Friday, June 19, 2009

Pollinators at work

The last two weeks have somehow been far busier than I hoped or planned - I've been losing track of my schedule and forgetting obligations, I fear leaving a trail of let-down colleagues in the process. My calendar isn't that full, but somehow with the lack of school schedule, I just can't keep track of it all.
Meanwhile, though, I've watching the crazy-rich blooming in our yard. I can hardly count the little bees on our spirea and sundrops, and by the time we get back from vacation, the oregano will be in full bloom, attracting all the pollinators who will have, by then, finished up with the current wave of blooms.
They're almost biblical, not sowing, but reaping, thriving, and working constantly nonetheless. If they fail to pollinate it is because we've poisoned them, not because they got scheduled somewhere else nor because they woke up and forgot to check their calendars. They do one thing, and do it well. Their mindfulness which reminds me of how Laurel's Kitchen's authors recommend that we knead bread, or cook, or garden, or whatever it is that calls us at the moment. It reminds me of times when I used cookbooks as reading material, not as emergency instructions to stave off the hunger looming at our family like a Wild Thing.
My mind at this time of year is scattered. But perhaps after some rest, some play, a break from cell phones, when I come back I might be able to focus better. On July 13, I'm helping lead a hike in South Park (no relation to the cartoon), part of a series of hikes called the Interconnectedness Series. I'm looking forward to it. At the moment, it is just something on my calendar, but my hope is that by mid-July, each day will have its tasks, and I'll be ready to do my own work again, whatever it is at that moment.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Not many weeds, but a beautiful place anyway...

I just got back yesterday morning from taking the girls, seeing my cousins, visiting with old and new friends, and attending a conference in Victoria, BC. We saw a weedy animal - feral rabbits - reducing clover populations at the University of Victoria; I can't tell you how many times in the last few days I've heard "Mommy, can we have a bunny?" We spend many lovely hours at a neighborhood beach, just down the street from a neighborhood grocery and coffee shop, all walking distance from our university housing.

In terms of my life as a gardener, though, the undeniable highlight was Butchart Gardens, two-bus ride away and worth every second of transfer time and curb-sitting we spent getting there and back. I've seen gardens and arboretums (arboretae?) in many places, but never one with green roofs on the snack shacks, green roofs on the trash cans, and flowers which could inspire my children to take 300 photos within a 2 hour span. (The flowers shown are a bed set in the top of a waste receptacle - I can't even bring myself to call it a trash can)

I only had one regret about the place: the lawns were absolutely even, grass-only, and golf-course perfect. Clearly, undeniably, sprayed. The lawns were the only bit of wasted space in the whole place. I've never been anywhere, never even imagined a place, where I'd like the trash cans better than the lawns, but at Butchart Gardens, that's not even an insult.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer on the lawn

Last fall a strip of our yard got torn up by the township, while they were fixing pipes underneath, so I had a chance to start from scratch on seed. Purchased: bag of wildflower mix, bag of loose Penn State grass seed, bag of white clover seed. Here are a couple of the little highlights. The little white cluster of flowers is some kind of spurge, I think, but I have no idea about the little lavender star shaped flower. Unfortunately it is going to get regular mowings, and unfortunately my reel mower is reelly dead - I think it has stripped gears. It is only 3.5 years old, and a Brill, but I don't know that they intended it for regularly mowing 1/2 acre I need to go dig out the warranty.

It is summer. We find ourselves on our own lawn, admiring the garden flowers as well as whatever is hiding in the grass. My roses don't demand anything sharply - or else they know I would just trim them to the ground - and I don't have any throaty cabbage calls, but the tomatoes are fighting with the potatoes, and the snap peas are threatening to pull down their rabbit fence. No matter, because they're all growing wildly, loving the frequent rains we've gotten. For the girls at least, school's not out officially, but that never stopped me from turning off *my* brain at the end of May. Time to stop thinking and start watching what grows.

In case you missed it, more shameless self-promotion...

and tomorrow I am posting photos of a new lawn flower, as yet unidentified by me, which came up from a wildflower seed mix I threw in a couple of months ago.

The girls and I are off to Vancouver Island on Wednesday for the ASLE (Literature and the Environment) conference. I keep trying to explain to them that although we'll see beaches it will be too cold to swim, but since we're taking swimsuits just in case, I don't think they believe me about the cold. Some lessons are fine to learn the hard way!