I grew up an hour north of here, on ten acres that my parents have owned for 35 years. There they carved out a home from a horse pasture: house, artist's studios, wood shop, gardens. Hardwood forest grew up around them, thick and strong and tall.
Now my parents are leaving. Their reasons are complex, and some are sad. While their land has matured and, in ways, reverted (from cleared to wooded), adjoining land has recently been bulldozed and developed. Instead of the honey scent of milkweed flowers blowing over and into Mom's garden, there is diesel exhaust. Gas wells are being drilled in the area; the rigs are ironclad and obtuse, and marching in ever closer.
It seems like wildlife has concentrated on Mom and Dad's land in the past two years - both new species and a denser population of old ones. It is bittersweet - I see all those animals, my parents included, clustered in the middle, looking out. They stand in solidarity, but they are cornered.
For my parents, there is a way out, and if they could take all the others to Vermont with them, I guess they probably would. They would pack foxes, rabbits and nuthatches (with snacks!) into crates in the car, and off they'd go.
At the very center of my being, there is my parents' land. I grew up out of arrowwood tunnels and shad bowers. It is painful, all this long writing of the last chapter. All this forever saying goodbye. But that, I think, is what has caused my family to gather so many nights in the garden over this summer, and last. And so we got to know a gift: nocturnal sphinx moths.
They are loud (bzz bzz), and as the evening grows darker, the moths flap out of the shadows of the treeline. The biggest one (in the second and third pictures above) I think might be an ash sphinx, and to my eye, it is just a bit bigger than a hummingbird. It loves Mom's lilies ('Arena' is the one shown here).
My dad, Michael Poster, made these pictures last summer.
Labels: my mother's garden