spring, the garden

Another fine morning here, contrary to the weatherman and all that nonsense about April being cruel. We had good rain through the night, sorely needed and things are green, plumped up a little. Birdsong, everything. It’s private enough I can step out of the sun room in the morning and have my coffee without combing. The forsythia’s out, raggedy yellow.

Every time there’s lightning and a power outage all the wireless modems go down. My hijack software’s scanning away for signals valiantly to no avail. Wireless internet takes me back to being curled up in bed trying to track short wave stations.

Helen, the mother of all sorrows, had three good busy days, up and at it, got her hair done, some deliveries made to second hand stores, sickroom visits, but she’s not raised her curly head yet today. Tired out. She has a trip planned to a family gathering tomorrow so she’ll be shoring up her resources.

I always know when we’re in recession when there are one or two news features about how now is the time to invest in art or gold. About a month later it’s always time to pick up lost properties and set them up as rental units for people who lost their homes. Gas prices rising and food shortages to follow. Now’s the time to paint for pleasure if at all, certainly.

I worked away last night taking the water gun damage off this commission and it looks better than it did for the extra time. A rundown church building against a close backdrop of modern high rises, in late spring with garbage strewn in grey half melted snow… not the cheeriest subject matter, and drab coloured, and I don’t think the buyer wants it prettied up so any beauties are in the subtlety of greys and the application of the paint. Brick daub after brick shorthand daub. Twisted branch upon twisted branch receding.

Just up to visit helen, who is worried about bugs today and bemoaning the violence of the storm last night… it just went on and on… timorous and relishing natural disaster. Checking out the trailer parks on tv.

I’m going to practice some guitar fingering now to keep my hands limber… she does inspire me to keep limber wringing her arthritic fingers over the warming fire of her broods’ sexual activities, or ladybugs that get under the plastic, into the house. I try to get in a bit of practice each morning here, and then it’s back to righting the plough man’s wrongs.He sure did tear up the topsoil. Someone has overturned the glass castle in the fishbowl and every time the little fish circles the bowl it notices for the first time, and feels the horror, the horror. Helen sheds tears of equal value for the broken tea cup and the trailer overturned. It’s all the same release.

The garden’s working its power over me, whatever that is. The tough things have survived neglect through five years, have multiplied. Iris abound, the small dark purple ones native here but rare now for their lack of tropic import flare and ruffles. The wild geranium sturdy on a very lizard like stalk… that came from a farm rented fifteen years ago. Tansy, ruthless, rampant, and a little regretted, but good for keeping out ants. Lupin seed from Toronto. Wild rose and cow parsnip from the farm in at Hybla. The prize this year are my illegally transported Jacks in their pulpits. which should bloom by Monday. They’ve reverted to purple from the rare white that caught my eye. Grandma’s snow on the mountain.

Bert laid the patio stones here before he realized his shoulder pain was more than too much typing and I remember we spent one summer with me doing the gardening while he watched silently and sadly, finishing a novel, not letting on he knew it was over. Even the pair of drab, mourning doves are back from that year. They might have been drawn by Picasso in his state of classical grace right there this morning in the gravel of the side yard drive, They make that low sound of breath over the mouth of a coke bottle and they never seem to finish their piece of sadness. Pre-mourning little bastards. Gad. I’m bad as Helen, finding some sad association to provide a little melodrama. God he hated that.

But an old garden, without a sentimental feeling of its own’ll provide a steady context, a literary device, for a family of tenders , a “survival of the fittest” background for all our toils and bliss and sorrow. We have these sturdy native plants that outlast exotic imports and ourselves and nieces with green thumbs and eagerness to learn the providence of old plantings. The same brutal deadheading twist of a wrist her grandmother had, and her kid swings his arm as he saunters just like bullheaded grandma too. This little old garden, nothing fancy, provides a context too for the guard of my own hardheartedness, my growing misanthropy, my weariness with the sorrows of the plunderers and our late, paltry consciousnesses of our carbon footprints, which we trace out like a child does his hand to tape on the fridge like art for a reminder.

Sweet hot air with the last of the snow an occasional chill wraith in it. If you walked up in the hills and peered into a rock crevice, an old uranium or feldspar mine shaft, you’d smell the ice unmelted down deep in it, when you leaned over it with your back sunburnt already. Pine needle carpet the colour of your own brown skin. It’ll do. It’ll do.

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