I drink tea. This is my teaspoon rest, but after a couple of days not being rinsed off--this guy appeared! I couldn't ignore the fact that my teaspoon stains looked like a cartoon character, perhaps Groucho Marx. It just goes to show that sometimes art just happens, characters just insist on being created--out of tea, words . . . whatever! So, keep a lookout for any unintentional art that may be sitting in plain sight around you:)
A few weeks ago I was out raking. It was a beautiful, surprisingly mild, fall day and I was happy to have an excuse to get out into nature. Aside from raking leaves into a pile for kids to jump into, I take more of a "leave it alone" (pun intended?) fall clean-up stance. After all, letting leaves sit over the winter is vital to the life cycle of so many insects, a food source for birds, as well as a cheap and easy insulation for my plants. These compelling arguments for letting go of that rake conveniently appeal to my lazy side. I long to hibernate for the winter.
But, I put off hibernating for one more day to bask in the sun, rake in hand, clearing the sidewalk and driveway to ease pedestrian passage. Anybody who happened to see me in action that day surely wondered, "Why is that crazy lady raking leaves off of the sidewalk and into her yard?" Yes, no bagging or Dr. Seuss vacuum cleaner required, just into the garden they go. This menial task gave me a closer look at the trees and plants nearby. That's the magic of nature--it helps me focus and offers endless avenues for contemplation.
Being mid-November, the garden was almost completely under the sleeping spell of winter. I began to notice how so many of the "bad" things are illuminated when everything else starts to die away around them. Creeping Charlie was green and going strong and a person could lose a whole day pulling at its never ending stems that snake through the garden and pool around my plants. Whatever that other creeping vine was (Virginia Creeper?) had turned a brilliant red and looked magnificent . . . but it's a bully to all the plants it strangles out and tramples over during the growing season.
Then I saw my clematis vine looking all withered and worn out compared to something strong and green growing right up beside it--a weed easily hidden in the growing season. It was one of those tall weeds that are yellow with the fluffy seed heads that spread everywhere when you try to pull it out of the ground. It's like the awkward, lanky cousin of the dandelion called Sowthistle (a name I found thanks to a quick look-up on the 'puter). Add to that Common Burdock, one of my top arch nemeses of the garden. Dun, dun, dun-n-n-n-n--
That infuriating plant goes through various stages of big, wide, fuzzy leaves growing low to the ground--thick taproot like a giant parsnip that never comes out in one piece. A year or two later, that very same plant switches identities and grows into a high, sprawling beast culminating in a crescendo of horrible, sticky burrs that cling to anything passing by it--especially clothing. Ugh.
As a gardener, I am very well aware that weeds are in the eye of the beholder, though there are some plants that the vast majority can agree cause real harm when left unchecked. Wisteria--I'm talking to you!
It did strike me in that moment how the garden can be such a poetic meditation on life. That fall day in particular, when I went outside with the fallen leaves coating the ground and everything once-cheerful now void of life, I realized that all the things I worked so hard to keep out of my garden were the only things that were still alive.
Death remains the great illuminator.