I was out in the garden today “putting it to bed “ for the winter. It’s good work on a chilly autumn day. I looked up at the sky and the colorful leaves and said to myself “this day deserves a poem- just do it” so I dashed off to the house in search of a notebook and pen. Sometimes you just have to pause, be amazed, and write about it!
Putting the Garden to Bed
Under an intense blue sky
My garden disappears
with each whack of the machete
As I work I discover monstrous cucumbers
Submerged in dying vines like green submarines
And overlooked onions hiding below the straw
The parsnips pull out of the ground reluctantly as always
Sadly too mature to be good eating
As my armloads of spent foliage build up the compost pile
I sigh with memories of sweet tomatoes
And savory salads
I leave the dried heads of the sunflowers standing
It is the height of summer blooms. Bumblebees are to be found everywhere about my yard. I find them in the cool of the morning sleeping in flowers, drunk from the previous day’s feeding. As the day warms I pause to watch them at their work, mindfully probing into pistils within blooms sucking out nectar.
They are especially fond of compound flowers, those in the genus, Compositae, the daisy family, the largest example being a sunflower. These are flowers within flowers. Look closely in the middle of a dahlia, zinnia, daisy, dandelion sunflower, etc. and you will find multitudes of tiny flowerets surrounded by showy petals. It’s like one-stop shopping for bees.
Bumblebees make up the genus Bombus with 255 different species. Generally, they are black with varying stripes of yellow and sometime red. They make nests near the ground under logs, duff in small colonies. They are honey producers but in smaller quantities.
Though bumblebees don’t get as much press as their smaller cousin, the honey bee, they are extremely important pollinators. Bumblebees are particularly good at it. Their wings beat 130 times or more per second, and the beating combined with their large bodies
vibrate flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. Buzz pollination helps plants produce more fruit. Bumblebees flap their wings back and forth rather than up and down like other bees. Researcher Michael Dickinson, a professor of biology and insect flight expert at the University of Washington likens wing sweeping like a partial spin of a “somewhat crappy” helicopter propeller,
They are gentle bees, single-minded in their work and rarely sting which is good because their sting can be particularly nasty. I have never been stung even though I sometimes gently pet their fuzzy backs then they are immersed in feeding. Such sweet bees.
In Praise of Bumblebees
They probe dreamily in the center
Of pie sized yellow flowers that nod towards the east
Keeping me company
As I work in the garden
These tiny winged beasts do their work
Heads up down, up down
Placing in precision their needle-like proboscises
It’s the growing season and my garden is being planted in stages. I marvel at the magic of seeds- how something so small can germinate to become a huge sunflower or a plant that offers juicy red tomatoes.
With the exceptions of weeds, seeds cannot manage successfully on their own in a garden. The soil must be tilled and enriched. Then once the seeds have been planted they must be nurtured with proper watering and attention lest they be eaten by some pest or choked by weeds. It’s work to bring seeds to their full potential of flower or food.
Ideas are so much like seeds. The soil of the mind must be fallow and fertile. To have a fallow mind, one must be open and ready to receive the seeds of ideas. Fertile means paying attention and being open. Ideas often come when the mind is relaxed like when you’re taking a shower, on a walk or doing something innocuous like washing the dishes. Having a head is full of earbuds and social media is not conducive to collecting seeds the muse has to offer.
When they come, catch them by writing or sketching them in a notebook less they blow away into someone else’s “garden”. Then give them the attention they need to germinate.
Like seeds, not all ideas will manifest. Some are not viable. Then others are past their shelf life. Don’t be afraid to throw them out and get new ones.
I’ve had ideas like these artichoke plants that surprised me and grew into something much more than I expected. I started these plants last year from tiny seeds and now they are 6-foot record-setting monsters!
You don’t have to plant a garden. Just get a pot with healthy soil, some seeds, water them, and enjoy the magic of germination.
Recently I met for coffee with a friend that needed help starting a blog on WordPress. After building the “infrastructure” of the site we talked about content and posting.
This got me to thinking about the intent of my blog and how I go about finding ideas for my posts. Originally I was motivated my blog was to promote my artwork but blogs tend to evolve on their own (see I Was Supposed to be Blogging about My Artwork). After 2 1/2 years of blogging my posts range anywhere from the creative process to what is going on in my personal life.
When I was a young woman embarking on my life’s journeys I wrote pages of heartfelt letters to friends miles away (see Letters to the Universe). That process gave me so much perspective on my life and the world at large. Letter writing in our busy digital age seems to have become a tradition of the past. I miss them. Unconsciously, I think my blog has become a series of letters written to the universe. I have no idea who might read my posts. The important thing is that I write them and send them off. It makes me pay attention to my life- a sort of a writing meditation. I’ve been a bit inconsistent as of late. We’ve had some health challenges in our house making blogging more difficult to fit in. Life happens. You do what you can do. Continue reading “A Conversation with the Universe”→
Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.
James Cash Penney
Last year during the local Terroir Creative Writing Festival I found that there were four of us in our rural proximity that shared a love of writing and poetry. We are all novices on a path to discovery. Why not get together now and again?
Last October we did just that. The first meeting took place on a Sunday afternoon at Patricia’s lovely greenhouse. We sat at a table nibbling a delicious homemade coffee cake and sipping tea while a tangle of tomatoes and other vegetables seemingly were our audience. Then we rotated to Linda’s, my farmhouse and next month it is Deb’s turn.
A sort of agenda has emerged. The person hosting leads off with something they’ve read that they would like to share and then some of their personal writing. I am working on a memoir piece. The last two meetings I have read parts of it. We discuss and offer feedback on pieces if requested and then take turns. We all adore Mary Oliver. At her recent passing, there has been much to share.
At our last meeting, we suggested all purchasing Oliver’s book “A Poetry Handbook” as a resource that we all have in common. For writing challenge we have suggested finding a poem we like, using it as a “pattern” and then writing a new poem with our own words to share. With all of our so-called assignments we put in the qualifier “or not.” There is no pressure here, just pleasure.
Since I have a penchant for naming things, the name “The Nuthatch Society” came into my mind for our group. The four of us live on rural property and we are quite familiar with these quirky little birds that frequent the foliage and feeders about our homes. They are busy creatures, quite chatty, cute, but fierce and have the ability to walk upside down on trees. The name seemed to fit with us.
There is value in online community but it cannot compare with four souls coming together to share a common interest over tea. I’m so looking forward to the next meeting of the Nuthatch Society and sharing my writing and all the fascinating things I’ve read this month as well as what my fellow Nuthatches have been up to in their busy lives. Community is a powerful thing- no matter how small.