Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Putterer Sputters and the Garden Grows Wild

I've selected this tender photograph to head up the post because I'm afraid to even enter the garden today, let alone take any pictures. I know it will be a wild place given over to spiders and their webs, mosquitoes and their stings, and rampant weeds and their climbing vines. This has been a rough summer for the kind of gardener, who hopes to keep nature tidy. But for nature, it has been a rambunctious and wild ride.

The image was taken a few weeks ago, when I was home from work recovering from surgery. Patsy was babysitting the neighbors' children and we took her charges to Brookside Garden to see its most excellent butterfly exhibit, "Wings of Fancy." The monarch alighted on little Maya's hand and her brother Johannes reached out to share in the experience. It was enough sentiment to make you want to weep. And Patsy, the photographer, caught the decisive moment.

Meanwhile, as the Putterer sputtered, the garden was left to its own devices. I clipped around the edges and Jim helped with some of the heavy, heavy stuff. But the mosquitoes took over, and though the spiders tried mightily to eat them all, they constructed their webs across all my paths. Then the sun beat down in one of the worst heat waves ever and the hydrangea that I transplanted from sunny spot to shady side last spring still took a hit as the soil cemented itself around its weary roots. The single squash plant took over the vegetable bed, it's prickly stems grew wickedly sharp. The cukes tried to fruit even as the deer nibbled its leaves to a quick. The eggplant delivered, but then toppled. The peppers gave up. The tomatoes did fine, but the squirrels and the raccoons stole the fruit. And then the rains came. A deluge, that bent the flowers over and dropped dried branches from the trees. I've seen evidence that locusts are on their way.

Today, strong and recovered, the Putterer will don long pants and sleeves, pepper herself with DEET, sharpen her clippers, and after asking Mother Earth's permission, she will advance into the wild place and make tidy the garden. The Putterer

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