Weeds Begone!

It’s that time of year again. As a relative newcomer to the “joys” of gardening, I’ve posted before about my efforts at husbandry. (Actually, I’m slightly surprised I remembered that ancient history … I mean, Dude, it was like two years ago!)2014-garden

In one of my posts, exactly two years ago to the day, I pictured my raised bed garden spot and in another post, I pictured the horrifying overgrowth of weeds that has caused me no end of frustration. Now that it seems Spring has taken hold (notwithstanding this morning’s 36° temperature), I’ve been noticing lots of blossoms on my strawberry plants. Each one is a reminder I should begin tending to their care.

Since my grandson was also in my care today, I decided this afternoon would be a good time for outdoor activity. An hour in the garden wasn’t going to be long enough to eradicate the weeds that have sprung up since last Fall, but it would be a start … so I told myself.

Three and a half hours later (with the sun going down), I captured the above picture before moving inside to make dinner. (Can you tell I’m slightly OCD?) When I planted our first garden (lo, those many years ago … 2010), my challenge was the Bermuda grass. Hoyt Axton used to sing about working one’s “fingers to the bone.” I understand that song by personal experience! I’m not sure I’ve ever worked at anything harder or longer than getting rid of the Bermuda. (I’m not saying it’s completely gone yet, but I’ve made a monumental effort, which continues.)

Today’s challenge wasn’t Bermuda grass. There were multiple other stubborn weeds though. One which had proliferated was a shallow-rooted but invasive weaver that twisted itself around and through the strawberry stems and everything else. It could be coaxed away, but if I was too insistent, the tender strawberry plants came with it. Worse, with each yank, I could see quarter-inch seed pods dropping into the soil!

Then there were the little bunches of delicate three-leaf-clover plants (lusciously green and when they flower, the petals are yellow), shoots of onion grass, something else with flowering heads that resembles rabbits-foot clover. I know I didn’t get them all out by the roots, so I’m resigned to seeing more of them at some future date.

As I worked today, I listened to God’s still small voice whispering through the wind, reminding me of the analogy I’d made in an earlier post:  comparing weeds to sin. Now even if you’re not a Christ-follower, you know about sin, right? For Christians, sin is that despicable thing which impedes our fellowship with God. But even non-religious people know something about “what evil lurks in the hearts of men.” (The Shadow knew.)

My understanding of sin deepens every time I engage in garden work. As I pulled to remove the entwined stems weaving themselves in and around and through every other thing in the bed, I couldn’t help but be reminded how sin inexorably invades our hearts, sometimes to the point of sucking all the love, joy and peace out of our existence. Like a weed, sin chokes us.

Each time I handled one of those weeds and watched its delicate seed pods (or maybe just seeds?) fall into the soil, I was again reminded how tenacious sin is, how insistent it is to take hold and destroy. Oh, we humans try to “do better,” “walk the straight and narrow,” “turn over a new leaf,” but sin has embedded itself. We can struggle against it, but like little weed-seeds, the habits of sin don’t let us off so easily. Root out one despicable sin and it crops up in a different iteration.

For Christians, we do have the resource of Christ through his Holy Spirit. What a blessing!

As for the garden bed in my yard, I’ve scaled back my plans and expectations. Last year’s tomatoes were a huge disappointment due to rotting from the roots upward. The green beans never seemed capable of generosity and the peppers had less than reasonable production. I had plenty of zucchini and much was saved in the freezer, but it’s still there today! Zucchini bread? Not a big seller at this address.

I’m learning to acknowledge my limitations. Although I’ve occasionally enjoyed working in the soil, I have yet to decide whether it’s the novelty of Spring or not. (I tend to think it may be.) I will keep at it … especially for my strawberries and the raspberry bush (partially visible on the right in the above picture).

But as with the great poet Robert Louis Stevenson, my garden − the one to which my heart is truly devoted − involves cultivating and tending verses. Therein, I am content.

 

Not In My Backyard!

NPM1Are you ready for a Frivolous Friday? To continue my observance of National Poetry Month, I chose a more lighthearted poem for today’s post.

Earlier this week, my daughter-in-law had placed an old claw-foot bathtub in front of her business with a FREE sign attached to it. When she first found the tub (early in her marriage), she was excited to purchase it for a hefty sum and hopeful she’d eventually find a house where she could use it in her decor. For several years, the tub sat in our barn but then she hauled it out to use as an front-porch fixture at her vintage store.

As the years have gone by, the heavy porcelain tub became less of an interesting fixture and more of an annoyance, so she finally decided she’d had enough. Once she turned the item into a freebie, a number of locals expressed hopes to claim it but the tub’s weight meant whoever claimed it was going to need a truck and some strong backs in order to haul it off. Thankfully, it was gone when DIL arrived at her shop on Monday morning.

