Pulling Out A Big Surprise

November 6, 2010

Shards of ice float on the pond today, tiny bergs to impale tiny Titanics. The ice lay across the surface of the pond like stained glass, reflecting and refracting the blue sky, the brown leaves, transparent at the same time.

The clothes dryer exhaust created clouds of steam in the garden, hearkening the disappearance of Brigadoon. Haven’t seen that steam in months and now it will be commonplace. I think that’s why the hostas planted there do so well; they are warmed throughout the winter by our drying undies.

The task today was to pull out all the annuals – the impatiens and zinnias and alyssum – so the wilted leaves and roots don’t have any opportunity to become diseased and poison the garden. I started in the front, cutting the dried bellflower stems just about down to the ground. The zinnias all came out, dried tumbleweeds at this point, like a dead spider with legs curling. I surprised three wrens flying in and out of the clematis. When they noticed me, they left and didn’t come back. Chickens. (get it? because they’re birds? ha!)

I dumped everything into the compost bin and then climbed into the practically empty veggie garden and picked up all the green tomatoes. Those went into the compost bin too. I   checked the black rain barrels. It was like Goldilocks. One had a little bit of water, one had a lot of water and one was “just right.” I took the top off the one filled to the brim and filled bucket after bucket of water to drench the compost. When I could feel the water running all the way down through the bin and into the grass, that was enough. I filled up two more buckets and tried to flood the peas and brussels sprouts as gently as I could.

I pulled up the soaker hose from that bed and it emerged formed into shape by the cold. I laid it in the sun to warm so I could coil it for storage. My Invisible Neighbor was out washing down her patio and I called hello, asking her about the removal of the final vestiges of the volleyball court that used to take up their backyard. For years now, only the posts have remained, all the sand covered with dirt and grass, the borders pulled up a long time ago.

I told her that the gentlemen who removed it on Wednesday were very nice and quick, as I was out there cutting spinach while they were working. With no fence, Griffey was loudly giving them what-for, probably thinking they were digging up bones to which he might somehow have a claim. I shushed him, bopping his snout with my finger. He looked concerned for my intelligence and continued to growl low in his throat. One of the men starting singing “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” to him and got a laugh from me and his crew.

The volleyball poles are her sandbox. Her youngest is now 34, so she waited alot longer than I.

I turned the water onto the hydrangea and started pulling out impatiens. The difference between the delicate little seedlings I planted not six months ago and these monsters was astonishing. In May, the stems were the size of a cocktail straw, thin and delicate, with maybe 3 or 4 per plant. Now, the stems are an inch wide, succulent and tight, in multiples. The roots were firm into the ground, a hard clump of material. The flowers are leaves are like lettuce gone horribly wrong, so they go in the compost bin too. I snapped all the dead stems left over from the red lilies.

As I took a bucket of waste to the compost bin, I decided to rip out the sweet potato vine too, as it’s wilted and drying. As I pull, something snapped and I see a potato – an honest-to-pete POTATO right there in the container. I had no idea that “sweet potato vine” really was! I thought it was an ornamental, like “asparagus fern”. HOW EXCITING. I cleared dirt away with my fingers and kept getting nowhere – this was one big potato! I grabbed my trowel and started digging, then unearthed a monstrosity – more than a foot long, pink and dirty and solid. HOW FUN IS THIS.

I trotted out front and started digging through that container. I was just about to give up, to assume that was a novelty when, sure enough, I found another potato. This one looks like a bird curled in its nest, head nestled against its back. I LOVE THE GARDEN. A sweet potato vine that really was!

My day is made.

 

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