Saturday, October 16, 2010

Do trees have a sense of humor?

MessageThis eastern cottonwood is devoid of leaves now except for the very top. It reminds me of a new style haircut where they head is shaven along the sides, with only a mop above. I have to smile each time I notice this tree out there with its top fringe flagging in the breeze.

I love trees; perhaps mostly for their perseverance. I've seen them growing out of seemingly solid blocks of rock along the eastern Appalachians; clinging to mountain pinnacles high in the Sierras of California, stunted by wind and weather, yet living. In the deep, dark forests of Northern Maine small pines grew like blades of grass under the shadow of their forebears. Most can not survive the competition for sun and space, yet they make the effort because they're trees.

I have made my bed at night, under the thick intertwining branches of pines. I know that if a storm comes, the pines will provide the best protection as they shed rain off their densely packed needles and layers of branches.

It was probably 10 years ago I came here and found that cottonwood struggling. It was small then (cottonwoods grow fast), and overshadowed by a dense growth of autumn olive bushes. The little tree reached out at an angle, around the bushes, wanting more of the sunlight. I cut the brush and dug out the extensive network of roots to give the tree its freedom. It rewards us today with its beauty. You might notice in the photo, near the bottom where the trunk curves somewhat. That's the reach around the autumn olive 10 years back.

I've planted trees on this 3 acres of home, and will continue to do so long as I am able, for their represent to me a continuity of the land, and we are the land.

If I could only be a tree.

by Jim

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happiness is!

Happiness is the sun shining through the trees on a misty morning that promises us anything's possible, as long as we believe.Happiness is all the firewood we'll need for this winter, stacked against the newly resided garage and covered, ready for warm toes, and long relaxing conversations-all winter long.Happiness is-this corner of the farm, where there used to be scrub and thorns, now carefully planned, planted, pruned and tended until this patch of sunlight lays on it like a note of grace in our own beautiful world.Happiness is green and growing things in the greenhouse. This year we're extending the season with all kinds of herbs and veggies in a grand experiment all our own. Such good things there to bring a taste of summer goodness to our wintertime meals.Happiness is this crazy upside-down grape tomato plant that had already given up the ghost outside and is now bearing like crazy inside the greenhouse where we can watch it from the living room window. It's even reblooming! Happiness is the blush of red leaves on the blueberries as they pull into themselves to rest for the winter season.Happiness is one perfect red sassafras leaf among the yellow maple leaves. And Happiness is this exuberant yellow tree on the path through the woods, celebrating fall in silent glory, all by itself until I was lucky enough to wander by and share in the joy. Life is very good these days.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lessons Learned from the Garden

Lesson 1-The tiny pumpkins that never grew to their full size are just fine when you see them together with our tiny grandson—they fit just right!

Lesson 2-It’s not necessarily a bad thing when a groundhog comes to snack on your garden.

We grew Scarlet Runner Beans this year and they took over the fence. Grew so plentiful that they were bending over the fence. The groundhog that lives under the woodpile took a liking to the bean leaves and carefully pruned them back for us. Caused the beans to rebloom and the fence is fine! We didn’t mind sharing at all.

Lesson 3-Sometimes you need to think about the outcome BEFORE you plant the seeds. Amaranth sounded like a marvelous experiment, who knew it’d grow 8 feet tall, and so heavy it waved around like a club in the wind, beating up other plants.

Now that I’ve harvested the seed heads and hung them upside down, hoping the seeds will fallout into the bin—I realize that I have no idea how to cook and serve the seeds. Hmmm, maybe this wasn’t such a great idea?And last, Lesson number 4-Cucumbers sometimes grow in the strangest places. I swear, this grew all by itself, right there! I love gardening. I never know what’s going to happen next.