Some days I wish I had a big backyard. Today I’m weeding and Mowing and raking and it’s not one of those days! But that’s not the only reason. One of the other reasons is I find a lot of beauty out there while I’m working! I see the Bumblebees overcrowding the yellow zinnias. I see the Black Swallowtail flitting over the carrots. I see the nasturtium intertwined on a Oakleaf hydrangea seedling, and the curve of the stem of The Perennial begonia. I see the plants that we have put there begin to breathe when the debris from the storm is removed or the vines that grow faster than we could imagine have been pulled away and found Treasures of heirloom tomatoes still ripening under the vines. Is that enough for one morning? It’s getting hot out there.
We have had a recent wedding among our children and another a little over a year ago. It reminds one of ‘the early days’. When we were married I was still 18 and Joel 21. I moved far from my home and all I knew so he could be part of his family’s greenhouse business. They always treated me like family, so that wasn’t an issue, ever. I had so much to discover of what was common and every day to them. Yesterday we read the passage in church from Isaiah 55 “Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, instead of briers the myrtle will grow…” I had memorized that in the 5th grade and wondered what a myrtle was. One day as Joel and I were rounding a bend in Buck Schoolhouse road I said, “What is that?” “A Myrtle tree” “OHHHHhhhh!!” It’s a beauty! I’ve been asking that question quite a bit since then and he rarely says he doesn’t know. If he does, I wonder what is wrong with him!
He thought I would cook like his grandmother. I got a letter from my grandma reminiscing about her early cooking days. His family ate that , Hers ate this, and on and on. It was a comfort to hear. If there was a weekly activity, there was a weekly “debate” about it. Like grocery shopping. I learned to drive after I got married. In Baltimore. I paid for lessons. My mom told me not to let him teach me how to drive. I think she had driving lesson scars from my dad!!
My mother had a green thumb and loved to garden, so plants were not new to me. We had lived in the country most of my growing up years, but the greenhouses were an entirely different level of anything I had known before.
One day one of his cousins gave us a goose that he had shot, a Canada goose. I am pretty sure it was dressed (or undressed!) , so I invited someone over and cooked goose for the first (and only) time. Everything was for the first time. I’d never eaten wild bird before!
After we had been married about a month, we went to the beach and then stayed overnight at a motel. We went to a little restaurant for breakfast in the morning and all the waiters were men. And they served fresh-squeezed orange juice. Another first for me, but not for my Florida boy! I remember that as a quiet time. Either it was what we expected it to be , or we set aside our expectations. I really don’t remember the ocean then. I just remember that lovely little restaurant.
We lived in the downstairs apartment of a house on the greenhouse property that had once belonged to a great aunt and uncle. The next generation had taken their turns in that house and we heard about it. It was a big square house and we had three big rooms, a small room at the front door, an ample kitchen, and a bathroom of course. It had a ‘gas fireplace’ which we scorned. It was a fake log with a pipe coming through it and a brick facade. And stained glass windows on either side. I put the monkey fern in there and it promptly died! Well…
We had a baby while we were living there, too. Like I say, everything was for the first time. I was visiting a young friend recently and was noting with astonishment she and her husband have been married 5 years already. We have known them since they were engaged. She replied, “I know! It went by in a blink!” I sort of feel that way about the 40 years I’ve been married. It might be just a blink, but a lot if living happens in those blinks!
At fireworks on our 40th wedding anniversary with a grandson.
Years ago my husband read an article in a magazine called Color Coordinated Gardening . We went on a quest. I remember we spent a lot of money on just seeds! What stuck with us were the purple, yellow, and green beans. They are so pretty in a bowl together.
Not quite so long ago we watched a documentary called the Botany of Desire. It’s also a book. Potatoes originated in Peru and they come in all kinds of colors. What fascinated me was that the farmers wore the colors of their crops! I had always thought all those colors in the seed catalog were hybridizations of the one true white potatoe!
The Yukon Golds are up and running. The Adirondack Reds are cut loose and set. Them potatoes have traveled a good distance!
You can read if it interests you but this particular post I am going to use as a record for this year’s garden. If you follow me, you will see the edits.
Last week I called my neighbor to ask if he has easy access to manure. He didn’t but he was bringing a truck home from work if I found some. When I called a mulch place to order mulch, I got a couple of possibilities. So when Neighbor Nick called me back, I was ready. He was readier. He took a chance stopping at a horse farm on the way home and the farmer scooped it in with his tractor! He came home, picked up is wife and me (and their baby) and we went to the garden with the Dump truck and Dumped it out! Aaaand they helped me rake it out!
When Nick started to toss around the manure, I grinned and said I love watching a man work! Erin wasn’t sure she was getting a fair shake . She had an interview earlier that day and was still wearing a skirt. When she started tossing it around I said she was picturesque in different way!