Basin-Innovation, plumbing fixtures, tub, sink, back yard, light verse, poetry, poem
Poem: Basin Innovation

I’ve posted before about what I consider the absurdity of yard and garden ornaments that were once fixtures inside someone’s house. Today’s post approaches this oddity with a different spin than the February 2nd post. (If memory serves me, Bowl Role and this poem were written about the same time.) I’m still astounded at the creative repurposing of these items … and how people proudly show off their creations! I guess it beats disposing the fixtures at the landfill … but it still seems slightly tacky to me.

 

Forsythia Redux

ConnerToday’s post is a tribute. First of all, it’s a continuation of yesterday’s post in which I promised TC Conner an original poem in his honor. Unlike me, TC appears to be quite a well-versed gardener. (How’s that for a double-entendre, TC?) Thinking about the back and forth comments on yesterday’s post, as I went about creating a new poem, I found it hard to veer away from (1) TC’s interest and (2) what’s foremost in my mind right now … the burgeoning Spring.

I’ve mentioned before my own love/hate relationship with gardening. For many years, my stated goal was simply to be the recipient of other people’s surplus … being a recipient served producers by encouraging them to dispose of their overflow without having to throw it into the compost or garbage pile! (I was helping them.) Am I right, gardeners?

Somehow over the years, though, I’ve still managed to learn snippets about various plants. (It’s easier for me to collect information than to apply that information in the dirt.) Information about the Forsythia plant is a case in point.

As one of the first plants to emerge in the Spring, the Forsythia’s yellow petals are what come out first. Eventually, the green leaves follow, but I think it’s fascinating the yellow leaves are so anxious to debut … kind of like an excited child who can’t wait until Christmas Day to open presents!

Oftentimes, in my part of the country, the Daffodils and Forsythia will raise their bright yellow petals on the first moderately warm day, even when Spring might be several weeks away. What amuses me is how often a sudden snow paints the landscape white, but the yellow petals from both plants stand out against the white snow.

My free verse poem for TC develops the same thought as yesterday’s Cinquain. (Because the Cinquain form has obvious limitations, I wanted to use the same idea but employ free verse this time, so I could further develop the theme. Today’s poem is definitely more complete than yesterday’s.)

ASIDE:  I burned up the highway today traveling to and from the Rock (Little Rock). The 200+ mile trip showed me that Spring is already blooming down there. The Dogwood trees (one of my favorites) are beginning to flower, but not yet filled with the beauty they’ll soon have. It amazes me the differences are so distinct even though we’re not that much farther north than Little Rock.

TC, here’s your poem and I hope you share my appreciation for the Forsythia!

Spring-Retreat, forsythia, light verse, poetry, poem
Poem: Spring Retreat

 

Now I want to mention the examples of poetry that were shared on yesterday’s post in the comments section. TC stepped right up and put together a nice Cinquain! Bravo! He also demonstrated the form is easily adaptable to almost any expression, given a little thought. Thanks TC for being a quick study and an excellent sport!

Further, ah, yes, Doobster418 dragged his feet a bit. (For those of you who know Doob, is this anything new?) But then, he showed his true colors (Phantom Poet)! His effort at crafting a Cinquain quite surpassed his earlier effort at the Limerick! I have high hopes for you, Doobster, because you’ve proven you’re also a quick study … and lots of fun to boot. Thanks for giving me so many laughs the last couple days!

I can’t end this post without a comment on the word Forsooth. I’m going to agree with Doobster that poetry often contains words and images (failed images, in my view) that create barriers and discourage readers. This is a legitimate argument against a large portion of poetry. I also agree with Doobster that the point of poetry should be communication and should not be to conceal or obscure.

The perfect illustration is Doobster’s cinquain. He used the word Forsooth, but then he made a great point:  plain-spoken speech (or writing) usually communicates much more effectively! Indeed!

All of us who are writers are attempting to communicate; we have to ask ourselves everyday whether we’re communicating effectively or not. When crafting a poem, I want the form and word usage to be beautiful, but if I sacrifice meaning, what good is it? We can all learn from Doobster’s observations, and in the process, vastly improve our communication.

But honestly, methinks Forsooth is a superb complement for Forsythia. Will you at least give me that, Doobster?

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Requests for custom-designed poems are flowing in from every corner of the globe!

Forsythia_clip_art_hightActually, that’s not quite true. I’ve had a single request, and that one from Pennsylvania (which isn’t exactly a corner of the globe).

