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Monday, November 30, 2009


Domestication of a Garden

Surrounded and Safe
trapped and shut off;
mind controls freedom.

Plants not eaten.
Entrance controlled.
Cozy inside.
Intriguing from without.

Inside or Outside
what was Same
now is Different.

Fields and woods beware! The garden is being taken from you as slowly yet deliberately the fence becomes a reality.  But now, only her bones have begun emerging from holes dug by man and machine.

Saturday and Sunday brought rapid change to the garden perimeter. With post-hole digger, both man-powered and mechanical, post holes were dug into the earth surrounding the garden. Measurements were taken, then lines laid, measurements taken again, angles changed, then tiny markers inserted to mark the center of each hole.  Once the centers were marked and viewed form all directions it was time to drill the holes.  The post-hole digger had already been attached to the tractor. Now it was lined up directly over the marker. This is not so easy as it sounds.  The tracter is backed up a couple inches, pulled forward an inch and reversed again.  All this is done while the human controller is twisting backward in the tracter seat while holding steady a lever which tilts the actual drill.

Once the drill is lined up, it is dropped, to split sod, spinning 'round as it goes deeper, lifting earth above it. Soil that has been buried for eons, since before humans walked above, has now been raised up to be touched by light. Work that was once only done by worms or spade has been quickened by burning gasoline.  In one afternoon, eleven holes are dug, cleaned out and filled with walnut posts. 

Jeff begun with laying the massive posts of the arbor entrance. He then continued by placing posts from the arbor to the gate then on to beyond the spruce trees that define the back edge of my garden. A path has already been cleared along our property line behind the norway and red and Red Spruce planted 25 years ago when they dug up from a friend's Christmas tree farm.

Back then, when the trees were still small, We mowed the area behind them weekly.  My sister planted daffodils back there.  During family reunions, the place drew the men to toss horseshoes. Gradually, though, the honeysuckle and Virginia creeper claimed the ground as their own, protecting seedlings of the paw paws and sumac which soon filled the space.  Today, the spruces tower far above us, gently extending a finger to touch the sky. Underneath, the towhee scratches the ground, throwing needles behind as it searches for bugs. The evergreens are home to cardinals and hummingbirds who nestle among their green needles which absorb heat throughout the day, releasing it slowly all night.  The deer have absorbed their own energy from the needles in the form of nourishing vitamin C.  I, too, have received nourishment from these now mighty spruces.  When I gaze upon them in summer their calm darkness is a needed contrast to the glaring sun of mid-day.  In the winter they are a welcome touch of green on an otherwise gray world.  When winter's snow blankets the branches, the garden looks like a Christmas scene, alive with spots of red as cardinals flit in and out of the trees.

The birds will not notice the confinement of the new fence.  For them, it will mean more freedom of choice.  The posts will offer the choice of many different perches.  In my mind I already see a bluebird setting atop a walnut post as it patiently searchs out a tasty bug. Perhaps the fence will not only protect the garden from the whitetail, but will even help keep the bugs under control as bluebirds, as well as kinglets and phoebes patrol the perimeter.

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