That was last Friday. On Tuesday, the mulch was delivered. Yes, another dump truck, right at the edge of our plot.
It’s the cheap kind. Cut fine, no dues or chemicals. 😀
Yesterday Joel got the tiller to the garden and tilled. And we planted Yukon gold potatoes. We like them. We leaned against the tires of the truck and ate hamburgers. It was breezy and a little chilly, with more chilly days to come. It’s a half and half garden. Half mine, half his. The potatoes are on his half.
Resting after planting tomatoe and squash beds. Shoveling, mulching and tucking them in against a few more cool days. 5/ 10/2017
Scaring the deer. We put up black netting but they need something about eye level.
WordPress tells me that this is my story space. I’m going to take advantage of that. In the past nearly 40 years, Joel and I have belonged to nine different churches. Sounds like a large number. Mostly we have moved on because we moved lock stock and barrel. (Why does that sound like a gun??) but a couple of times, we have just slipped off. We have always gone to a Presbyterian Church and not felt a need for something different.
About a year ago, we unhooked ourselves from all the responsibilities that we had in the inner-city church plant that we have been part of for nearly 10 years. We just wanted a break. At the time, I was tutoring a child who is reading Black Beauty. Did you ever read Black Beauty? I found it frustrating when I was young, the horse going from good situation to bad to good too bad, etc. but reading it again I felt like the horse represented those who can’t speak for themselves. They just get whatever gets dished out to them. In one situation, the horse has a good, but hard-working master who was a taxi driver in London. The driver had gotten enough clients that he can take Sunday off and spend the day with his family and go to church. This pleases his wife to no end and it gives the horse a break from the hard, daily labor. One day, one of his wealthiest clients tells him that he would like him to take his wife to church on the other side of the city on Sunday. The taxi driver demurred, mentioning that his wife really likes when he has it off and he’ll ask her but he’s not optimistic. She’s furious about the clients wife wanting service from her husband on the one day that he has off. She insists that the woman has plenty of places to go to church without being driven.
It made me wonder. I know I live in a church dense city. It’s not very big. I generally know what close to me but what do I really know? I started looking at websites to see what they would say about themselves. There is a big, old Lutheran Church about 2 1/2 blocks away and on their mission statement they said they are here to proclaim the Word. I had always thought that it was more or less a club for people who thought they were good citizens and went to church on Sunday. So…. we decided to check it out. It has been renewing to us from the very first time. We hear the Gospel preached every Sunday. We hear people , young and old, sing heartily around us. We see the young embraced and the old looked after. We see them stepping up to serve the community around them, even if they don’t live here. Sometimes I want to stand up and say, “I have a confession to make. I have lived practically down the street from here for nearly 10 years and I didn’t think you knew Jesus!” I get teary every time we share the Lord’s Supper an usher comes to our pew and opens the door (church was built in the 1730s so each pew has a door. It kept in the heat in the old days) and invites us and when we go forward – and kneel- someone says to each individual by name, “This is Christ’s body/ blood which was broken/ shed for you.” There is a surge of family feeling as we gather round. And the music is Always wonderful.
My daughter and SIL have had a parallel experience. In fact , about a year earlier, we were sitting in a coffee shop in their town and I said, ” Don’t you want to take a month of Sundays and find out what is going on in these churches nearby? We think we know, but we don’t really. We never go to them. ” my SIL high-fived me. At first, my daughter and I were calling/ texting each other every Sunday. One Sunday we had each taken a photo of a hymn we were singing and texted them!
Often when I am listening I wonder why in the world we are so divided in our little denominational boxes. I can’t for the life of me figure out what is so different we don’t share in worship. It is so profound, I feel like I am hit in the chest. At the same time , I know a feeling of caution before saying that I am going to a Lutheran church, because I feel that I will get branded as someone who has left the faith. I most certainly have not. We are missing out.
There’s a Wideness in God’s mercy
Like the wideness of the sea,
There’s a kindness in God’s justice
Which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows
Are more felt than up on heaven,
There is no place where earth’s failings
Have such kindly judgment given.
