Sunday, April 26, 2009

FIELD NOTES: Ticket not required...

Through the window

...but the birdsong is so amazing this morning, it seems like it ought to be. The eighties are much too hot for April in New England - early morning and all the windows open from the night before. A lumbering breeze tries to stir the indoor air as I try to smooth out the night from my face and hair in the bathroom mirror – not an easy task as I’ve just recovered from my first stomach ‘bug’ in about ten years. But the cardinal is as brilliant as a soprano at the Met and the other small birds in chorus add their melodious backup with verve, as well as the raucous crows that try out like high school ne’er-do-wells who think Chorus will be less boring than Study Hall. Birdsong trampolines my soul…rebounding whatever is weighing it down to airy heights…over and over and over. Good thing no one is listening as they’d be bored with how many times I utter words like…beautiful… gorgeous…amazing…alright already! This will be the most comfortable portion of the day…early morning is my favorite and I wish it would last all day, but then of course it wouldn’t be morning. But imagine having to have a ticket issued in order to hear morning birds or bells or chimes, to smell flowers or rain shower or fresh wash on the line, or view an amazing spider web or bird’s nest. Maybe it would cultivate a culture of new values; values for things not currently taxed, calculated, counted, packaged, adulterated, tested or hyped. As for me, I thank my feathered friends…well, maybe just not the woodpecker jack hammering my cedar shakes!

My Life in Birds (a winter story) short PDF

Friday, April 17, 2009

FIELD NOTES: I have a compost bin...

Not your usual TGIF (the end of Spring Break)

...of chicken wire and pressure-treated wood at the side of the shade garden where red worms (the good ones for composts) are free to come and digest…banana peels, melon rinds, wilted lettuce, eggshells, coffee grounds…I flip over a season’s worth of dirt and organic scraps from the left side, sift it through the homemade screen into the storage barrel and toss what’s left (usually the last scraps added before a hard freeze) back into the right side of the bin. Left, right, left, right, lift, sift, toss…it is repetitive, physical labor, but out in the new spring air, one of my first…and most satisfying and meditative…outdoor chores. I love jumping right into the bin and filling my shoes and cuffs as I work. To gardeners, this is real ‘black gold’. I will churn it in the vegetable garden or fertilize the plants with compost tea. My father made the compost bin for me when we bought our little house fifteen years ago…and it’s still holding up…it’s still returning to the earth what belongs to the earth, and turning plain, old dirt into beautiful soil. I have a compost bin…

I have discovered there are about as many different ways to make a compost as there are to make meatloaf - and you can't screw it up! Email or leave a comment if you have any questions about simple - and free - backyard composting - I'm not an expert, but I've made plenty of mistakes!

Here are some links - when I find more I like, I'll add to the list:

Tips for the Lazy Gardener
Better Connecticut urban compost video

Thursday, April 16, 2009

FIELD NOTES: Amethyst stands in the seed aisle next to me…

a Spring Break afternoon

...and she wants all the flower seeds, but her mother tells her that they don’t have all the different kind of suns in their yard. I only know her name because her mother sings it. I think it is a beautiful name. It means stability, peace, balance, courage, inner strength, sincerity and a calm disposition and I always wished that the February birthstone were mine because I loved purple when I was Amethyst’s age. I want to tell her mother to go ahead, let her buy all the seeds you can afford, don’t discourage for one bit this enthusiastic little gardener. She could be a Miss Rumphius. But Amethyst is content to joyfully skip away after her mother…a picture perfect pair…I choose sunflowers, large bottle gourds and Kentucky Wonder beans, then with a smile, I move on to pick out garden gloves and quick-release hose connectors. Everyone in the store seems giddy with the coming of spring…especially Amethyst!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

FIELD NOTES: Less talk...

...more walk.

...I am spellbound by the colors on the water…so much so that after my walk in Harrybrooke, I drive back home to get my camera, and return, even though I know I am a mediocre photographer even in digital terms. I keep shooting and shooting and shooting, but none does justice in interpreting what my eye can see…and in that moment, I have a deeper, and more personal, understanding of the impressionists. I am Monet, I am Cezanne, I am Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Cassatt and even beyond to Van Gogh and Gauguin…because I have their eyes…