This Thing Called Courage

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Turkeys, Garlic, and Rain

MY NEPHEW TEDDY (Edward Everett Andrews III, which sounds like the name of one of the old magnates of industry that used to call me 'Boy' when I worked at the Winchester Country Club when I was in college)got married yesterday to his college sweetheart Mary Von Euw (ditto!) at St. Dominic's Church on the grounds of Providence College, where they met. It was a Halcyon day, a very moving ceremony, and a wild and wonderful reception. Rumors that I was dancing frenetically with a large woven basket on my head to 'She's a Brickhouse' are, alas, true. Which was probably better than what Rocky (another nephew, James Paul Pembroke-- ditto again!)was dancing with, to wit, the large artifical ficus plant said woven basket was shortly before liberated from.

Teddy's brother Christian (recovering nicely from his Brown Recluse Spider bite) gave a mascara-ruining Best Man Speech, which was truly the best I've ever heard, during which he paid tribute to he and Teddy's late father (my sister Peggy's husband Ed) as well as the wonderful relationship the two brothers have always enjoyed. It was a very late evening and I'm rather sore and tired today-- despite walking five miles a day and trying to keep in shape, there are some muscles the latter does not require which, apparently, dancing frenetically to 'She's a Brickhouse' with a basket on one's head do. Remember when weddings used to be tacky, and, despite their uber-load of source material for a writer of sarcastic bent, occasions to be dreaded? The last few I've been privileged to attend have been anything but.

Back at the Squirly Tree House (my friend Clay's name for my humble abode)summer's coming on to her ripening full. The cherry tomatoes are the size of peas, the morning glories are twining six inches a day, the late crop of French yellow wax beans have come up, the Hyperion Daylilies are about to bloom (as are the White Echinacea ('Fragrant Angel') and the Astilbe) and the birds, due to things being so dry, are almost fighting over the bird bath, an old Swedish frying pan a friend gave me that sits on my porch railing amidst the pansies (which are starting to look peckish, as pansies will this time of year.) There's a sad house two doors down from me whose backyard also empties into the four acres of woods back here. It's sad because it's empty and deserted (and I think of the old poem about the same by Joyce Kilmer) and once it was joyful and occupied and boasted one of the finest gardens I've ever seen. It was a household of three gay men, one couple and a roommate. I was friendly with the roommate but not the couple, whom I never met. The couple broke up, the house emptied until only the owner was left, and then something happened involving police and court orders and the house has been empty for six months or so, with a court-ordered NO TRESSPASSAING eviction notice on the front door-- as well as a real estate agent's business card. The house is going into foreclosure and will be probably sold soon, for a steal I bet. At any rate I was snooping in the old back garden (which plunges down about forty feet) a few weeks ago-- and it was so sad to see branches down, weeds and brambles taking over, the garden pond's waterfall silent, the two fish in the pond belly-up, etc. Like an outdoor version of Miss Havisham's house. But it's an ill wind that doesn't blow someone some good, and I have recently discovered that this is where the Momma turkey (whom I have nicknamed 'Lady T', admittedly tacky but what can I say) and her four chicks (correctly called poults) are making their home. Hopefully they will come to maturity before someone buys the place and makes changes-- but even if they do, the turkeys can withdraw further into the woods and no harm done, I would think.

The other hidden treasure this old garden contains is row after row after row of garlic, which, if it isn't harvested, is perennial. This crop should be ready later this month or early August and, as it will go unharvested, I keep thinking what a culinary shame that would be...
I'm crazy for garlic, and the fresher the better. Freshly harvested garlic is worlds away from the dried up bitter stuff one finds so often (though not as often as before)and is the easiest vegetable I know to grow. You separate the head into invidual cloves, plant the gloves six inches apart in rows a foot apart, and, voila, six months later you have garlic. You can plant it in May for an October harvest, or plant it in October (it will winter over) and harvest it the following August. I may have to go down there soon, to the sad abandoned house, just to see how that robust crop is doing...and if you smell the odor of roasting or stir-fried garlic coming from my kitchen shortly thereafter, I'm sure it will be a coincidence.

It's been VERY dry here lately, and after the heat last week, when the front came in, we were promised thunderstorms with drenching rains. It was a very wide and long front, extending from Lubec, Maine to Georgia, and it took 48 hours to move through, an extraordinarily long time. At one point Wednesday afternoon I could hear the T-storms booming away just to the north of me. The sky blackened, that cold rush of leaf-stripping wind that precedes a T-storm tore into the house, slamming doors as it went, the birds sought shelter- but not a drop. Perhaps I should have done a rain dance with my Peruvian rain stick. So I was watering and watering and watering, which really doesn't do half the job a good rain does. When I got into bed last night, just as I was falling alseep, I heard a large rumbling boom to the west, and mistook it at first for fireworks (it's that time of year.) But five minutes later the shade flapped with the wind, and shortly thereafter I heard the best sound a gardener can during a drought-- or "DRU-tha" as my mother's Aunt Clotilda (yes, Clotilda) used to pronounce it-- a drenching, pouring rain. It didn't last too long, but long enough to give everything a nice drink, and my garden looks so fresh and vibrant this morning. I've got a few holes to fill out in the perennial garden out front, and a late crop of broccoli to plant in the vegetable garden, and today would be a nice day to do it, but I may have to wait, as I've still got family hanging from the rafters, with more visiting this afternoon. Hopefully tomorrow.

Lastly, there's not just one chipmunk living under my back stairs, but a whole family of them. When we came back from our walk this morning, they were eating cracked corn when I took them by surprise. The lookout let out a shrill chirp that sounded extrememly bird-like, then they all screwed into the basement via the various holes in the stone foundation. I counted at least three of them. Like most everything else of a wild nature that comes from the woods out back and makes their way here (except for the mosquitoes, which suffer Death by Newspaper) they are more than welcome-- there's plenty for everybody.


Blogger Glenn Johnson said...

I attended my best friend's wedding weekend before last. Highlights were the bride throwing her roses to me in the parking lot behind the church with a shout: You're Next!

Also the sudden appearance of the groom and bride, dressed casually just moments earlier, arriving to the group photo on the hillside of their home in Whately, in full wedding garb with the groom driving the John Deere riding lawnmower and the bride in the cart leaning against his shoulders.

I would not recommend singing the full lyrics of Making Whoopie (see )
at a wedding reception. Ever. But apparently it is a tradition for some obnoxious uncles. Much to the bride's dismay and our mortification.

The groom made a speech where he recalled a bike trip with my friend to Vermont that she claimed would not be hilly at all. Of course it was all hills. He said he hoped when time had passed they would look back on life's challenges and not remember any hills.

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