TC Conner over at TheWriteGardener.Com suffered a case of the green-eyed monster (see the comments section of my post Phantom Poet) because I’d sufficiently ragged on Doobster418 to the point he penned a mindfully-digressive piece of verse in response. Since Doobster418 had neglected (so far) to reciprocate to Conner’s attentions (by writing a poem about him), Conner turned desperately to me:  would I write a poem for him?

Okay, I’m exaggerating. Conner wasn’t exactly desperate. I know he wasn’t … it’s just fun to create a little drama, you know?

Once I familiarized myself with Mr. Connor’s blog, I knew I already had a Cinquain that would suit him perfectly! It appears he’s as anxious as I am for Spring to finally slam the door on this polar vortex thing. (He has very nice photos of Spring flowers to help us usher in the season.)

No, I didn’t want my new friend, TC Conner, to feel left out, so I have indulged his request … okay, well, maybe I’m fudging a bit (since I’d already written this one), so this isn’t genuinely a piece of poetry written for him. But it is a good poem that fits his blog’s specific interest and should definitely suffice until tomorrow.

Forsythia, Spring, cinquain, poetry, poem
Poem: Forsythia, A Cinquain

Tomorrow, a second poem for TC.

In the meantime, I recommend his blog. I haven’t read all of it, but I’m learning about things like garden hoses and such. (If you’ve read any of my blog posts on gardening, you’ll know immediately I really need the help!)

A Rose By No Other Name

rosesMore than two hundred years ago, Romantic poet Robert Burns wrote an enduring − though simple − love poem that I’ve reproduced below.

Known as the Bard of Scotland, Burns wrote (and spelled) in a manner some might say is peculiar. This reflects his lowland Scottish roots and the Scots language spoken there.

       A Red, Red Rose
O my Luve’s like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Another Bard, Shakespeare, provided us with an equally memorable reference (lines 47-48) associated with the rose: Romeo hears Juliet forswear her family name, saying “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

As one of the most ubiquitous symbols of Valentine’s Day, red roses are always a stunning gift. (On a recent store outing, I saw a flower display that featured tulips shaped to resemble roses. They were quite beautiful!)

Who among us doesn’t enjoy fresh flowers? (If anyone dares raise a hand in contradiction, I will ignore you!) Roses of course are especially fragrant and I love how their scent fills a room.

The sonnet I’ve posted below is in the Visser Sonnet form. This sonnet form is named for Audrae Visser (1919-2006) who served as Poet Laureate of South Dakota from 1974 to 2001. There’s an Amazon page on which her two books are listed, but I found no biographical information on her.

The Visser isn’t a common form for the sonnet and I had written this one so long ago, I had to think for a bit to recall its unique format. The Visser Sonnet sets itself apart by its internal rhyme structure. (It’s organized with an internal rhyme scheme of abbaabba cdecde.) That particular format isn’t readily apparent unless you take time to read the poem aloud. It’s a challenging format … which is probably why I’ve only completed one Visser Sonnet.

Like-A-Red-Red-Rose, valentine, roses, perfume, Visser sonnet, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Like A Red, Red Rose

 

This Thing Called Love

Nicolas Poussin-852386There are many stories from mythology that fascinate me. Ovid’s tale of Echo and Narcissus is one. (And part of my fascination with such tales is due in part to the intricate historic images that have been painted to portray the stories.)

This tale captures my imagination! There’s unrequited love, there’s an overbearing (though beautiful) woman (nymph actually) always getting the last word in, there’s the handsome young man who spurns a maid’s bold overture of love. And there’s cruelty, the cruelty of Nemesis agreeing Narcissus should be entrapped in his own foolishness, as well as the cruelty that results when Narcissus experiences the disappointment of unrequited love (because he has “fallen in love” with his own image in a pool).

This-Thing-Called-Love, love, Narcissus, Echo, tragedy, mythology, star-crossed, Romeo and Juliet, poetry, poem
Poem: This Thing Called Love

The dictionary defines narcissism as “inordinate fascination with oneself, excessive self-love, vanity …” Know anyone who fits that description? I think it kind of describes today’s culture.

For Narcissus though, there was at least one redeeming element:  when he died (and disappeared), the nymphs had hoped to bury him, but his body couldn’t be found. Where he’d lain, they found a flower, purple within, and surrounded with white petals. Today, this flower (now apparently in colors other than white) bears the name and preserves the memory of Narcissus. It’s a medicinal flower (see the root narc in it?) and is considered by some to be a “flower of death.” Beautiful … but deadly.

Vivid-Handmade-Narcissus-Flower-Gel-Pen-Ball-Point-Pen-Giveaways-Promotional-Products-100-pc-a-lot

 

 

Always Look Up

The grandchildren have gone home. We grandparents are sufficiently fatigued to the point of inactivity. (A fair accounting should reflect that my Beloved, with the help of our hard working son-in-law, dug two deep holes today and planted a couple sugar maples in the front yard. So whatever fatigue he’s feeling wasn’t only a by-product of enthusiastic grandchildren! But my, how they adore him and seek to be at his side wherever he is!)

