“The first time I done it was a disaster. They all blowed off”
Tow truck driver who decorates his truck for Xmas, including lights and a tree
“Play it cool and Saranwrap all you can”
Scot Walker, “30th Century Man”
Riddles, wrapped in enigmas, and baked in a pie? The above quotes would seem, at first, to have no coherent theme, and certainly no garden theme. But wait, there’s more. I am experiencing a certain postmodern existential disconnect as winter closes in. My theory is that the gardener – separated from the garden by the weather – experiences subliminal withdrawal almost like an addict in rehab. Well, maybe not that serious, but I’m in a Saranwrap mood – wanting to preserve things I cultivated in order to maintain my connection to nature. I done tried, but my coleus has clear signs of frost damage, and official Winter doesn’t start until the day after tomorrow.
Stealing a brief hour from 2 to 3 pm last Sunday, I planted some sweet peas Ellen gave me, and I found some surprises. My dill was gone, eaten up from the bottom, neatly excavated by whoever lives beneath the freshly turned mound beneath the white rose in the fenced vegetable garden. It was there days ago – the death of the dill, Saran wrap would have saved it! We have the frickin’ technology! Neither the fence, nor the broadcasting of freshly chopped chrysanthemum foliage deterred the invader. My cabbage and broccoli starts in the backyard are still standing, but for how long?
Meanwhile, back at the Veggie Garden, critters have eaten about $60 worth of seed and about $40 worth of starts. Something big made a hole in the netting and feasted on delicate lettuce. Not to mention person-hours of blood, sweat and tears. We planted the last lettuce, beets and cabbage in the Veggie Garden last week. Today, the left raised bed had been murdered, blitzkrieged to tiny skeletal stems, remainders of the first hopeful sprouts.
How did we forget the other creatures? How did we see ourselves so apart from the world, so privileged above all species, so promised the land? It’s difficult for me to take in the murdered dill at home, the martyred lettuce at the Veggie Garden, and not feel like the tow truck driver, the first time he decorated his truck. By these standards, my gardens are a disaster.
But, the tow truck driver apparently figured out how to decorate and light a tree in such a way that his decorations wouldn’t get all blowed off. So, that’s one happy ending. From him, I must learn to accept the signs of winter telling me to depart from the back yard. Once more, I must learn to share “my” territory with nature and the other occupants. I must let the sprouts and starts of winter vegetables take their chances, even if a there is a great risk they will be harvested by night visitors the minute they stick their sprouting heads above their foxholes of mulch.
All that was forgotten Sunday afternoon: holding the pungent earth in my hands, planting the sweet peas, rinsing my dusty feet as I watered, tossing compost. I could feel the pull of the sun from farther toward the south in its effort to bring summer to drought-plagued Australia. Our fire seasons are over because of several recent rains promising some relief in winter. My garden may not be buried in snow like Kate in Saskatchewan, but its inhabitants know winter is now, and so do I. Let nature take its course while I stay indoors, stockpiling seed catalogs and imagining a perfectly decorated tow truck, defiantly, cheerfully pulling cars out of snow banks.