Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ready, Set, Composted Cow Manure!


Sure I love that time of the year when the daffodils come up and bloom, when the first green leaves are unfurling from tree branches, and the tiny snow drops nod their heads to some secret garden agreement. I love it when the leaves turn color in the fall and there air is crisp one minute and redolent with wood smoke the next.

But nothing beats this time of year -- that point when spring is just starting to hit summer. In my yard, the echinacea is setting out leaves and the oniony allium heads have formed on their sturdy stalks, and about five other plants that I set out last year (and now have completely forgotten the names of) are crowding out the weeds. Foxglove has reseeded in strange corners of the garden and sedum volunteers have sprung up exactly where I would have put them myself -- and now don't have to. And beyond all these garden discoveries is the even better part -- the plotting and scheming for another upcoming garden.

The strategizing starts in the early morning: I head out back with my coffee, barely awake, and stare at the back garden. I'm plotting out that new bed over there in my head. And I stare, and stare some more. My husband used to think I was developing some kind of catatonia, until I explained my garden meditation thing to him. It might look like I am doing nothing, but actually I'm considering which of those rose bushes to transplant and nixing growing peppers in the herb garden this year. After a few days of this, I'll make lists of the stuff I need to pick up at the nursery, so on the weekend I can spend HOURS at the nursery looking at plants and changing my mind. Even if I only weed this year and plant a few basil seedlings in pots, I will still have enjoyed hours of imaginary tactical garden maneuvers and garden center window-shopping. For me, gardening is 75% mental calculations and 25% actually manual labor.

Some people had imaginary friends, I have an imaginary forsythia hedge...that runs along picturesque brook...beside the bank of lupines....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lo, Thru The Valley Of Confused Self-Image We Go


Lately, my son has been going through that special brand of preteen jitters called "Whose Body Is This?" In a single day, he might tell me that he is:

too tall
too fat
too freckled
too, um, too something

Boy, do I completely understand.

Most days, I can't quite figure out my own packaging. This only seems to get worse as time goes on. (Thank you, menopause.) I'm starting to wonder, though, if we are really ever meant to feel completely comfortable in our bodies. Theoretically, they are only vessels for the really good stuff -- soul, character, intention. I mean, Buddha doesn't look like he was sweating his waistline.

Still, this isn't much help to the Tweenish One. Enlightenment concepts only go so far when you are 12 and have a pimple on your nose.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Age Vampires Meet My Investment Banker

Like just about everyone with a twinset of X chromosomes, I've read a lot of vampire books this year. When I wasn't buried in Charlaine Harris' excellent series of Louisiana vampire books featuring the indomitable Sookie Stackhouse, my bodice was getting a workout by the Twilight books. In both bodies of work, there are the undead with their own beautiful bodies, walking among us -- going to highschool, running bars, worrying over their 401Ks, and draining a hitchhiker or two dry in between. And we (the definitely dead-able) can't get enough of it. Surreally powerful beings deigning to tempt us is an intoxicating thing.

What is this obsession with vampires? And why do we get such a kick out of imagining rubbing elbows -- and other body parts -- with them? That's what I keep wondering.

Being a former philosophy major and armchair anthropologist, I figure there has to be some parallels with our current culture that is expressing itself as, well, bloodsuckers. And if there is a single theme running through the past decade (greed), expressed through our economic woes (suck everyone else dry), and the reaction of our financial institutions (unconscionable lack of humanity), it makes you start to wonder just how silly all this vampire mania really is. Sookie Stackhouse might not be Faust and Bella Cullen doesn't make a convincing Gulliver, but all these stories say the same thing: If you lie down with your own devils, you had better be prepared to get up and pay a dear price.