Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rodent Rodeo

He springs from the chute, like a shot,
gallops like a barrel horse toward the knothole,
canters to the west branch, where he scrambles
into the turn. The bushy tree rat soon emerges,
weaving over, and under, and around,
loping to the straightaway, his feet barely touch.
Oblivious to gravity, he dives fearlessly down
the south slope, and leaps to the ground,
passes the corn cob bait - and with black-oil seeds
beckoning - he makes a final dash to the bird feeder.
He shimmies, undeterred now, up the greased pole,
slathered with Crisco, steps nimbly over the baffle,
installed to prevent such pesky raiders, and glides
to the finish line. The cheeky rodent swishes
his tail, like a victory wave, munches seeds
in tiny paw hands, claims his rodeo prize.
I never saw him break a sweat. Then, cross-my-heart,
hope-to-die - I swear, the little buckaroo winked at me,
as I hung up the dishtowel.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Gatekeeper

I tiptoe to my garden gate
in the dim early light,
to escape to my seat
near the sheltering lilacs.
I am the gatekeeper.
I've come to hedge out
the blaring headlines of war,
the matter-of-fact voice
delivering every atrocity.
Here I linger, for the flutter
of tiny wings to the bird feeder,
where the song sparrows hang-glide
to the lawn, like toy parachutes,
and meld into the waves of
brown birds scouring seed
in the thick green turf. A
woodpecker's drumming heralds
the red queen's entrance to breakfast,
closely followed by her genteel king.
When I swat the mosquito
humming in my eardrum,
I startle a complacent toad
sitting in the rock garden,
warming his bones in the sun.

I retreat to that garden gate
in my mind, now and then,
and recall the innocence
of lilacs in tucked-away gardens,
where the common sparrow dines
with royalty, valiant knights
escort lovely ladies, where a
reptile may sunbathe unharmed.
The divine heartbeat resonates
in this quiet inner sanctum;
worry evaporates like morning dew,
as I evict the thieves of serenity.
For I am the gatekeepr,
and in this peaceful respite,
mosquito bite is the only threat
of bloodshed to be found.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Whine Making Season

I spent the afternoon in the sunshine in my garden. I could hear the soft calling of the turtledoves in the spruce tree that stands by the back gate. If I closed my eyes, I could pretend they were serenading me, as I bent to pick tomatoes, fresh lettuce and a gallon bucket full of strawberries. Then I tried to stand up straight, and my back really protested.

I have to admit that I am weary of tending the garden this year. Thankfully, there is much less to tend, since some of it has been cleaned up. But, I got to thinking, I planted the peas and onions in March, during a warm spell. No wonder I am really tired of it! I am ready for a break.

I'm glad the intensive gardening chores are only for a season. I'm glad I don't have to fight the weeds all year long. And sad to say, I hardly look at the containers full of petunias and geraniums, or the flowerbeds with their last burst of blooms before frost comes in the near future. I did notice a couple pink roses, as I was coming in the back door.

Isn't it ironic, how enthusiastic gardeners are in the spring to get their hands in the dirt, to get the seeds planted into the ground. We can hardly wait for the soil to warm up enough to make things sprout and grow. After a winter of looking at snow and gray landscape, we yearn for green. As Ecclesiastes states it so wisely, there is a time to sow.

Today, I was thinking how much wisdom there is to the seasons, how certain activities are equated with one season, and not with the others. After tending this vegetable garden all spring and summer, and the flower beds, the lawn and everything, I am very relieved that soon the need for this will pass until next year. I am thankful it is the time to harvest and to pick apples, etc.

So, I am determined to stop and smell those two rosebuds by the back door tomorrow morning, to check the last cantalope left to ripen, and to enjoy the butterflies on the zinnias and marigolds.

Oh, did mention that I saved some flower seeds for next spring? When the snow recedes next spring, the air warms and the birds return from the south, I will be ready to create my garden once again; my fingers will itch to plunge into the soil and to place those seeds into the warming ground. And every chance I have, I will walk along the string that marks the rows, and my eyes will seek the first wisp of green piercing the ground, and the connection between the seasons will continue from one year to the next, just as the Master designed it. And after a winter's rest, I will be good to go, again.