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Showing posts from December, 2010

The Garden of the Mind

Winter. The main farm tasks are keeping the horses fed, supplied with water, and provided   with dry, warm stalls overnight . Although planning for the new gardening season is already starting, there is still time for remembering other gardens, other gardeners. My parents always kept a small kitchen garden.   As did their parents before.   And everyone else around, too.    Our garden was at the back of the property, adjoining the lane that separated the farms and homes from the fields of wheat and sugar beet. It had a fence and a gate which was always kept latched, despite the fact that all the other villagers grew their own carrots and lettuce, and would hardly be prowling around trying to snatch some of ours. We grew basics: tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, herbs. Whatever you might toss in a salad. And then some strawberries, corn, and potatoes. The corn and potatoes didn’t fit in the garden, so they occupied a small open patch next to it. I remember being out there in the eveni

My double is a dog

This is Murphy. Murphy the Mutt. We got her from a shelter in February 2006. Murphy was my first dog. My very first pet. I was 48 years old. That is kind of sad. In a pathetic sort of way. I remember walking into the room that looked like a prison corridor in the movies, rows of cells with bars along one side. All the dogs were barking, except one. She just sat there, looking at us with veiled curiosity. Two days later we brought her home. The old farm house was still being renovated, and we slept on the floor in the living room while as-yet-nameless dog wandered the house looking for an escape route. I was afraid she might attack and eat me in my sleep. Did I mention that she was my first pet, and that I knew absolutely nothing about dogs? I still don't know much about dogs, but I know that this particular dog and I are very much alike. We share some deep structure of soul or life experience, and when she dies a piece of me will go with her to lie in the ground behind the old b

Blankets of straw

It is time to mulch the garlic with straw. I planted it late, mid-Novemebr almost, but I know it will be there come spring, and in July the scapes will rise from the ground again, first straining straight up, then relaxing a little into curls, coiling like garden hoses or snakes charmed out of their baskets by the sound of a flute. The straw keeps the bulbs warm over the winter, as they lie seemingly dormant a few inches below the surface. In truth, they are very much alive, sleeping perhaps, but gathering strength for the work to be done in the new year. In general, it seems a mistake to consider the winter months a time when nothing is happening in nature. Everything is happening. Spring leaves and flowers are only the final result of all the preparation that goes on under the snow. It feels appropriate that the Jewish New Year should begin in the fall, when the second cut hay is brought in, when the vegetables are ripe, and the maple trees stand like torches in the field, for