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Wed Nov 14, 2018, 04:21 PM

Winter Garden

Last edited Wed Nov 14, 2018, 08:35 PM - Edit history (1)

"Doctor Allenby: This won't hurt a bit.
[Sticks Chance with a needle]
Chance the Gardener: It did hurt."

OUR winter garden is emerging. The dogwoods have already lost their amber leaves to a couple of frosts, but the Japanese maples are still showing scarlet in the setting sun.

It was a successful summer. There were devastating renovations which included my first forays into no-dig gardening with the debut of two compost mounds placed defiantly on the flattened slope of my front yard and planted with new additions of tickseed, painted fern, hechura, and false sunflowers.

We shepherded the few Asian lilies - which had escaped the night-foraging of our neighborhood deer - to successful blooms (resolved to finally order them in bulk this fall so we don't need top protect the handful we have like they're gold).

It all was a spectacular success, though, making the end a bit more tolerable. It doesn't hurt to have the 'skyracer' oak-leaf hydrangea in the front yard with the sun-facing side gleaming apple-red, and the other side turning a deep burgundy now that most of the canopy has fallen and is littering the ground from the yard to the street.

All of the action is moving underground after the long campaign, gathering sustenance and generating energy. Most of the winter activity is occurring in the grassroots, growing and expanding their base, auguring an early Spring.

Of course, I'm being facetious and a little coy here. Politics is like a garden, right? It's been done, well done - some of the more poignant analogies made in a flick about a gardener, turned dying president's private confidant named 'Chauncey' (Peter Sellers), who was mistaken for a wise counsel because of his government-analogous remarks about tending his garden.

"President "Bobby": Mr. Gardner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?
[Long pause]
Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.
President "Bobby": In the garden.
Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
President "Bobby": Spring and summer.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
President "Bobby": Then fall and winter.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.

Ah yes, winter... (pushing ahead, ignoring the sudden urge to go find Shirley MacClain's 'Being There' and sneak in another movie night).

The deer have arrived. They're welcome back, mostly. I chased a couple doe and kids away early in the season after I saw them eating my oak-leaf hydrangea transplants in the backyard to the ground. I armed myself with deer-repellent spray and all is now forgiven again.

It looks like last year's bunch, but I know these young deer are new to the yard - maybe visited here in their relative youth. I'm chill. There's really not much harm they're likely to do to the garden in winter (with huge, notable exceptions), and they're a familiar presence this time of year, twice visiting through Thanksgiving like errant relatives come to visit.

I try and interact and live compatibly with nature and its creatures; great and small. I want to help preserve and create, if possible, as much species habitat as I'm able. Heaven knows how much road and housing development has eliminated and reduced that habitat over the decades. The least we can do it to try and maintain as much as we can; helping to preserve the woodland's denizens as we work to preserve their macro and micro environments.

Once you've created your plant filled environment, however, you are bound to their success or demise. There's no questioning the beneficial effect of careful tending and nurturing of a yard full of plants. The wildlife which adopts the environment you've created becomes dependent on your beneficence -- as do the succeeding generations of fauna which are conceived and delivered into your garden home. Bees and other insects find spots nearby to winter over. Hummingbirds and other fowl will make your garden a regular stop on their essential feeding tours. And, yes, for some hapless gardeners, deer and rabbits make their garden paradises their own personal feeding stations and devastatingly devour the bounty to the ground.

There are consequences to the decision to establish a garden. Once adopted by our living counterparts, the future condition of that garden becomes almost essential. More water and food means more growth, so, you're then obliged to continue to nurture that growth at the risk of withdrawing that support and abandoning your sprouts to the ravages of the elements.

That's a bit like the way I view our community at Democratic Underground. We gather here, either deliberately compelled or bidden, and become reliant on the nourishment from the wellspring of activism, action, and advocacy that's been established here. That's what we establish gardens for; to sustain and enhance life on this planet, and that's what I suppose this place is for.

New voters provide new opportunities, new legislators, for our party to grow and succeed. I daresay we can find space and resource to accommodate most of them all; even as we cringe at the prospect of our prize 'buds and offshoots' serving as nourishment for other life before we can realize their bloom; none are more important than the other in this ecosystem; none are less vital than the other in our own survival.

