Our community garden.

May 21, 2015 § 7 Comments

Seminole Manor Neighborhood garden.Our community garden was Kary’s dream.

Luckily, Kary is a practical dreamer.

She hoop-jumped until the City of Tallahassee gave us the use of a chunk of land at the elbow-bend where Roberts becomes Jackson Bluff, a curve so tight school buses take down the traffic arrows along with the occasional decorative crepe myrtle.

Before neighbors began hammering together the raised beds and planting, the plot was the weedy cut-through for people headed to the nearby convenience store for Swisher Sweets, lottery tickets and Little Debbies.

Although we put up a short fence when bike tracks crisscrossed a hill of watermelons, the right to cut-through remains unchallenged.

We hope that, as they cut between the beds, walkers enjoy the green and consider becoming part of the community of community gardeners.

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This summer.

August 24, 2014 § 14 Comments

Milkweed seed.Summer 2014 has not yet acknowledged it, but we have.

This summer is over.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t putting up a fight.

Here in North Florida we have hit that annual patch of days when the temperature tops 100 without the feels-like fudge factor of the heat index.

Walk across the parking lot at WalMart to pick up three ring binders and pens and the solar wind rising off the asphalt will lift your skirt and take your breath away.

But school’s been on for a week now. An informal survey of the kids in the neighborhood about week-one ranges from, “Second grade is awe-some!” to a wistful shrug. Nothing, in the course of human events signals the end of summer like back-to school.

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September 27, 2012 § 6 Comments

In one of my earliest memories, I see a crowd of hostas beside a squat brick stoop in Pearl River, New York.

Sunlight streams through their variegated green and white leaves, making them glow as if from within.

Awed by their vivid aliveness, I do the only thing I can think of.

I tear off a leaf and eat it.

I still remember thinking, this is what green tastes like.

Although I no longer taste green so literally, green is what I turn to when my life force feels dim.

My mother and I had a long-standing debate about God’s finest work. She contended it was us, human beings. My vote always went to the trees. To me they possessed a deeper wisdom, a steadfastness, that made us seem shoddy by comparison; the paper cup of creation.

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Walking the circle.

June 1, 2012 § 2 Comments

The European tradition of storytelling is linear—the main character starts somewhere and ends up somewhere completely different. This story-form views life as a tale of change and progress.

Native American stories walk the well-worn path of seasons and cycles that repeat.

I may tell linear stories, but in real life I prefer the native American story-form. Life walks a circle and I like it that way.

Take vegetable gardens. They happen every year—twice for the dedicated gardener, winter and summer.

I am now at the hopeful beginning of the summer garden season, a season that has risen again and again over the horizon of the year for me, and for my father, putting in Jersey tomatoes in Princeton Junction, and for my grandfather, thumbing pea seeds into the ground in Congers, New York.

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My own back yard.

April 14, 2011 § 18 Comments

Peppers in the summer garden, 2010.

I wonder each week as I sit down to write a post for this blog, have I emptied the cupboard?

Is everything I know and feel already out there in black and white?

But week after week, like Dorothy Gale, I discover that to find what I’m searching for I need look no further than my own backyard.

When given more than a passing glance, the things I take for granted turn out to be the substance of my life, and far more nourishing than the wishful dreams my brain invents.

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Suddenly Spring.

March 2, 2011 § 15 Comments

Winter comes on slowly in Tallahassee.  No splashy show of leaf-turn here.

With few exceptions, like the flaming reds of the Bradford Pears (natives of China and Korea), and the bright yellows of our native dogwoods, leaves become mottled, like the backs of an old man’s hands, and then fall.  This quiet dimming of the colors makes our winter more like a prolonged Autumn.

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Cheating the season.

September 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

It’s been the hottest summer I can remember.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash—one by one the plants went down. Except for the peppers, by early August our summer garden had succumbed to the heat. 

It’s mid-September now.  Mornings are almost cool.  It’s time to put in the winter garden.  But as a gardener, I have two traits in common with gamblers, I hope against reason, and I believe in luck, so a couple of weeks ago I spread my hand of seed packets on the table and pulled out the summer squash varieties that had the shortest time from germination to harvest, those promising squash in 5O days or less.

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