So I just finished watching ‘The West’, the documentary by Ken Burns. I have watched probably an inordinate amount of KB documentaries in the past year because I had the time on my hands. I started watching this one because somewhere in the gun control chatter I said., “How the West was Won.” and that truly has something to do with it, but it is even larger. KB does not gloss over much, or play French horn triumph music in the background. In fact the theme music for this one was an Indian chant, the sound a little foreign to my Western Civilization ears. I have three words for how the West was won: treachery, greed , and arrogance. And guns of course. I was going to say treachery, treachery and treachery, and it all seems the same. Not much else. There are appalling government sanctioned and sponsored acts of violence against certain kinds of peoples, or peoples in a given area. So those who had a hatred for a certain kind of people or what they stood for could legally go in and wipe them out. Or if they were just feeling blood-thirsty or self-righteous. I have read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee some time ago, so I knew something. I had even read a little about the conflicts of Kansas and Missouri, at least to know they existed, they were bloody, and they involved the issue of slavery. But there was an extent to which I had no idea. There were slaves who gained their freedom and settled in Kansas and they were attacked with the intent of driving them out, with the law on the side of the attackers. It was like its own Civil War before the Civil War. There were peace -keeping Native-Americans who were driven from one place to another, till they were driven to Canada or shot. There was history of the NA as well, which is ill-served by a generation watching cowboy and Indian television shows. The Transatlantic Railroad was SLAMMED through the mountains. Some of it is over dead people’s bodies because they were in a race. Only the Chinese were willing to work that hard and the white American man worked him. There were whites who gave their lives for the railroad, or lived in slums, because that is all working for the railroad afforded him, but the Chinese bore the worst of it. There were Mexicans in California for several generations before it became a state. Then they were treated as unwanted newcomers. I suppose the Californios are a mix of people who came to California at one time or another. I was ready to not watch anymore when the story was told that in their villages the oldest man would walk through the village singing in the morning to wake everyone up. I bet he didn’t let them sleep in! But can you imagine?? The railroad upended their whole way of life. Then Los Angeles was built where a city could not be sustained. So when they ran out of water, they got permission from the federal government to drain the Owens River Valley which was being used by farmers who had previously gotten the feds promise that it would not be drained. So a tunnel was carved across the desert for over 200 miles just so LA could grow bigger and have water. And, yes, the farms were irretrievably ruined. I am sure I am re-stating this in pretty simple terms, after all, it was nine episodes. Oh yes, then there was the de-culturization of the NA by the missionaries. The children were taken away, they did not learn their own language, they were dressed ‘properly’ and lived in proper houses, because we all know we can’t abide that squatting community outside of town. You get your square of land and you stay on it. It’s genocide.
There there is the Lakota Indian who tells toward the end of the documentary how he would go into the mountains and pray. One night while he was up there, he had a vision of all the promises and treaties that were broken one by one. When he awoke, he just wanted to go down the mountain and start shooting. But then the sun began to rise and he watched it. As he watched it, he wanted to live. But he understood the only way he could stand it was to forgive. Every day he has to forgive. He said it what they all have to learn to do or they will end up drunk or dead on the road.
The point was made at the end that is has always been about the land. As much as it is scarred, it still has incredible beauty that has a measure of healing in it.
I think there is something seriously flawed in the American DNA, because freedom-seeking people wrote ‘All men are created equal’ and continued to allow slavery to exist. While this may be the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, I have begun to think the free and the brave are not the people we usually think of. We white people live here largely (but not exclusively) because someone else was treacherous to someone else. A social worker once told me that those who are abused tend to pass the abuse to the next generation. I’ve heard stories how ex-slaves of one kind of people treat those who serve them , of another kind of people, as slaves. There is something like a drug in our brains that finds controlling other people satisfactory, and it is not particular to any one kind of people, not even exploitative white Americans. It gives a false sense of importance and meaning to our lives. When I read how Jesus responds to people in the Bible, he most often says things they did not expect or understand, but what was needful. They wanted him to be the one who would get on his horse and charge at the Roman army and forever end their oppression.(Why? So they could be on top and look down at their oppressors?) It didn’t happen. I think Jesus will continue the unexpected and the incredible, even in our time, because it is still what is needful. Maybe he will use the Lakota to teach us how to forgive. Or how to use the land for healing. Maybe these awful ugly scars can be made tender, but stay as reminders. Maybe I need to think outside the box of my house, the square of my city, the customs I am used to as ‘normal’.
By the way, I have also watched ‘The Roosevelts’, ‘Prohibition”, and ‘The Dust Bowl’. Probably all blog worthy,but this is the one that is getting it.
We have lived in our city house for nearly 9 years. I have griped Way too much about how hard it is to keep it warm in the winter. In April 2015, we found a way to start working toward installing a wood stove. We ended up renovating our living area. We painted a different color that we mixed ourselves, we reconfigured shelves, we painted a chimney and a tree, and rearranged the furniture. We used whatever freebie wood we could get.
This year somebody tipped us off to some good supply of hardwood. Never thought I’d say it, but this house is toasty in the winter. Sometimes I even walk around in my bare feet! It feels like luxury. If you need a fire to sit by, you are welcome to ours. We are home in the evening more often than not. Feel free to bring a book or your knitting. The mugs and Tea are in good supply.