So, winter has come to my suburban, wooded garden, bringing with it an abundance of sunlight and nourishing rain to sustain the burgeoning abundance of life which both sustains us and challenges for us to grow and prosper from the resources available.

Are we actually caretakers in this menagerie, or, are we merely antagonists bent on shuffling and scrambling nature about for our own edification? In mostly all of the natural world, we find most species adapted to an almost routine pattern of survival which advantages itself of every other instinct and expression of the environment - taking a bit of nature for themselves, here and there; giving another bit back, in return.

Does that nature manifest itself in the fox who found refuge for the majority of the day last winter (and warmth) on top of the pile of composting leaves at the back of my yard?

Or is that nature the providence of the family of rabbits who live (and, presumably, are killed) in the burrows under the bank of day lilies facing our driveway - the rabbit family that was the subject of the fox's intense hunt that I witnessed one night from an upstairs window; the garden predator weaving back and forth through the dense growth of foliage to find his innocent quarry?

Are the deer who also time-shared the same cramped but accommodating space of refuge during the winter days - who now migrate through the yard in the summer and forage on every bit of nutritious foliage and flower they can find - friends or ultimate enemies of this arranged habitat?

Is the hawk less welcome atop the heights of the dead pine in back than the chipmunks who perform their death-defying feats of seeming mischief and frivolity with little visible worry or fear of the threat from above?

Poet, John Ashbery ('Some Trees'), describes the accommodating mix of menagerie and flora as an arrangement of chance and opportunity:

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though
Speech were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I (and others)
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Some comeliness,
we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles . . .
Place in a puzzling light,
and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents
seem their own defense __

It is hard, but, not impossible, to imagine that all of this magnificence around us would occur without some hand in singling out new sprouts and nurturing, protecting, refereeing among their neighbors, and helping them take full advantage of the light, water, and nourishment that nature obligingly provides.

Caretaking and nurturing them is as intimate as we humans can be with these miracles of nature, unable as we are to just root ourselves in the dirt and prosper like they do; plant our own feet that firmly in the ground and we would surely rot away with time.

10 replies, 1322 views

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Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply Winter Garden (Original post)
bigtree Nov 2018 OP
LineNew Reply .
bigtree Nov 2018 #1
Roland99 Nov 2018 #2
bigtree Nov 2018 #3
Roland99 Nov 2018 #4
LineNew Reply .
bigtree Nov 2018 #5
kydo Nov 2018 #6
Zing Zing Zingbah Nov 2018 #7
bigtree Nov 2018 #8
peekaloo Nov 2018 #9
BumRushDaShow Nov 2018 #10

Response to bigtree (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2018, 08:36 PM

1. .

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2018, 08:52 PM

2. Not what I was expecting.

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Response to Roland99 (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 14, 2018, 09:07 PM

3. expecting the unexpected


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Response to bigtree (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 14, 2018, 09:07 PM

4. lol

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Thu Nov 15, 2018, 09:35 AM

5. .

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Thu Nov 15, 2018, 09:44 AM

6. The Trees

The Trees

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
And they're quite convinced they're right
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light

But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade?

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream 'oppression!'
And the oaks, just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
'The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light'

Now there's no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet,
And saw

Songwriters: Geddy Lee / Alex Lifeson / Neil Peart
The Trees lyrics Ole Media Management Lp

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Thu Nov 15, 2018, 09:49 AM

7. Speaking of winter... supposed to be getting some real winter weather

up in Maine starting tonight into tomorrow... an early snow storm of 5 to 8 inches. Yesterday was windy and frigid too. We don't typically get any substantial snow in November. Suppose this means the kids will be going to school all summer because of all the damn snow days. LOL! I'm so glad I got new tires put on the car earlier this week, just in time for the snow. Yay, shoveling time. I kind of enjoy the hardship of winter in a weird way. I think it makes us better to endure it and I feel like it's needed to develop a real appreciation for the rest of the year when we have nicer weather.

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Response to Zing Zing Zingbah (Reply #7)

Thu Nov 15, 2018, 10:27 AM

8. looking at our first snow right now

...in Md.

Wet, sleety mess.

Pretty though.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Thu Nov 15, 2018, 10:31 AM

9. Kick


Chance the Gardner is another nickname I use for Hair Furor.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2018, 08:34 AM

10. K&R

Wonderful essay, imagery, and analogy!

(particularly poignant for me as a gardner!)

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