chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Tag Archives: garden

Subjectiv Journal

poem

The evolution

For a while, in the first months
of the pandemic, you feared your hands:

that they might be the engine of your destruction,
grab from the air, from book or doorknob,

newspaper or broccoli, the errant cell calling
to your lungs. Those hands, lathered, rinsed,

laundry hung out in a dust storm, dragged back in,
washed again. And your face, itching, yearning

for them, abandoned lover. Later, the air itself
became suspect and you held your breath on the trail,

in the grocery store, at the mailbox. Yet, shocked
by your isolation, your fear of contamination,

you came to enjoy the whims of unstructured days,
the naps and chickadees and jigsaw puzzles.

You called old friends, cleaned cupboards, ticked tasks
off your list, learned new technology. You had

no passport, no visa for the country called the future.
The microorganism would stamp your documents,

or not. So you gardened as if someone else
might harvest the beautiful purple peapods,

the lettuce, even the sudden radishes.
And then, as predictions became less dire,

you discovered a new fear:
that life would return to normal.

© J.I. Kleinberg

found poem: in Emily’s garden

found poem: bestiary

found poem: a visceral fragrance

found poem: such a profound effect

found poem: my yard

found poem: warmth

found poem: the garden

found poem: ask the garden

found poem: imagine

with summer comes

purple allium…the industry of hymenoptera

The mason bees, which were busy in the early spring, are sealed into their private residences for the year, but now, as the day warms, a quiet air force works the garden, squadrons with clear targets and little crossover.

Purple allium bobs on long stems under the weight of honeybees, two or three on each spiky head. The lacecap hydrangeas, in full blowsy bloom, are abuzz with furry bumblebees packing yellow saddlebags of pollen. The plum trees, which have no flowers but are fat with ripe fruit, are patrolled by wasps: yellow jackets, paper wasps, hornets and thread-waists of various description.

Hard bee bodies click against sunlit windows. In shady spots near the house I discover (and discourage) starter nests — walnut-size clusters of cells or the first tender layers of paper. As I pull weeds, I find telltale traces of ground bees: chewed soil, tidy round openings.

They do their work, I do mine, mostly not interfering with one another, tending the garden, harvesting the bounties of summer.

the garden’s…

there is all this…

pink tree peony with raindrops
…a whisper of rain on the roof; spruce aglow with furry new growth; red rhododendron in full fanfare, visible from four blocks away; rain-drenched wood fence the perfect backdrop for every spring color; dogwood barking pink, pink, pink, pink; crabapple’s spill of cerise petals on the patio; a single sparrow whose plangent serenade from the top of the smoke tree persists through every hour of daylight; the blizzard of white plum blossoms now turned to fruit the size and shape of a grain of rice; an evening rainbow against a charcoal sky; the fragrance of turned soil; a neighborhood walk at dusk revealing a chorus—hundreds, perhaps—of frogs, heard but unseen in a backyard pond behind a hedge; raindrops pearling on blue-green hosta leaves; three pale blooms on the tree peony, each wrapping a luscious confection of pollen; the long, long twilight of spring…

the autumn garden…

stolen appleBehind a gentle afternoon breeze, a big wind — the first of the season — gusts in from the north. Unusually warm — what reaches us from that direction is typically well-chilled somewhere in the sub-Arctic plains of Canada — it scrubs and ruffles the clouds for a blazing sunset, brightens the eyes of the stars and calls due the maple leaves that have lingered extra long in their dazzle of red-orange.

This is a busy season for gardening, when depleted vegetables and spent vines and errant irises are tended with an eye toward barren winter and productive spring. The last broadcast of summer’s ambitious weed seeds has taken hold.

The squirrels are busy, too. They help themselves to apples, carry them away in their teeth and leave chewed cores scattered around the yard. Run off in mid-theft, a squirrel will usually keep hold of its treasure. But not always. The apple sat on the fence for most of the afternoon before it was reclaimed.

Tucked among the herbs and under yellowing hosta leaves are apples “buried” in holes that would do well for a peanut but leave the fruit half exposed. I throw them down the untamed slope behind the house, where some critter will find them, or perhaps they’ll sprout and join the feral grove.

Under a rain of leaves, I move through the garden pulling, trimming, clearing. Knowing that the real work is indoors: the poems that need pruning, or sit buried in files waiting to be reclaimed, or swirl in wind-ruffled eddies of words, teasing, just beyond reach. Seeds of the feral grove.

autumn at 9 a.m.

in Emily’s garden…

a frustration of beauty…

sedum season
Some years ago, when I moved into my house and began digging up the sad grass that called itself a front lawn, I picked up a few lentil-size bits of sedum that had shucked off a neighbor’s plant and tossed them at random into the yard. They spread themselves happily among the new plantings and each June, after the tulips and peonies and rhododendrons are finished, they fluoresce into brilliant mounds and swales of yellow.

I try and try to photograph this fleeting season, frustrated by its beauty, which my camera seems unwilling to capture, whether in cloud-light or sun: the yellow not nearly yellow enough, the effect not truly the illuminated-from-below radiance that the eye sees.

In the afternoon sun, this gush of early summer is a buzz and blur of bees. Stand back and every yellow thing on the block seems inspired by the color; lean in and the mounds reveal themselves to be uncountable constellations of five-pointed stars.

overwhELMed…

elm seedsHow eager the Ulmus, spring limbs laden with pendant promise, profligate in its disc-winged seeds.
Yet how tough, unwelcomed, these papery lozenges, these flighted samara, in even this moist and fecund earth. For surely if they succeeded in proportion, then instead of Doug fir and maple, cedar and alder, we would be enveloped by elms.

signs of spring…

elkhorn cypress in April
The perfect greens of spring, scale precise upon scale, new growth bright as the robin chick’s gape, this hunger for air, for life, this urge to twirl the slowest waltz.

. . . . .
thujopsis dolabrata – elkhorn cypress

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