Friday, September 9, 2016


The summer has been hot. Too hot. As I drove home from work yesterday my car's dashboard kindly informed me that it was 104 degrees outside. I'm pretty sure the car exaggerated, but I understand the impulse. It was hot.

The poor garden has been hot, too, and dry. Of all the garden chores in the world watering is my least favorite, but also the chore my garden would most like me to do regularly. Poor garden - dependent on a person who loves it deeply, but cannot provide what it most needs. Tough love, garden, tough love. It seems to be surviving despite me.

I added espalier apples around the vegetable garden this spring. I finally got my Cox's Orange Pippin and a couple other heirloom apples that I've been reading about and wanting for years. I am hoping that they will help add a little structure and screening to the veggie garden, which looks nice in the early spring when the currants bloom and the kale comes up, but then declines into messiness and weeds come summer. I also just like to espalier things.
Milo doesn't seem to mind the heat too much, despite being a bulldog.

But I still blame all the garden destruction - decapitated lilies, yellowed lawn, and dog wallows in the flower beds - on him.

We have another creature I can blame some of the destruction on, perhaps. We have been seeing a rat in the garden, a beautiful sleek creature that frequents the back porch and the ground-level window of Grant's office. I asked Grant if he had seen the rat, and added "And did you notice? He has the most enormous -" and Grant cut in "balls. Yes, I know. Huge." What does it say about us, I wonder, that we both notice rat genitalia? To be fair, it was pretty hard to ignore. So while our well endowed rat is beautiful and I have no real problem with garden rats (aside from plague, of course) I'm not sure our neighbors feel the same, so I'll be working on new, screened compost bins this fall.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Escape into the Garden

It seems there is no end to the ugliness in the news this summer. Police brutalizing and killing black people, crazies murdering police, young men full of hate committing murder with guns on a massive scale, a political season that leaves me wondering how we got to this ugly place, and how we can possibly find our way to a more hopeful, more just country.

I escape the radio and newspapers in the garden. There is plenty of death, destruction, violence, and uncouth behavior in the garden, but at least we humans aren't to blame for it.

One day in June:

One day in July:

New Paths

One warm-ish day in February I decided that what we really needed was a gravel path between the driveway and the front path. The grass was trampled and thin from all of us cutting across rather than going around, and I have been eying the area bound by the house, the driveway, the sidewalk, and the front path for years as potential garden bed. But digging out grass and building paths is no easy task, so I procrastinated. Until that warm-ish day in February.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wandering Eye

I’ve been looking at houses online. It feels transgressive, a betrayal of my solid and unexciting little house. We’ve been together for so many years, you see, and it really was a perfect match all those years ago, but now I look at other houses and think about what might have been. Or could be.

There is one house for sale I keep looking up. The house itself is nothing special, aside from its spectacular 1960’s ranch house mojo. If we bought it I would spend months ripping out dirty carpet and pink toilets. But it backs up to the Patuxent river, with a half acre of land running down into the parkland at the river’s edge. I can imagine a garden tumbling down that hill, meeting the forest in a shrubby verge, and continuing along a mysterious path through the woods to the river at the bottom of the valley. I imagine Noah spending afternoons playing by the creek with his dogs, rather than playing Minecraft on the iPad.

But I keep circling around the idea that this little house of ours, with all its flaws, is somehow alive. I feel tender toward it, sorry for its hurts and insults, and I would grieve to leave it alone in the neighborhood without us. All of this is ridiculous. And yet I can’t help but feel that the lives lived in a house are connected to that house, that severing the link to a place severs the link to those lives. Maybe I feel this more keenly as someone with a terrible memory. I need the place to trigger the memory of things that happened there. I don’t want to lose the wedding rehearsal dinner in the backyard, the Thanksgivings with now-gone family, the sound of rain on the tree by our bedroom window, the feel of Noah’s skin as I rubbed his back at bedtime. I want to keep the lives I have lived in this house close to me, safe from time.

That nothing is safe from time, especially not a house or a memory, should be clear to me by now. And yet I am reluctant to willfully leave my past selves alone in a discarded house. I hope that when the time comes to go, as it inevitably will someday in the next fifty years, those past selves hold on tight and come along for the ride.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fairy Tale

Some things only come with time. A pergola hung with roses in June is one of them. And under this pergola with its softly falling rose petals we will celebrate Mom and Dad's fiftieth wedding anniversary this weekend. For just a few weeks this shabby little house looks like a fairy tale cottage, snug and embowered with blooms. No marriage is a fairy tale, but getting to celebrate fifty years of love and life surely is a story worth telling. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad.