This Thing Called Courage

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Garden Update

IT USUALLY STARTS around the middle of August-- perhaps not coincidentally with the annual reappearence of the Perseif Meteor Showers-- but this year it was a little earlier than usual-- the beginning of that separate season between summer and fall that I call 'Goldenrod-Slanted-Light-Cricket-Quiet-Season'-- the dreamiest time of the year. There's a hush in the air, as if summer heard the approaching footsteps of autumn, and the light has all changed-- its coming in lower on the horizon, the shadows are getting longer, and there is a touch of sweetness, and plantiveness, you can almost taste. It came in last Thursday evening, when the light was so golden, and so benign (gone is the stark searing light of July) that everything was gilded in radiance. I wanted-- like Emily Dickinson's father, who once rang a church tower bell in alarm, to inform everyone about the beauty of that evening's sunset-- to shout it from the rooftops. (I probably would have, but my joy was tempered, as it still is in all things, by the fact that little Fionn has been ill.) So I just called my dear friend Dermot.

The ancient and not-so-ancient Celts knew the seasons changed now too, and they called this season Lughnasa (the spelling varies, which means I don't have to look it up it the dictionary, and therefore may mis-spell with impunity) named after the Celtic god Lugh, or Ludh-- the god of laughter, and the harvest. That seaon runs August 1- October 31 or, more acurately, from sunset on July 31 to sunset on October 31-- their calendar seasons run a month ahead of ours. Caitlin Matthews, of Celtic Spirituality fame, has written a 'Threshold Invocation for the Festival of Lughnasadh,' "to be said at the front door of the house on the eve of Lughnasadh, July 31, in the evening." It goes like-a this:

Lady of the Land, open the door,

Lord of the Forest, come you in.

Let there be welcome to the bountiful compassion,

Let there be welcome to the Autumn of the Year.

In fruit and grain you are traveling,

In ferment and bread you will arrive.

May the blessed time of Lughnasadh

Nourish the soul of all beings,

Bringing love and healing to all hurts.

From the heights to the depths,

From the depths to the heights,

To the wounds of every soul.

Well alright! In garden news, the first crop of string beans (yellow, green, and purple) have been harvested, and the second crop (all green) is blossoming now. The garlic has been harvested, though some still remain in the ground, and it's so delicious I've been eating it raw, much to my workout partner's chagrin. But fresh garlic comes around just once a year, and it's important I think to celebrate with an orgy of it. The broccoli is coming along, the first tomatoes have exploded juicily in my mouth, and the flower garden along the front of the street hit its glorious and scented prime this past week. I had planted a whole packet of nastutium seeds along the edge of the front wall, envisioning how lovely it would be when they got big and spilled over the edge. It's funny, my aunt, or perhaps my uncle, in Chelmsford, had piles of Nasturtium (or maybe it was one of their neighbors) many years ago. I wasn't all that crazy about them, and in fact have never planted them before this year. But then I saw how Monet used them in his garden at Giverney-- at either edge of a wide dirt path-- and looked closer at the flower itself-- and the scales fell from my eyes. The flowers are like jewels-- orange, scarlet, or yellow, with banded throats, and little spurs at the back, like Columbine-- and both leaf and flower are edible. I can only regret the unplanted Nasturtiums of yesteryear. Their reputation says that they are almost embarrassingly easy to grow-- but such is not the case for me. While I have no trouble with other plants deemed 'fussy' or even 'difficult,' (like some relations) the little buggers came up, and have grown so incrementally slow that now, as we are nearing summer's end, they aren't much bigger than my fist. One or two of them have bloomed-- almost as if they only wanted to ensure the continuation of the species-- and so I checked them out on the web. Seems many other people wrote into the particular blog I consulted, with a smiliar problem. You can't fertilize them, or you'll get explosive leaf growth and no flower (which is the case in the two I planted in pots down the back stairs, but not out front); you can't let them dry out (mine did, as its quite dry out there and the soil hasn't been amended yet up to my usual smelly standards) nor do they 'like the heat.' Hmmm-- a summer flower that doesn't like the heat...what to say? The cooler weather is coming, so we'll see if that does them any good. Maybe I need a touch of lime (this is my feeling.) At any rate we will try again next year, provided we're still here.


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