The day moves gently.
It is perfect. The sounds – birds, leaves rustling, Neil singing – caress me.
The world outside this house is Eden. Glowing green, pulsing yellow, a flash of red, purple peeks out. Light bounces everywhere – off the seed tassels of the grasses, from the fluttering leaves of the cottonwood, from the glassy surface of the pond.
Mother Nature’s Merry Little Breezes are dancing.
It’s a Sunday afternoon here at Chigger Lake.
I eat a pear, juicy and sweet.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
Today I shall work in the yard. Or rather, hang out and look at the yard. If the spirit moves me I might move a rock or plant something in the dirt or trim something. But probably not.
I fight with my Puritan Self. It wants to be working and busy and putting things straight. It is powerful and nags. It is aware of what other people say and think and wants to fit in. It has rules and regulations and feels guilt.
Not today, Puritan Self. Today you shall be put away in the back bedroom to simmer and kvetch.
Today my Child Self shall play. She is seven years old. She is lazy. She wanders around looking at stuff. She is interested in everything.
Ohhhh. A hawk just flew so close to the house, I saw its tail feathers in detail. Swoooosh, gone. It’s looking for cats to eat. Hah! Not today, hawk.
I think I’ll cook an artichoke. When I bought it the boy who was bagging my groceries didn’t know what it was. He was mighty suspicious of it.
An artichoke with lemon mayonnaise. Yes. That’ll be nice.
I go out on the deck, under the shade of the cottonwood tree and lie down. I close my eyes and listen to everything. I feel everything. I sense the light and shadow on my eyelids.
I hear a meow and look over and see Rosie the Cat through the screen of the sliding glass door. She’s looking at me and I can tell she wants food. I ignore her. She’s getting fat, losing her waistline. She’ll have to wait until Che the Cat comes out from under the abandoned guinea coop to come in for his supper.
But my reverie has been disturbed and I feel Puritan Self stirring. It’s saying that I must get up and get going and DO SOMETHING, NOW.
So I rouse myself, sit up painfully, look around and see a million things that should be done. At least a million. I have GOT to learn to ignore that Puritan Self before it kills me.
But I get up. Rosie comes outside and follows me. This is uncommon. She loves me more each day since I rescued her from Orval’s house. Four months of living on the lam from the dogs has taught her that I am her very, very, VERY best friend. Ever. And I feed her.
We walk around the outside of the house and I realize that I have to water everything. Just because we had a rainstorm two days ago doesn’t let me off the hook. And of all the outside work I do, watering is the most fruitful and the most gratifying.
Water is life.
So I pull out the long, long hose, turn on the pump water and start on my side “yard”. It is a desolate stretch of red clay with clumps of scraggly clover here and there, sprigs of some kind of grass sparsely dotting the clay, two tenacious apple trees which seem to be making it, although they aren’t the most luscious apple trees I’ve ever seen. I thought I had lost them for sure last year, but here they are, struggling in the clay, with me trying to amend the soil after the fact. There have been some blossoms and will eventually have some fruit. I hope.
I water, water, water everything, including the bare clay and the now defunct fig tree. Something…a deer?…has snapped off every leaf for the two years since I’ve put it in the ground and I guess that has killed it. Or maybe it was our very intense winter this past year.
I water my compost pile, melons spreading, tomatoes popping, sunflowers reaching toward the sun. God knows what else is finding its way out of the ground, but there is a LOT of plant life coming up. The mound itself sits about ten feet from the door of my shed and last year, when the gigantic sunflowers came up, the whole shed was hidden. That mound has to be unbelievably fertile. I’ve thrown eggs shells, coffee grounds, every kind of peeling and seed, leaf and root, you can imagine. When it began to look so horrible that even I couldn’t stand it, I began grinding up all my raw vegetable kitchen waste in my blender, added water and dumped it wherever the spirit told me to.
It’s amazing how much vegetable compost a single person makes in a day.
I dragged my hose back to the pump, turned off the water, unfastened the sprinkler head, dragged it across my driveway to the OTHER hose, fastened it, walked back to the pump, and turned it on.
There are a lot of steps in this watering business when you don’t (or can’t afford) a sprinkling system.
I walked to the east side of the house and started watering. That side of the house has a hill sloping down to the forest and volunteer bermuda grass has begun growing and spreading up the hill. But today it didn’t look all that healthy.
Could it be the gray water from my washing machine is making it sick? I thought gray water was supposed to be good for plants. I don’t use bleach. Is it the boron in the 20 Mule Team Borax? Too much boron? I know plants must have SOME boron.
The boron question. Perplexing.
I watered the lilac bushes and the shrubs and daydreamed about putting in morning glories around my outdoor shower. I have been trying to figure out a way to install some kind of lattice work so the morning glories could climb it and make a pretty screen next to my shower. I seem to not be able to think of anything that doesn’t require digging in that horrible cement-like clay.
Neighbor Jim suggested I get a post hole digger attachment for my drill. I’m thinking that’s my best bet.
I notice clumps of white froth at the bases of clover and wildflower stalks. Caterpillar eggs? Frog eggs?
I realize I’ve got three different kinds of clover growing. This gets me excited. Clover is great for soil. I’ve got clover that grows waist high and has yellow flowers, I’ve got clover that has beautiful leaves and a lovely round white blossom and I’ve got groundcover clover, again with yellow flowers.
I water the basil and Italian parsley and cherry tomatoes in pots on the deck, and the succulents, too.
I water my huge plumeria, looking elegantly Hawaiian in its pot.
I water all the baby cottonwoods and the cedars and the red and green shrubs. I water the skunk weed, the prettiest yellow flowers ever, I water the tiny purple violets hiding in the tall grass, I water the ash seedlings and the hemlock seedlings, I water the buffalo grass and the willow tree, I water the verbena and the pretty white flowers that look like trumpets, I water the nettles which will have huge gorgeous purple flowers soon, I water the potted junipers and the aloe vera.
I turn off the sprinkler head, walk to the water pump, turn off the water, walk back to the house.
I leave the hose stretched across the driveway. “Hah!” Child Self says, impishly.
Rosie follows. Wants to EAT! Angela Davis, the newly spayed neighbor dog whose real name is Princess, stretches herself awake. I pick a couple of ticks off of her. Frontline doesn’t always do the trick. I realize that after two years of ticks I am no longer the least bit squeamish with them. Che the Cat meows at the door and I let him in. I feed the cats and the dog. Diego the Dog will be in later. He probably is rolling in something he thinks is fabulous. Two days ago it was oil. Engine oil. All over his neck and chest.
What the hell is WITH that dog??
And I am here to report that Dawn dishwashing liquid really DOES dispel grease. Diego is my testimonial. If you buy it you can go to their website and they’ll give $1.00 to help wildlife. It is the official wildlife soap. It is used on birds and seals and other living creatures which have been trapped in oil spills.
And now I’m back at my computer, writing this day down for you. The sun is getting lower in the sky. The shadows are beginning to lengthen from west to east. I haven’t done much but I sure am happy.
Everybody’s fed. Now it’s my turn.
Artichoke, here I come.