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. 

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