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Sunday, July 05, 2015

These things can wait


It has been over 90F out, and sometimes 100F, for over a month, seems like. The ground is complaining mightily, and now trees are beginning to shrink away from the sun. We anticipated this for several years and were more often wrong than right, but this year the garden's timing -- with things planted in March and April that traditionally are planted on Memorial Day weekend hereabouts -- has been impeccable.

So we are bringing in green beans, runners, zukes, cukes and tomatoes, and I have even eaten a ripe apple. The garden pests have also cranked their calendar forward, but for once we have the jump on them. Also, the predators seemed to know this was happening, and hatched out ahead of the pests and were waiting for them. There are orb weavers everywhere, and I have seen one munching a grasshopper nymph.


Daughter came by, intent on doing something holiday-like, so we loaded the kayaks on the pickup, which had not been done all year (!!) and made our way over to the reservoir.


Favas need shelling. Mulch needs to be cut and laid. Some marigolds want planting. Tomatoes in tubs need shifting. Weeds are going like gangbusters. But sometimes these things can wait.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Beans, beans, beans


A frog in the corn is an indicator of adequate irrigation ... I hope ...


I find the broad beans rewarding to grow but a little difficult to process. I was asked what is the difference between broad beans and favas. To me, it's all favas but the little ones are "field beans" and the big ones are "broad beans."

The pods are bendy but fibrous and do not snap like green beans, nor to they zip open by pulling the "string" as one does with peas. I resort to sliding a knife down each one and kind of folding each bean out, one by one. The pods will go right back in the beds, under straw.

It's best done with music and cider, I find. Today we have Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations.


I have a small fan suspended from the ceiling, aimed at the drying rack, and will rake the beans round till they re dried past molding. They should be able too sit in a half gallon mason jar through the winter -- or two or three winters, if need be.

I'll sleep well tonight, and I'm sure I will dream of beans, beans, beans.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

New potatoes are the best


We water with soakers but also freshen things up a bit with a spray nozzle. 

The garden, along with everything else, is trying to dry up. It was 101F here yesterday. Eugene had an official record at 98, so I think we had a record too. And no relief in sight for the next ten days.

It's quite the emergency. I have friends who have moved to motels for the duration, or are camping along streams and sitting in the water.


Things are maturing much faster than it says on the packets. Peas quite suddenly decided they were done, and I hauled the brush to the poultry for their inspection. They always eat about half the foliage before they're jaded, so it's worth the effort.


Broadbeans are also done, quite suddenly as well. I have gathered all I can use as fresh or frozen and will pick the rest for dehydration (they make good "roasted nuts" in winter) and as seed for next year. The last half row will be seed, and they should dry in the pods, so it's separate pickings.


As the day advances, I put a wet cloth in the back of my coolie hat and also hose myself down from time to time. These garden shifts are short -- half hour on, half hour off. I chop and drop the stalks and will return the empty pods to the mulch as well, then add new straw.


Broadbeans are not well known here but we find them to be our most reliable crop. They are quite good for most people -- a few react to them or at least to the foliage; I don't. I usually steam them alone or with rice and serve with a little butter or salt.

Around here we can plant them any time from November to March. They come up when they are ready to do so, which is quite early, and you can as a rule plan on having them out of the garden by July. Leave the roots in the ground if you can, instead of taking them away. By next year, the bed they were in will have slightly elevated nitrogen available to some other crop, not to mention improved tilth.

Next, I had better lift the potatoes. They show signs of maturity as well, and anyway the gophers have moved in. I will just have to tell myself that new potatoes are the best ...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Trying to protect the house

Trying to protect the house from heat,
Riding ladders, she paints a white roof,
Yes, and during heat waves, hangs tarps.
It is her ambition to refrain from power,
Not to use the loud machine that sits
Gurgling in every moneyed window.

This is privilege thinking, of course.
Out across the world, they that live

Pounding cassava or rice in stone bowls
Rarely think of heat but that it's there,
Older than plants, animals, themselves:
The other side of cold, a condition imposed
Everywhere at once. As if a fish
Could think of water, or a bird, air.
The privileged swim in personhood and ease,

Toss a ball and kids in the van and go,
Heavy foot on pedal, wheel, and tarmac, so
Even changing the very taste of seas.

Have you nightlong sat, polyester off,
On your hand nothing, sunset to sunrise
Under the stars' turning, wordless, empty, yet
Satisfied? Her roof gleaming, she would dare hope
Even a little thing may help pound rice.



Other Mother's Day



She is almost thirty, and arrives
Here, where waves are sold to tourists,
Ever stronger, ever more sure than



I, who look back, now, most of the time.
She stretches, cat-like, knowing as she does




All time and objects are hers. How am I? I
Lie a little, watching a gull sail off,
Mention the easy sunrise, hiding a limp
Or cough or skip of the heart, or plan for
Shedding of things no longer holding me,
Things my hands once understood, or




Things I knew to say, sing, throw, mold, be.
Here is a shell for Beloved. It's not chipped,
I'll take it to her. I'm a passageway now,
Really a conduit, a path, a test, a mirror.
The young one looks back, smiling.
Yes, I have evidence. I've done well.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

What matters is what you do


I have a favorite mug, big enough for soup or rice, and drink tea and coffee from it. It's big enough for retirement. A friend made three, in Pennsylvania, and our cousin sent them to us. I picked the black one, Beloved picked the gray one, and Last Son got the blue one. He didn't get to pick one; seniors must have some privileges.

