Saturday, February 16, 2008

nostalgia for green

I thought of green and gardening today. The landscape out my window is a blanket of white. The dusk is descending. There's not a trace of purple in the sky from the setting sun, just a uniform gray. Summertime, angel of the morning sits atop the big-leafed Ligularia. It looks like giant rhubarb, and I mean giant. Angel of the morning was a bargain bin discard I found for $1.99, regular price 29.99. She sits by the water, protecting the birds that come for a drink. Calm and still.

I found this circle of bark from a birch tree once on a hike up the trail at the border. It was a perfect round. I dusted it off for ants and other bitty bugs and critters, then carried it home. I plunked a potted geranium inside it. Red is a must for me in the garden. Placed the pot on a sawed off trunk I scavenged from by McVicar's Creek. An old elm fell over and was chopped up, ready for the chipper. I commandeered son #2 to drive down there and go get one for me. Now, it's a tabletop where I lay peanuts. Crow and squirrel and blue jay steal in, trying to outsmart each other to get them. You can see Lily in the background.

Lily is the girl I found at Steve's on Bay, which no longer exists. Steve's on Bay was a tiny second hand shop of very odd odds n' ends, owned by an elderly fellow named Steve. He once tried to sell me a box full of lids to sugar bowls. No bowls, just the lids. I said, looking into the box, these are real pretty, but I can't use them. He told me a lot of stories about the 30s and 40s in Port Arthur. Who owned what shop, where, and what year. Who they sold it to. Where to get Red Indian Motor Oil. Where the shoe shop was. The milliner's. The Italian green grocers. Lily has perfect lily of the valley leaves as an overlay on her ivory skirt. I immediately placed her by the lily of the valley. A couple of blue forget-me-nots jumped up to greet her.

By the log under the false spirea that drives me crazy, a little cherub sits eternally pouring water out for passing by birds. Again, out of the bargain bin. All day long birds visit. I saw the neighbour's cat there one morning, lying like a fat furry pillow, lapping away. Crow, too, saunters like a general, side to side, stepping up to imbibe. Sometimes the pine siskins fly through the spray, squealing and squeaking. Once, I found a drowned mole in the water. She looked just like one of The Mole Sisters.

Piha ja santta. Yard and shed. The bench Isa made for me. He's not here anymore to sit with me and enjoy the sound of the water trickling, the sight of the birds bathing, or the hummingbird whirring in for a surprise visit at 6:30. Even if he were alive, he wouldn't sit on the bench. That I know. He'd be busy building another bench, or something else out of wood. He'd have made the sauna of my dreams in my basement, for sure.

Old pine sauna bucket with petunias. Isa bought it for me, when I used to have a sauna. It has sprung a leak and I've no longer a sauna after we moved to this 100 yr old house, so, out into the yard it goes.

Mom! pretty soon the yard's gonna look like some sort of tacky doo-dad junk yard! said son #1.

In the sauna, before filling the bucket with water, you place a stone in the bottom, then pile on birch leaves, cedar leaves, a sprig of Labrador tea, a spray of blueberry stalks. Your own personal healing bundle. Petunias are particularly healing ~ in the yard ~ yet I always resisted buying petunias. Why? Too common. Everyone had them. A dime a dozen. Here a petunia, there a petunia. Well, last spring, I saw these friendly purple and white petunias calling out to me. So, I brought them home. As they stayed and stayed with me over the summer and grew more and more brilliant in their colour and their intensity, I knew, I just knew why everyone buys petunias. They are undying summer hope.

This nostalgia for green was inspired by visiting the TBay gardening blog. Oh, for summer! I've so many flower friends calling!


Jody said...

Your garden is absoulutely stunning! I grew up farther south and now living in N MN so many of the flowers I'm used to growing won't grow here. One day I will find the time to make my space a beautiful sanctuary just like yours. You are a beautiful writer, my Mom grew up in Thunder Bay and I remember her talking about some of the places in your posts. And I always love the sleeping giant lurking in the background of your photo's.

northshorewoman said...

thank you, Jody, you are generous in your praise. My garden is really an ongoing engagement with plants, the sun, and the soil, one that I often feel I am losing! I've only been flower gardening since moving to this old house. The gardens here had been badly neglected; indeed, hidden underneath a tangle of weeds and grass and lady's bells. I salvaged some and have put in a few. Made mistakes along the way. Hope you get to visit up this way! If you do, look me up!