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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Day Leaves Darkness Behind

The call of Red-bellied wood peckers pierce the morning
As the focal sphere pierces the dawn,
fighting obliteration by clouds promising a shower.

The clouds give way allowing the sun to blind and bathe me.
Even as drops of water
compete with the light for a spot on the grass.
I hear the drops but as yet only feel the sun.

The birds, too, ignore the tapping rain
calling to each other;
The raspy nagging of the titmouse,
The distant caw of my friends, the crows,
and the closer deep squeak of the nuthatch
as it heads downward on the dark trunk of a lichen-covered oak.

This morning I knew I needed to hurry if I wanted to beat the rain, so I dressed quickly, grabbed a couple cameras, and a chair then almost sprinted up the small hill in the field arriving just in time to welcome the sun.

Setting my chair beside the small impression where, beneath several feet of dirt, lay Peach, eternally sleeping on her flannel-covered dog bed surrounded by her toys and stuffed animals, I relaxed knowing good things would follow. 

I thought of Peach, a long lost friend, who gained her name when I misunderstood my daughter as she tried to call the new puppy "Petrie." The name fit her though, for soft and sweet she was, lounging by the side of her family as only a hound can do.  That relaxed, body would stretch the length of a bed, hiding the potential energy which easily could outrace a car or my husband chasing her after planning to lock her in the house while we attempted a family outing, leaving her behind.

Many mornings I had sat at this very spot with Peach leaning against my thigh as we watched the world together. 

This morning, once the sun had blazenly risen, then retreated behind the gray clouds, I walked back to the house through the garden. Though we have had several frosts, and even a hard freeze, the cold has been followed by several weeks of warm nights and sunny days.  My garden is attempting to defy the shortening days.  There is new growth everywhere.  Japanese painted ferns have resprouted, perhaps drawing heat from the rock which serves as a backdrop to their fall showing of silver, green and maroon. I welcomed them as I would welcome an unexpected guest on a dreary morning.

Even the banana trees speared their way through a mulching of leaves. I cut them down three weeks ago fully expecting the trees to go dormant.  I wish now that I had protected them from the freezing temperature, allowing the tropical plant to mature a bit longer.  I see my friend, Melonie, in Georgia, has cut fruit from her banana trees this year.  If the warming trend continues a few more years, perhaps we'll even have some bananas in the mid Ohio valley.  
I love these banana trees. It is because they are so incongruous here in West Virginia.  They found their way into the garden a few years ago when my mother and I visited The Glass House Works in Stuart, Ohio.  The Glass House Works is a nursery that sends unusual plants  to other nursuries all over the world.  Through the years I have visited it frequently gleaning ideas and plants. At one time the owners had a very ambitious Japanese style garden situated between two old homes. By Japanese, I don't mean the Zen, minimalist style garden.  No, this garden was full of plants.  It was shaped by the idea that every inch should be occupied by planned growth. Every nook and crannie had a plant wedged in. Paths led us across bridges, around small ponds and to dead ends that were anything but dead.  The wonderful messy-ness whelmed with growth.  I was inspired.  My own garden plans were reinvigorated. 

It was on one of these visits that a worker introduced me to a variety of hardy banana tree that the owner had discovered.  They had two small plants for sale for $10.00 each. I took one with instructions to be sure to mulch thickly each winter then keep watch in the spring.  That first spring, about five years ago, rewarded me with a banana tree that grew about 10 feet tall and even multipled.  Since then every summer brings more trees.  This spring I transplanted one to a mowed sunny spot  out in the woods.  Hopefully, next year visitors may be surprised as they walk the wooded path then come upon a bit of the tropics.  I'll let you know what happens.

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