This mug is a bit front heavy for me, even though the clay was worked very thin; but it's nice in both hands and a terrific hand-warmer for winter mornings. It's not bad in June, either, and I stumble out in my robe, hair disheveled, eyelids swollen and cup wobbling, to have a look at the riot of plant life in the kitchen garden by the slanting light.


it's raspberry season and I'm falling behind already on those and also the peas. So I had a friend over and herded her through the beds. Thoughtfully, she brought two large shopping bags, and was a great help.


While she harvested, I brought bolted lettuces, chinese cabbages, and spinach, some of them three feet tall, to the chickens and ducks. Susannah, the goose, who eats grass primarily and whose diet is getting a bit coarse for her, spots me with the lettuce and shadows me as I walk along the fence, demanding that I give it all to her, but she gets one head which she must share with the ducks, and the other two heads are for the two batches of hens.


We have never had corn knee high by the fourth of July. This year is different; waist high in June. This is not necessarily a good thing. The earth is drying out when we should still be in our rainy season. I don't know if I'll be able to irrigate in August. I can visualize going to the river with carboys.


Meanwhile, I divert a cupful of the water for my own use, and drink it as coffee while admiring the scarlet runners.

An eagle flies past, harried by a raucus crow.

My friend and I found a deer mouse's head in the pasture. No body; just the head. Who dropped it there? Too small, maybe, for the eagle, it could have been lost by the neighborhood screech owl, or a passing Cooper's hawk or kestrel. It was nobody's business now but that of the insects. Already the ants had marked a trail to the bounty.

We stopped in the zendo.

"This is all built from scraps, mostly other folks' fence boards."

"I see; it's very nice."

"Everything here is not quite quite. The floor is uneven, the Buddha is vague looking, the bell doesn't have a very good tone. So it's all a bit like me."

She picked up the "bell inviter" and sang the bowl experimentally. "No; it's good enough. What matters is what you do."




Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Three deep breaths


Three deep breaths, palms together,
Here in her room, or elsewhere, she may
Rise and take. A habit she has formed,
Even as most of her ideas, ideals,
Even her so cherished findings, hard found,

Deducted, inducted, reasoned, debated, polished,
Even those most like faith, as taught her,
Even those most like science, measured, observed,
Peeled one by one: a human desert, she.

By three deep breaths, she centers somehow: how?
Reality itself a question she's no longer asking,
Eating and sleeping themselves provisional.
All she bothers to call caring is now to listen
To breath, room sounds, outside sounds, to
Her friends, their worries unpacked, their voices
Spending both hope and pain. She bows.

In season


What she will do today is walk and take in
Hand her apple staff, leaning on it
As she does now, more and yet more
The nearer arriving to a last heart beat

She comes, and check for vegs and berries.
Here are yet more peas; she's not as
Eager for them as three days ago.

With a bit more busy-ness, she'd go
In for blanching those. Onions and
Leeks too small yet; almost out of
Lettuce; tomatoes on the other hand

Doing well, and some ready already.
Oh, she could cut kale, collards or chard

This morning like any late spring morning,
Only she's hungry for something more.
Do what she will, there are yet no pears,
Apples, zukes, potatoes, corn, or beans.
You must make with what you have.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

It all depends

In the mornings before going out walking with Toto, I have been ambling down the tunnel between the grapes and the Gravenstein, snapping off grape tendrils that reach for the tree and tossing them into the compost bin.


There is generally light at the end of the tunnel and it is the morning light in the lower garden beds. Their best exposure is eastern, so it's bright early down there.


Moving soaker hoses takes me down to the end of the corn block and I can turn around and look back the way I've come. The barn shows as just a hint of red at the other end of the grape and Gravenstein tunnel.


I may work my way back along the potatoes, pulling weeds for the chickens' breakfast, or along the peas, having a breakfast of my own. Or perhaps along the tomatoes, tucking their new growth back into their cages.

It all depends.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Uchiyama is right


While moving hoses, I found this tomato turning. What's remarkable about that is that it's about sixty days ahead of schedule. We are in a small heat wave, which is unusual for June here; also there was no winter to speak of and these tomatoes (Stupice) were planted a month earlier than they ordinarily would be, so if this was ever going to happen, this would be the year.


While dragging hoses I carelessly knocked a young turnip out of the ground, so hosed it off and hung it on the fence to take in for lunch.


 The cherries are also ahead of schedule, so I'm doing acrobatics. This is the pie cherry tree; I'll also hit the Royal Annes. They were billed as Bings, which are all anyone (including us) ever wants, but all our Bing trees grew up to produce pale Royal Anne look-alikes, so that is what we will call them. Who knows what they are. Good, anyway.


Once you are in the tree, you can pull loaded branches toward you if you're patient. Fruiting cherry branches are quite supple but if you're hasty with them, they can break. Looking from the top of the ladder toward the garden, I can see the corn, potatoes and tomatoes coming along. I should also pick peas today.

Looking in the other direction, I see my neighbors have their hay down. They did it all in one day instead of the usual two, with the tractor rumbling far into the night, headlamps glowing.


Uchiyama says that there is no past and no future, only this supremely real instant in the present, in which the self that is the self is the ground of being, in which one is one with all things. I pick one cherry for me, and savor it while smelling the drying hay.

Yep, Uchiyama is right.







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