I’m starting to have the fantasy again. It’s a yearly thing, and probably should be filed under delusion, not fantasy, but I would hate to admit out loud that I’m delusional. (Get your mind out of the gutter, will you??! LOL)
It’s about the garden.
It’s a fantasy that will be dashed upon the rocks in oh, about 100 days, when summer settles in on a mid-May afternoon, and the temperature is about 103 and the humidity is hovering around there as well. The plants will be fading, I will be dripping, and the bubble of my dreams will pop in a shower of humid perspiration (sorry Grandma, but it’ll be WAY beyond ‘feeling the heat.’)
But today? Today, anything is possible!!! It’s 70 degrees, and I’ve been raking out the garden bed, examining my little plants, impressed that a few have managed to hang on despite the weather, the bad soil and my abject neglect since last summer when I gave it up for lost. Again.
Somewhat depressing that I have a harder time in Virginia than in New York City getting things to grow!
What more can be said? I wrote an essay, a LONG time back. It sums up my feelings almost exactly, so I will post it below.
The mailman has just departed. He brought me my Christmas bills, yes (thanks, Billy?) but at the bottom of the pile, I spy a gardening catalogue! The official harbinger of spring, long before Chuck looks for his shadow-possibly more exciting than the first catalog to promise delivery in time fro Christmas!
Right now, I live in an apartment. I have two sloping patches that are covered in blue stone-my garden. I tried to tell it so last year, but alas, it was like talking to a rock!
I have a tenacious foothold at the top of the slopes near the walls, but only because rainwater washes rocks away. (Of course, the significance WAS lost on me-plant and seeds get washed away as well)
But why is looking through this catalogue so gratifying? Eighty-three pages-no photos to distract me-just pages of illustrations and descriptions that can make me giddy. I don’t even care for squash, yet I feel compelled to read each of fourteen entries, to discover which would be the most appropriate, to be aware of the idiosyncrasies of each genus.
I check off enough seeds to feed a small Island community, and decorate it as well, pages of everlastings, edibles, bouquets, fragrant blossoms to put my vegetable choices to shame!
I really hate to get dirt under my almost manicured nails, kneeling on rocky soil and wiping my face with the back of my hand, only to discover when I go into take a shower that I spoke to five neighbors with dirt under my eyes like a quarterback -one of them a cute guy no less!! But oh, the shower!
In my mind’s eye is my grandfather’s New Brighton yard. Looking out my bedroom window early on a weekend or after work on a weeknight, I can see Daddy Gus playing in his garden. The yard was a 1/3 acre, half of which was destined to be covered in ivy.
He was a big man, a suit and tie man. There he would be, on his knees, in a polo and old shoes. He got industrious and had decided to reclaim the yard for his garden. He had two long neat rows of strawberries, followed by two long neat rows of raspberries, and the rest-TOMATOES! (Is this a grandfather thing?)
Of course, by the time the house was sold, only the raspberries remained, victorious, with their long tangles branches spread out and everywhere. (Including across the street at the Nutt’s house, when Steve asked for some plants, and with Eithne, in her yard) There were so many raspberries that after a week, fresh on cereal and dessert, and pints of jam, we were only too glad to share them with the birds. Now, even the raspberries have been defeated; they gave way to a new patio and a dog walk. The owners do not know what they have lost.
Daffodils, and impatiens and tulips, roses and marigolds, geraniums ad infinitum, spread through the other three garden areas, in the front lawn and onto the flower boxes on the porch.
Grandma wanted nothing to do with this pastime-it was his and he was thoughtful enough to bring his muddy pants to the tailor.
His winter garden was his painting room-he stayed up nights painting flowers; the scent of those oil paints as old and as comforting to me as any. His garden was as mine is-the garden of dreams.
Each year I decide to admit defeat with my patch, and plant it with some wildflower used to growing from concrete. But then I see tulip leaves trying to find spring in my winter ‘yard’ and again I have the fever!
Quickly, to the catalogue! There is hope. However, flowers that thrived in concrete is not a category-those that decorate our roadsides, Queen Anne’s lace, day lilies, chicory, mallow, my personal favorite, violets. I haven’t the time, the money, or really the inclination to move all of those stones. So, I’ll work with and around them, and build a great big pile of full color gardening catalogs by the side of the couch to while away the blizzard we are sure to have in April.
Copyright, TRISH CASEY-GREEN. 1991
Well, the laugh is on me. Here in Virginia, we seem to measure snow by the amount of time it lasts on the ground. So far, it has snowed for 2 hours this year-longer by FAR than the last three years combined! Winter lasts for a short time. It WAS 13 degrees a few weeks back, but it doesn’t last. I saw forsythia blooming on branches back in November. My daffodils are pushing through the rock bed by the house, and the woodpecker has returned from wherever it is that he goes when he’s not here torturing me every morning, tapping on my bedroom walls.
And yet, my fantasy remains.