Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Not-So-Secret Garden

The late spring sun does me a favor by staying up until 8:13pm tonight. This is my time in the sun.  Time after dinner when the table is cleared, plates rinsed and stacked into the overloaded dishwasher, animals fed and children readying the kitchen table for a long night of study.

It's time to pull up weeds that have sprouted over the course of a few days of heavy downpours.  To don gloves as to spare my hands the hard to scrub dirt under my fingernails.  To exercise rambunctious dogs that have been kept house bound all day, their noses brown from digging for invisible treasure in the indulgent suburban lawn.

I am often serenaded on these nights.  Years ago it was by my eldest practicing piano on our used upright in the family room. Now it’s by neighbors’ children who have taken up trumpets and saxophones adding a horn section to the ensemble of cardinals, blue jays, robins and toads singing at dusk.  It’s easy to get lost in this concert hall.  My neighbors’ lilacs add a sweet perfume.  Occasionally, bats flutter in the sky. But the tomatoes need to be planted, the spinach weeded, tall asparagus ferns tied as to not fall over, container cucumbers staked and compost piled to recycle the mess.

When the utilitarian back is  done, the decorative front needs to be tended. The overgrown bushes need trimming, daffodil stalks need to stay up a bit longer to feed the bulbs for next years' yellow show and my “zombie geraniums” need to be mixed with some new store-bought ones. Not all of these zombies come back to life after a winter in the garage. But they aren’t scary. It’s the price of their replacements that is truly frightening, but I  need a full spectrum billboard to enhance the starkness of this black and white house.

And those digger bees.  A swarm of busy ones have encamped in my front lawn.  They tell me they are not dangerous but who really wants to challenge that?  I steer clear of them, as to not provoke their wrath. If only the dogs would be so wise.

It’s dark now.  There are no streetlights like those of my urban youth that signaled when it was time to go inside. The sun is my guide now and when the only thing I can see of my black Labrador is her reflective collar, I know I am finished.

Time to go in. Enough reflecting. The light is gone.

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