Deceitful Vegetables

July 14, 2010

This morning, I watched a robin splash in the pond and then perch on the fence to groom herself. It was like watching Eliza get ready for the day.

The robin sat down ruffled, fluffed, feathers all askew – a real mess. Then she dried herself off by moving her wings and tail in a way that’s almost impossible to describe. It certainly wasn’t flapping. It was more like a vibration, but not really. Kind of like twitching, but much faster and more vigorous. Flutter is too gentle, because it was really a powerful movement. I think agitate comes close; quiver is much too timid.

I digress!

After she was dry, she preened and smoothed her feathers and arranged her wings and stroked that red breast until she was pretty as a picture. And then, much to my surprise, she dove right back into the pond.

Yesterday, the stargazer lilies that we purchased at the Chicago Flower show burst into bloom. They are deep pink, a lipstick kind of color, and have the strangest little splinters of pink growing from the sepals. The stamens dangle like earrings and bob and dance. Tony looked at them and said “We did good.” They are stunning; bright, majestic and real show pieces in the garden. They face my office window, so I am enjoying them all day.

The hibiscus is blooming too. Big dinner-plate size flowers, almost white but with a blush, a hint, a touch of the palest pink. They are thin like tissue paper and flap in the breeze. The dianthus I transplanted is still not happy in its new spot, but it didn’t like the old spot either. The new ones in front aren’t blooming either – I think this is a “wait until next year” situation.

The lily of the valley are setting big fat seeds, green and round and earthy. I found a spider’s web between hosta stalks and saw her path of destruction – a line of sedated and webbed insects that she’ll eat at her leisure. I thought of Bilbo Baggins and his friends all bobbing in a line, captured by the giant Spider. We need a Sting here – or do we? Isn’t she entitled to eat too? And if those are all mosquitos in her web, I’m good with that.

The liatris gets more mop-headed by the day and the coneflowers just keep blooming. The grasses cannot be appreciated or understood in photographs. The pampas grass is sharp and seems to fountain out of the ground. It rustles and whispers and rattles – covered with tiny sharp hairs. It is an experience of sight and sound and touch – it cannot be captured in a photograph.

But I tried anyway.

There was a Red Admiral butterfly in the garden that I believe was auditioning for a modeling career. For 26 photographs, it stayed on the same small group of flowers, gently opening and closing its wings, turning to different angles, seeming to pose for me in all different positions. When I finally reached saturation point and moved on to the milkweed, it actually followed me, like it was still eager to be photographed. Either that or my hair smelled good.

If you stand under the arbor now, you can smell honey.

The monardia (bee balm) continues to bloom, making the transplanting transition successfully. The phlox has lost its mojo. The watermelon grows and more form along the vine every day now – I can see them and notice them. Dominic finally noticed the panty hose and was confused.

The purple runner beans are ready for harvest, so we had a batch last night. I was really geeked about them, as I picked the biggest and nicest purple beans and put them in a pot with regular green beans, thinking of how pretty that mix of greenn and purple would look on our dinner plates. Put water in the pot, put the lid on and lit the stove. Minutes later, when I drained them into a colander, I was so so so disappointed. All the purple had simmered out of the beans, leaving them just as green as the regular beans. And I’m finding there is no way to mitigate this unless we eat them raw.

I am so disappointed. I feel betrayed by these beans, all the anticipation for naught, all the careful watching useless. Those beans lied to me.

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