennial beds and thinking I should get a start on them and get ahead for the season.   Today, and probably for the next month, I won't be thinking that again.  I like to see snow, but too much cold weather and I start dreaming of retiring south, a South home of my imagination at present, but I see no reason to spend a winter hibernating once my days of employment are past.  Someday, I want a home up north, here perhaps, perhaps closer to my boyhood home in Indiana, and I'll wait until the first snow fills that empty spot in my soul and then I'll skedaddle south without bothering to shovel the walk.

This little angel of mine, a gift from my father many years back, sits by the front steps, blessing visitors as they pass.  It's seen better days, a wing knocked off by an errant child or pet and glued precariously back, but it has good days yet ahead of it.   Dusted by the storm, it seems to welcome the sunlight of the 2nd day of January, the warm Kansas sun out to begin to melt that snow down into life-changing moisture for the prairie.  Or was it merely watching over me as I cleared the walk, protecting this old man from the strenuous shoveling demise that fells so many?

One the other side of the house, my terra-cotta maiden faces unflinchingly east, a little rouge from her core showing on her weathered cheeks, but otherwise protected from the northern blizzards and drifts that the angel faces.  She doesn't need to look for Gandolf to come from "the east on the first light of the fifth day," for the sun rose here at dawn on the 2nd day of 2022, beginning the cycle of thawing.  The maiden faces a new year, a new fresh garden to grow again, bones in place, awaiting warmth and flesh and moisture to grow and flourish in another year of summer.



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