Thursday, August 10, 2006

Because They Don’t Know The Words

It being Summer, the garden is taking up much more of my headspace than the actual time we spend gardening would seem to warrant. This extends to the kitchen (where I spend much of my time) by way of the unexpected success of our lettuces, strawberries, and herbs, as well as our continually-astonishing tomatoes.

Add to this our involvement with a community-supported agricultural project, and our successful (to the tune of two pecks) recent foraging expeditions, and you can see the intersection of cookery and biometrics. When I’m assembling a borscht of CSA beets, CSA potatoes, and CSA onions, I’m not just thinking about seasonings and cooking times—I’m thinking about soil and rainfall and drainage, about grades and sunshine.

And about visitors. Because the thing about a garden is that it becomes a haven. It draws life. Ants crawl up the sticky stems of the peonies and into the sweet petals, while Japanese beetles clusterfuck on the rosebushes, stacked one atop the other in fornicatory piles four or five high.


Liveliest of all are the hollyhocks, which have reached a truly ridiculous size. Here they are about six weeks ago, when they just came up to the top of my head (small child included for scale). They’re perhaps two feet taller than that now, though it’s hard to tell because they’ve started listing badly under their own weight:


These monsters are a free-association trigger par excellence. I cannot look at hollyhocks without thinking of Lone Wolf and Cub, and I can’t look at any plant this big without thinking of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. What really tickles me, though, is how this gargantua has become a sort of one-stop shop for various little creatures. Fat placid bumblebees crawl laboriously in and out the blooms, dusted ghostily with pollen. Beetles turn the lower leaves, leaves as big as your hand, into green doilies. And least expected of all, showing up long enough and often enough to capture photographic evidence (albeit crappy):


Body no longer than my thumb, wings a low transparent buzz, hovering as if looking for a pin’s head on which to dance—and me at the window, feeling like I’d witnessed some kind of miracle.

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