My Rainy Day Rhyme

I spy the baker, whose mixer is broke,

and Baker's washline: aprons, soaked.

I spy a cold frame with a wire cover,

and I spy Sunflower, Amaranth's lover.

Up high, I spy Simon - an alley cat, but not a fighter.

Photo by Michael Poster

And here in my salad, I spy two tiny spiders.



In my mother's garden

I had a really happy childhood, so I don't know where my steady, stormy lava flow of anger came from.

Today I drove west, to Bradford County, to buy plants for a job. I like going to Bradford County because I can drive fast, blasting the same The Fall song over and over again, and the air whirls in my window carrying honey meadow smell. It's pretty there - the Amish hang blocks of deepwater purple and blue and green on their wash lines to dry.

That's all lovely, I know, but the anger-making part is this: The oil and gas industry has taken over my birthplace with drilling rigs and armadas of trucks - tankers, thumpers... tailgaters.

Here, I'll sum it up: They are extracting natural gas by drilling and fracturing a shale formation deep within Pennsylvania's netherworld... poisoning pure water, transforming air into cancer, and generally laying waste to my heartland in the process. They've made it a policy to not drive anywhere without half their wheels on my side of the double yellow line.

It takes exactly three white pickup trucks chock-full of cowboy hats and one skyscraper-high drill rig with an American flag on top to make my eyeballs roll back in my head and the words "kill-kill-kill" snap into place where my irises were.

I could blame Texas for this mess, but that would be the easy way out. And besides, I love Texas, land where sunset melds with highway and my wanderlust sighs relief.

See, therein lies the rub. I'm so angry over an oily, greasy goldrush on gas. And I'm so weightless and peaceful when I'm burning up the open road, in my sweet little black truck.

Harley and me


What is Invasive Honeysuckle Good For?

It's good for hiding behind.

These ripe hot days of summer, a professional gardener has to keep herself hydrated. There are two things that can make me exceptionally crabby on a job site. One is dehydration. The other is nowhere to pee. Sometimes, you've got to settle for one or the other. Each is not without its brand of pain, given about twenty minutes. Driving somewhere else just to pee is time consuming. Waiting till the last possible moment to drive somewhere else just to pee is really uncomfortable, and every time I do it, I'm sure I take a month off the life of my bladder! I will be wearing diapers in no time flat!

That's why it makes me happy to have a peeing thicket. A good peeing thicket is very private, out of sight of clients, neighbors, and lawn maintenance/construction worker men. It can not be seen into from anyone's second story windows. It is in the woods, or at least far enough from outdoor living space that if the client did know you were using it as a toilet (which they don't), they would not be offended. If we're really talking the stuff of dreams, it is conveniently located near the compost area, a place I'm headed for anyway, and it contains no poison ivy or pickery things.

You'd be surprised how hard it is to find a spot like this. When I am delirious with pee rage, my ears start to burn, and I begin sputtering...

THIS is what's wrong with America! The people who sell lawnmowers are to blame! They have cultivated a sterile aesthetic, and now the sum total of this nation's greenery is no more than three inches high! I am five foot one! What became of brambles, of copses, of tangles and drifts? God damn this infernal, eternal expanse!

I ought to squat in its midst, to prove my point.

The above shot of a very tiny bunny's butt might seem altogether unrelated to my post, but I assure you, it's not. If I could simply stick my head into a place from which I could not see anyone, and therefore be hidden, life would be easier - peeing would be easier. This bunny's theory about no one being able to see him is unsound, of course, but admirable still.


August is for Picking.

Can September be for Sleeping?

 Time for dinner

Shin Kuroda carrots, tomatoes: glacier, black krim, Paul Robeson, basil, kolibri kohlrabi, pineapple (tiny) and verde puebla (large) tomatillos

Acidanthera (Gladiolus callianthus 'Muriaelae')

Acidanthera is my favorite. I plant the corms in spring when the soil has warmed, down deep where their swords will have to furrow around rocks and through soil to reach the light. Their leaves are papery and crimped, and their flower stalks are sturdy, with a row of bird-beak buds on the ends. The scent is sharp vanilla and sweet animal... Amazing! I lift them in the fall, as they won't survive my zone 5 winters.

Early am on the back porch


Kitchen Table Still Life

Clockwise from top left: seeds for fall crops, wood-fired clay head by talented sculptor Karen O'Connor, onions I accidentally weeded out, Matt's weird stagnant toad potion (I mean basil oil), and Matt's weird something-derma mushrooms.

Clay head by Karen O'Connor, now hung on the kitchen wall.


Nellie's Garden is Green and White and Gold

Euphorbia marginata, Snow-on-the-Mountain

Nellie lived in our house before us. She was 95 when she died, and she spent all of her life here, except for early childhood. She watched trees planted and felled. In her last years, she told her also elderly nephew (a sweet, sweet man, but afraid of heights) that if he wouldn't climb the pear tree to harvest the hard winter pears, she would do it herself. She washed her clothes on a washboard till the end, because the plug-in wringer washer a relative gifted her decades ago was too newfangled. She told our neighbor, thirty-something like us, that she didn't mind the parties one bit, but the nude barbecuing had to stop.

Argemone mexicana, Mexican prickly poppy, a vigorous volunteer

I never met Nellie, but I fancy that sometimes she sits with me. We rock on the back porch glider, considering our garden.

Unidentified white shrub rose

The plants in Nellie's garden are not ones I would have chosen. I do not choose white things. Or gold things. Or that fuchsia that is the color so many garden species seem to boil down to over time.


But I do like unusual things, and some of hers are. Like the strange lantern-budded self seeder pictured below, which unfurls perfect cream-and-burgundy blooms each morning. I believe they are open from approximately 6:22 am to 6:29 am. I'll try to arrange my schedule around capturing a photo of one, one of these days. Here are the ones I'll miss while prepping for the farmer's market tomorrow.

This plant is a mystery to me. If anyone knows, do tell.