One way to end an era

For years I’ve let the rambling roses ramble. They grew wild and snarled, like the brambles covering Sleeping Beauty’s castle. As of late July, they looked like this:

roses covering the car port

For years, they’ve grown into my poems, as all that bloom and cane was becoming the yard, green growing over the a thicket of dead cane and thorn. For years, I tried trimming all that old growth out.

Then I realized that even if, decades later, I were successful, in the meantime, the roses were overflowing, and they would still take up more and more room.

My daughter was looking for a project and wanting to grow vegetables. I explained that the roses were blocking necessary sunlight—and thus, a landscape revision was born.

Here’s what it looks like now.

garden without roses

I’d say Before and After, but the photo above is more like During.

My daughter said she had thought of this as a secret garden, and now she was uncovering some of its secrets—like the wall plaques that have been hidden for years. But gone is the Paul’s Himalayan Musk that I brought from the old house, and the California Plena, which started as a sucker from a friend’s bush, just a stick in the dirt, and the climbing Cecile Brunner. I’ll miss it’s pale pink blooms in early spring. We will plant some smaller, tamer roses—maybe in time for next spring. Then we’ll take the After photo.

For now, I am in this negative capability, this uncertainty of what the yard will become, what together we decide to make of it. It’s hard to see the end of something, even if I know it had overgrown desperately. It’s hard to imagine the next thing before it has started. And this, I’ve heard, is where poems happen.

Gratitude, in the clear

Green tomatoes
The Early Girls star the party in Seattle. I've only got a few green tomatoes so far, but it's exciting!

I’m thankful for this Easter egg blue sky and for summer. Life at its simplest–in a good way.

And I feel a little bad, knowing about the intense heat, humidity, and drought that many others have faced.

But we spent June in the gray drizzle doldrums. I figure I’ve been cold since last September.

Now, it feels good to be outside. I’m thankful I could put in some time weeding this week. The yard’s still a mess–but I know it’s less of a mess. I’m thankful for the weeds, because they give me this great reason to be outside and not doing something else, like scrubbing the bathroom floor.

I’m thankful I also had some time to read and write and revise poems.

Scarlet runner beans
And how about those beans? The scarlet runners are growing!
Roses on the car port roof
Summer brings the killer roses. It encourages them. But look at that sky!

Open the door. Open my heart.

Gratitude, a lot and green

Small tomato patchGratitude covers the plural, I learned this week. Apparently, you can’t add an s. You aren’t supposed to have a handful or a bushel of gratitudes. Just one.

This week, I’m thankful my son had work yesterday and today. Hooray for him! (That could be a bushel.)

I’m thankful our friends–old and new–stopped over for the night and we had plenty of time to visit this morning. And thank you, Tom, for making a delicious breakfast for us (plus Champagne).

Bloom on one of the Early Girl tomato plantsI’m thankful I could sneak out today and buy some tomato plants and plant them during a brief dry patch on this spitting, drizzling Sunday. The store was sold out of Sweet Millions, so I’m going with a color scheme–red Early Girls, a red pear tomato plant, a Black Prince (!), and an Orange Blossom tomato. Will I have any tomatoes to eat? It’s always an experiment, but planting is the first step.

And the strawberries are already showing a few green berries forming amid the surf of white blossoms.

I’m thankful for the splendid run of sun we had up until now, for the chance to start the days journaling in view of sunlight on the wall of killer roses, where the Cecile Brunner is showing more and more pink buds.

I’m thankful for any energy I have. Work has been a longer, harder haul lately–and sometimes it’s tough to get out of bed (oh, gravity!) and go to the gym and catch the bus across the lake. But I’ve been able to do it, and I’m thankful for that.

Finally, I’m thankful for these lines, which have inspired me this past week:

… God knows,
the way night moves its shoes from side to side

–Oliver de la Paz, “Aubade with a book and the Rattle from a String of Pearls” in Furious Lullaby

Yes! I want to write like that.

Open the door.