A Garden At Peace


If the weather in New England this past week is any indication, the summer of 2010 will be a scorcher. It's only early June, and the temperature has already hit 90 degrees. It has been humid and sunny. The good news is that it makes a garden flourish. Ours certainly is.

My wife and I have a division of labor somehow befitting our stations in life. I weed, cultivate soil, mend fences, contend with incursions of wildlife; she plants, waters and serves the nurturing role. This morning we spent an hour in the garden before the temperature rose. Almost all our planting is done. All but the cucumbers appear to be thriving. We've been eating fresh vegetables now for more than a week.

We're learning a little bit more about efficient planting. We dedicate one 3 foot by 20 foot raised bed each year to sweet peas, a long row planted on or about St. Patrick's Day. By late July, the vines are spent, and the row is dormant. This year we planted acorn squash and pumpkins on either side of the row of peas. The theory is that once the peas have gone to seed, the gourds will have the rest of the summer to grow. Because these gourds grow most rapidly in July, August and September, our hope is that the bed will not be over-taxed. I will keep you posted.

Yesterday's high drama was the confrontation between one of our border collies, Odysseus, and a very large meadow vole or pine vole. The vole was surveying the perimeter of the garden, looking for a way through the fence. Ody caught him. A triumphant toss into the air and the vole was disemboweled. Ody's sister, Penelope, looked on in something like startled horror, growling. She plays at being ferocious. We like to say that she put the "grrrr" in girl.

If the voles are going to launch exploratory raids on the garden, I decided we needed a better sentinel than the dogs. I purchased a plastic owl at Home Depot and placed him on a stake, facing vole-land. The creature's big yellow eyes look real enough. But they did not fool Ody and Penny. The dogs gave the thing a quick once over and moved on. I hope the voles are not so savvy.

We've a fair number of owls who make our trees their home. In the middle of the night I often hear their quick rhythmic hooting. They are a quicker and more throaty beat of the morning doves' coo. One night, a barn owl flew down a tree covered lane from the road to our house as we drove along, wings spread beneath the canopy of interlocking tree limbs sheltering the path. It was good to be home. He was a regal escort.

Summer is still in its infancy here. Indeed, according to the calendar's annual beat we are still in Spring. There are many things that can still go wrong. We worry about blight and the fungus that one year decimated the gourds. But weeds and predators are under control. Although we see deer aplenty in the meadows out front in the morning and evening, I nearly collided with one at dusk the other day as I rounded a bend in the lane leading to our house, they have yet to attempt to jump the garden fence.

But today the garden is at peace and alive with possibilities. I'll spend the day in the office, and head home near Sunset to see how much growth another day brings. This is as close to contentment as I permit myself to travel.

NOTE: Did I speak too soon? The sky darkens and the trees shudder. A tornado watch until early this evening. Thunder roars and I watch the sky. A blustery day in a season of surprises.

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