Thursday, May 15, 2014

Gardeners as Holy Fool

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An ancient tribe of optimists, gardeners and farmers mourn the vagaries of weather but show up, flood, fire or frost. They stand vigil at dawn, the life-stewards, and protect what survives. They prepare to replant.

Also realists, they make peace with cutting out deadwood and branch tangles, and with thinning--spindly thickly-sown carrots or orchard fruit too heavy on the branch.

It snowed a startling four inches two days ago, a quasi-blizzard, it being May. I had planted non-tender seed before the weather surprise.

This morning I peeked around the sweet pea trellis, and saw that a French heirloom spinach with long leaves, grand noble, has sprouted and forged to the surface! Great market gardeners, the French, with lovely old varieties.

Seed sprouting is not a given with this wild weather; it's a gift.

Heirloom means I can keep harvesting the outer spinach leaves and then let a few plants go to seed to save for next year. A freedom apparently loathed by sociopaths and Monsanto.

Last autumn, I cut back red Russian kale stalks to ground level and two astonished me by leafing out this spring. They're about to bloom. I'll collect the seed and clear the way for other crop.

While pottering about the green growing world, I suddenly felt aerial presence, and "saw a thang."

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A kestrel ten feet overhead, circling on updraft. Peripheral vision spied a baby rabbit scuttling under the wood pile!

A relatively small raptor, a wingspan too slight to elevate my neighbor's fat chickens. Though an eagle could...

While still tenting homeless on my continental journey, I was camping above a deep river canyon. A friend enticed me down a cliff-side, quite steep, and said:

"Pay attention; it's magic. I'll be back in a hour."

A fellow mixed-blood, I trusted her instincts. I clambered down and settled on a basalt ledge under a piƱon and went quiet. She had told me a waterfall pours over the cliff in the rainy season...

I heard laughter! Below the cliff in centuries of hollow, bronze-skinned children, their wraiths, were splashing in the pool. Children of a lost people, the Anasazi.

My friend and I had wandered the mesa wild places and found spear points and hide scrapers, and piles of flint chips.

A canyon wren bobbed and sang its liquid song on the ledge, and suddenly flew into hiding.

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Everything grew still as a buzzard floated below me on the strong updraft. It croaked suddenly and darted to an outcropping.

A seven foot wingspan drifted and hovered just below me, evening light russet on each feather, a golden eagle.

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Close enough to see its talons, beak and frightening eye scanning for prey. It drew in its wings and plummeted out of my line of vision.

It might as well have ripped my heart out of my chest and carried it other-where. The setting sun all but blinded me.
Storyteller's Nook: