Sunday, November 8, 2009

FIELD NOTES: In pure New England style, there has been a reprieve…

Sunday: Before & After

…from the predicted rainy weekend and now I can take a swipe or two at those leaves that last weekend were doomed to overwinter on the lawn. At the stroke of 9:30, the first leaf blower has sounded in the neighborhood giving me the go-ahead to put on my work clothes and head out, although I will be quietly hand raking and then mulching the piles with the lawn mower. Never buy a house before you research its trees; dangerously old oaks with leaves as leathery and large as baseball mitts and the spindly locusts with confetti for leaves that will hang on nearly until new buds evict them do not respond very well to mulching. Oh for a stand of compliant primary colored maples! Mercifully, the entry on Lawns in Wikipedia has given me a place to lay blame for my love-hate relationship with lawn and leaf:

“In the United States, it was not until after the Civil War that lawns began to appear outside middle-class residences. Most people did not have the hired labor needed to cut a field of grass with scythes; average home owners either raised vegetables in their yards or left them alone. If weeds sprouted that was fine. Toward the end of the 19th century, suburbs appeared on the American scene, along with the sprinkler, greatly improved lawn mowers, new ideas about landscaping and a shorter workweek.”

...and towards the bottom of the entry, further explanation (and a long list) of the meaning of ‘maintenance’ in the ‘burbs:

“There is often heavy social pressure to mow one's lawn regularly and to keep up with the Joneses. Maintaining higher quality lawns may require special maintenance procedures:”

But I feel more like Pooh today, so perhaps I’ll rake a pile…and just jump right in!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

FIELD NOTES: It’s the morning after Halloween, yet I hear…

Through the window

…the clatter of little bicycle wheels in the circle…and sweetened giggles. Last night, even though it was oddly seventy degrees, the trick-or-treaters came early to beat the pouring rain and swelling wind. The lights went out prematurely. The weather forecast for the coming week classically mirrors my daughter’s in Seattle: partly cloudy, fifty…and then more rain for the weekend, so…it’s official: the leaves will prevail and overwinter on my lawn. So be it. Some gentle folks are beginning to mourn the season’s passing but, by my (Polish) nature, I gravitate toward the bittersweet, towards its mysteries and challenges. Even when I set out to be gloomy - because like Eeyore it is pleasantly self-indulgent to be so - inevitable sleep, or…a mug of coffee, or…a cup of tea, or…antics out the window, or…something…rallies me…which can be annoying if you’ve just gotten yourself into a good funk…and there is plenty to be funky about! As I write, a new wind - like a sharp-nailed witch’s hand - has just yanked the jack-o-lantern flag hanging out by the front door…and then…disappeared, as if to snidely remind me that it is not all honey in The Hundred Acre Wood, there are Heffalumps…and Woozles…and it is time to walk the plank…to bravely find deeply hidden beauty…

“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus, 1913-1960, French novelist, author and philosopher, 1957 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature

Optimism and Pessimism Quotes and Quotations