It is February now, but that I should acknowledge that fact so ingenuously, as a means of apology for not having written for such an embarrassing length, is at its very best rather witless; the hallmark of month or season of my current contribution to this forum only becomes the prelude of future self-flagellation. Still, I remain contrite that I have not communicated to the very few that wish for something from wanderings and wonderings. Thank you Mary for so letting me know in your gracious and kind manner.
It is not that I haven’t dreamed of writing profusely and writing well. In the impossibly large drop of rain on the underbelly of the Viburnum fruit, early bird thrushes that dangerously flight in the headlights of my truck at 5am on the way to the gym, the campfire tears of too much smoke and laughter along deep, monsoon-drenched mountain trails in northern Vietnam, a pair of hearts pierced and emptied of air by the final farewell of two beloved canines, austral opportunities to refashion friendships in the wind-whipped gray of Patagonia surreally frothed by flamingoes in brackish water. All of these waxing-and full- and waning moon moments were at once or were to become my chimera, the dexterously forged novels and eulogies, a collection of short stories, biographies, fanciful trilogies, monographs and floras that I have all but taken bows for in Oslo. All but I have not yet taken the time to actually write a single word.
So today, after a monstrously long flight from Puerto Montt to Seattle, I settled myself into a garden again, joined at the hip by a brace of Springers named Odie and Max, neither of whom have yet to realize the heart-breaking monotony of hauls of winter-killed plants to the burgeoning funeral pyre in the back acreage.
It was the abruptness and meanness of the frost this year that took me away from my confidence, in twenty four hours, from a contented albeit late greenery and blossom to something akin to an influenza conjured by the evils of Mordor. My initial response was to deny that anything was hardy, in that everything I had ever suggested was hardy had become the next challenge for a higher power that I had really pissed off, a large-headed Ann Coulter-like creature who had google-earthed our property and selected Irradiate from a pop-up menu. I was in hysterics. I was in my underwear on our deck when I was forced to surrender. Even Tam Junipers might be killed, is what I said, albeit under torture. And she, the Ann Coulter-like creature took pity and my damn Tam Junipers survived.
But down the drive yesterday afternoon upon my arrival home, there it was, the tonic. The first Galanthus of the season in nice healthy clumps and even a flower or two of Lady Elphinstone whom I thought I had entirely lost. In the kitchen, the fragrance of Daphne bholua from the east entrance collided with the spice of Hamamelis ‘Amethyst’ from the west end. As I began in earnest today the long process of cleanup, I found plump spears of Disporum already eager to replace the freeze-dried culms I cut away.
There is a philosophy; this death, that opportunity. I have not joyfully subscribed to it in the past. But now, now that nothing is hardy, with two new dogs that find joy and adventure in every mournful motion about the garden, and again enlightened by friendships, new and/or refreshed in the field afar, I will gladly accept the tonic.