I offer another post with poetry. If memory serves, this poem is the first (possibly second) sonnet I wrote many years ago. I think it still stands up to scrutiny. As someone with a love for all of God’s world, the night sky offers endless fascination and discovery!

Stellar-Showcase, circus, p.t. barnum, stars, corn fields, greatest show on earth, clowns, acrobats, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Stellar Showcase

As a child growing up in the midwest, this poem grew out of my recollections about circuses and the corn fields where they occasionally set up their tents. Those corn fields offered unique smells and sounds for someone like me, raised as a city girl.

We moved to the suburbs when I was twelve and right next to our house at the end of the development stood a huge corn field. In the summer, stalks grew high and we explored them as children are wont to do. In the winter, the stalks were mowed (mostly) but presented the challenge for a different experience. Just slogging through the mowed field turned into a game. Who could get the farthest the fastest?

The fields were also an ideal hiding place for rabbits and other small animals. At least once, I accompanied my older brother and his friends on a hunting “expedition” around the corn field. Why they invited me to come, I’ll never know! The boys brought clubs and I followed along, freezing (though heavily bundled against the elements), uncomfortable navigating over uneven muddy soil, and ambivalent about witnessing this age-old rite of passage. I think I wandered home after their third kill, not especially impressed by the blood trailing down a rabbit’s now-lifeless snout.

As young marrieds, my Beloved and I lived in Iowa (corn country for sure!) for about 30 months. Again, I recall the beauty of an expansive green cornfield stirred gracefully by a gentle wind. It’s peaceful, like waves on a calm sea. But following harvest time, the wind crackles through the stalks, disturbing them, cutting through with vengeance, just as the mowers will eventually do when plowing under what’s left after harvest.

There’s so much in this world that we miss because we’re too busy seeing through it, overlooking majesty and beauty in our quest for lesser things.

Of course the best show takes place in the skies above, when we take time to plunk down our back sides onto soggy ground and simply turn our eyes Heaven-ward.

Doing Battle . . . And Winning!

My adventures-in-gardening experiences are now on record here, and here. This year, I was amazed at my eagerness to get out and work the garden bed! No, the weeds weren’t gone, not by a long shot, but I have identified a straightforward plan to address this nemesis!

I haven’t yet won, but I’ve taken the right path. The same bed shown in my last post — choked by a mass of grass and weeds  — now looks like this. ——->

We have tomatoes in back, squash and zucchini on the left, peppers (banana and green) just in front of the tomatoes, and three rows of green beans.

The plants look beautiful, but transforming this plot of weeds into a clean, productive bed is what excites me the most … mainly because I didn’t have to continue toiling for days on end to eradicate all the weeds.

A couple years ago, I heard about “lasagna gardening.” This non-traditional method seemed strange. (The Skeptic:  if it worked, wouldn’t everyone use this method?) I was hesitant to adopt an untested technique. Continue reading “Doing Battle . . . And Winning!”

Weeds Crouching At My Door

The bane of horticultural endeavor was the subject of my previous post. Would anyone dispute weeds are tenacious, sometimes nigh intractable?

Certainly, extricating weeds at their roots is the most highly-effective practice. But take a look at this picture on the left; ask yourself (as I did) how much time might be required to extract each and every remnant of each and every blade of grass and each and every embedded, omnidirectional root.

Knowing the back-breaking effort and number of hours I’d spent in previous summers before eventually reaching the halfway point, I dreaded continuing and longed for an alternative solution. I convinced myself there had to be a better (read:  quicker) method for permanent eradication. An online search failed to provide satisfactory guidance, so I opted for the nearby garden center. Continue reading “Weeds Crouching At My Door”

The Villainy of Weeds

My garden remains — queue the writing metaphor — a work in progress. My last post pictured a part of my 35′ x 7′ raised bed. Full disclosure, here’s a view of the garden I neglected to include. Where veggies once grew in the space, all that green (to the left of the owl) is a persistent tangle of unwelcome, unwanted grasses. (In my garden bed, grass is always considered a weed.)

In the summer of 2010, I had worked painstakingly to eradicate weeds and grasses from the strawberry bed growing to the right. In my initial efforts, I’d grab a handful of green blades and yank from the ground all the offenders I could extract. Occasionally, a ball of dirt with roots came loose, but mostly the green shoots broke away from their underground source. Within days, new shoots eventually raised their green spires heavenward. Continue reading “The Villainy of Weeds”