It's the last week of the semester, and I'm suffering my usual angst and guilt over being stuck in the house with a stack of papers to grade while the yard and gardens run amok, threatening to grow, vine, spread and cover beyond my control. We're eating the first asparagus, the gooseberries are loaded with tiny sour fruit, the apple and apricot trees are in full bloom, and Ray has begun the weekly pied-piper mowing, trailed by a flock of 16 peacocks in full mating dance. But the snow shovels are still leaning against the house in our bewilderment over this sudden spring.
Out here in the country, we have only the brief illusion of domestication - turn your back, and you'll have yarrow-ringed tulips and creeping Jenny climbing your pant legs. We've long since given up the fantasy of a manicured showplace acreage. Now we only try to stave off a complete takeover. Here's an old poem that sums up my more realistic gardening philosophy...
This is no English tea garden, pal.
No fragile limp fuscia
edged in periwinkle ruffles,
no meandering crocus border,
wisteria draped over a pale trellis,
no painted wrought-iron bench
resting in the thick, damp shade.
No thin ivy dipping its compact buds
in a moss-blue wading pool,
dotted with alabaster cherubs and
creamy-white water lilies.
No sir, this is serious prairie stock.
Drought-resistant bush beans,
sixty quarts worth,
squared off in rotten railroad ties.
Screaming red Big Girl tomatoes
strung to chicken wire
with old support hose.
Hot jalapeño peppers splitting
in a sudden mud-splattering downpour—
a brief storm that somewhere washes out
a delicate, orderly flower bed.