Thursday, February 16, 2017

My Garden Shadow[s]

With many apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson,

"I have three "little" shadows that go in and out with me.
And what can be the use of them is more than I can see."

As I garden, I usually have a faithful entourage, albeit a rather hairy, sometimes smelly, one.  With the passing of our dear cat T.J., I am now sadly reduced to three "shadows", but what great companions they are - and how loved, warm and protected they make me feel!

Becker is the eldest...and the largest.  We got him shortly after Katrina, after my dear old girl Annie passed away.  The 7 week old pup that fit on my lap coming home grew up a little bit!  Ummmm, perhaps MORE than a little bit, topping out at close to 150 pounds "back in the day."  He's 11 1/2 now and beginning to slow down, but he's still as bright-eyed as ever.

Next in size is Blue, whom we adopted as a 16 month old "wild man" several years ago.  He'd been confined to a pen in the middle of his owner's backyard and he was quite vociferous about that indignity; I could hear him from blocks away when I went to meet him for the first time.  While kennel-bound, Blue apparently decided that it was his divine duty to keep the world safe from cats and squirrels, but the fence kept him from carrying out his appointed duties.  When I brought him home the first time, he hit the ground at a dead run, ears back and ruff up, to take out one of our cats.  I seriously questioned my sanity in bringing him home at that moment, but Blue learned quickly to accept our pack members.  He's a loving and important member of our family now.  Woe betide an unwary squirrel, however, or a cat that doesn't "belong."

Smallest of my garden guardians is Bella...but she is mighty in spirit!  Bella is another refugee, abandoned by her original owners when they moved.  At that point, Bella adopted our daughter, bringing along her 2 half-grown kittens.  When Jess tried to keep Bella inside, though, Bella made it quite clear that she is a free spirit and would not be confined.  Lo and behold, Bella ended up taking residence with "Mom and Dad', on our 10 acres in Kansas.  She's been a good sport about the move to a more populated area, but she still much prefers the out-of-doors, despite my open door policy.

(Note:  For the sake of the wildlife, I would  MUCH prefer that Bella - and all cats - be kept inside, but Bella has very strong opinions about that concept and makes herself abundantly plain about what she considers acceptable.  As often seems to happen, I have learned to compromise....)

I hope you have gardening companions every bit as loving and loyal as mine - and perhaps even a little less likely to break off or otherwise destroy a plant when they inadvertently step on it.  I try to keep an open mind, though, and think of the "pruning" that is occurring.  At any rate, I consider the occasional, accidental loss of a plant well worth the companionship.

Thoughts While Weeding

What do you think about while you weed?

As relaxing and enjoyable as I find it to weed, you'd think I'd be thinking elevated, beautiful thoughts that calmed my spirit and elevated my soul.

You would be grossly wrong.  A few days ago, I found myself "listening" to  my thoughts and here's what I heard:

1)  a series of theme songs running through my head from Winnie-the-Pooh, "I'm so rumbly, in my tumbly, time for something SWEET, to eat!"  and "Winnie-the-Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh, scrubby little tubby all stuffed with fluff!  He's Winnie-the-Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh, willy, little silly, old bear!" and "Up, do-own, up!  Up, do-own, up!  When I up, down, and touch the ground, it puts me in the mood.  Up, down, and touch the ground, in the mood for food!  I am short, round, and I have found, speaking poundage-wise, I improve my appetite, when I exercise!"

2) more somber thoughts about our family friend who, at 55, was diagnosed recently with a very malignant form of cancer,

3) and, of course, some political angst mixed in with the more pressing comical and tragic elements.

At other times as I weed, I find myself composing gardening blog posts.  Understand, please, that the vast majority of these garden-composed posts have long since escaped my mind by the time I actually sit down in front of the computer.  Nonetheless, I go on, mentally "writing."

As I weed, sometimes I dwell on transplanting that needs to be done or on other changes to my "landscape designs".  ("Landscape designs", in my garden, is a euphemism for the "plop 'em there" design pattern that I generally follow when I bring home a carload of fantastic plants that I've just discovered at my local nursery or plant sale.)

Most importantly, I think, I talk to the creatures that I see while I'm weeding, like this recently de-tailed ground skink,

this red-faced little southern toad I disturbed, buried in the soil,

or the red-shouldered hawk that haughtily surveyed the landscape while "hidden" right above me.

All of these guys joined me in the garden recently, even though it's still early February.  They are among the living creatures with whom Greg and I share our landscape, so it seems only polite (and politic) to discuss the changes I'm making with them when I see them.

What do you think about while you weed?