Thursday, October 20, 2011
standing in monday's warm sun, a good stiff breeze ruffling the oaks and poplars—the only trees with leaves still displaying a resoluteness and fixedly holding tight to the branches—i overheard a steady pop! pop! going on in the greenery.
the first time i heard that odd sound was years and years ago when my garden was new and i was new to gardening. gardening—that wonderful mucking about in pungent soil and tangles of weeds and fall's dead leaves, that exploration of the hidden worlds of smooth roots and bumpy rhizomes and chubby worms alive under the ground—and a love for the outdoors are in my genes. i am descended from generations of men and women who worked on the land, their own (in recent history) or belonging to the neighborhood duke or lord or whatever other landed gentry, and made their livelihoods from crops and cattle and horses and sheep (lots of sheep) .
when i garden my hands become dirty and sandpaper rough (you don't want to touch my sea urchin-like palm and fingers—i should wear gloves but i rarely do because i need to feel the good earth), my nails split (no glamorous nail polish for me) and crusty with black soil like one of those old farmers but not really, since my garden patch is smallish and unmechanized and suburban. there is no rise-up-at-dawn to milk the cows here; there is only me. my husband does not garden. he is without a green thumb but he helps me with heavy hauling and cutting—any yard work requiring a chainsaw and bigger muscles than i have.
and the pops? those were phlox seedpods—small, oval, ripe, ready—the ones which have gone from green to brown—wantonly bursting again and again in the afternoon sunshine (always in the sun's heat, never on a cloudy day) providing food for birds, mice, moles and voles and sending forth an unwavering new generation.