Sunday, June 21, 2009


Twice now I have run from the house to chase deer out of the garden. The last time I got very close--her eyes were more stupid than startled as I shouted and clapped my hands. She had a bit of green lettuce hanging from her mouth, and I chased her through the garden twice before she took to the sidewalk and other less noisy yards. I try to look big and make as much noise as possible when I fuss at the deer, but they don't take it to heart. We have fenced in the tomatoes to protect them, although I doubt that it will trouble the deer much. They are solid and hungry and I think it may take more than chicken wire and tin pans to change their minds.

It has been raining daily for what feels like weeks and Mom warns me that I need to check the cabbages because this is the kind of weather that makes them split. Apparently if they split they must be eaten right away. I'm not quite sure I see the worry of this but her voice was very serious as she said it, so twice a day I check my cabbages for cracks. This also gives me a chance to pick the cabbage worms from them and the broccoli. Twice now I have watched a wasp wiggle its way out of the heart of a cabbage with a worm in its mandibles, and each time it has made me happy that we have chosen worm holes over pesticides. The garden needs weeding but the constant rain has made it too muddy, so I pull what I can from the sides. I had forgotten about this weather--days that start hot before the sun even rises. Walking feels like moving through warm damp velvet, and then out of nowhere the sky goes black and it rains like a bucket being emptied. It's shocking how quickly the warm air peels open to cool shards of rain. This is when you open windows on the lee side of the house and sit on the porch tracking the storm's progress by the nearing and then receding lighting and thunder. When I was little we would put on bathing suits and play in the street until the thunder and lightening were almost simultaneous and the storm was directly overhead. Then our parents would make use retreat to the safety of our house and the lightening rod on the roof. Then it is over, the storm gone as quickly as it came. The garden ticks and glows green as the sun returns, the corn straitens up and it all grows, grows.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Berry Picking

We have mulberry trees at the edges of our yard and I have spent the last few days on a ladder. They aren’t our trees--the trunks touch down in the neighbor’s ground--but the branches lean across into our yard and I seem to be the only person interested. I only feel concern about stealing from the birds that have built their nest in the top branches. Sometimes I pick the berries one by one, other times I hold my basket under a branch and trouble the clustered berries with my fingers until they fall. Mulberries are good at falling. When they are ripe they tumble away from your hand just as you reach for them. Sometimes I am masterful and twist perfectly, picking just one berry without shaking the branch and knocking them all to the ground. Other times I hear the plink of lost berries falling against my ladder. I work from the bottom up, first standing in the grass and staining my feet on the fallen berries. I always think I’ve picked all the ripe ones on a branch, but when I climb the ladder and look down, I see whole handfuls that I’ve missed. Berry picking can’t be rushed so there is plenty of time to think, considering the jam making potential of the berries, nonsense thoughts about silk worms and paper scrolls, humming a horrible country song that was on the radio when I was in high school.... It doesn’t much matter. My head is hidden in the branches and this makes me think that no one can see me, that I have disappeared from the world and all that matters is fingers to berry, berry to basket. I will save some of the berries from the jam making and bake this cake to welcome Brad home.