Thursday, June 19, 2008

Snakes and Other Sounds

We get used to the strangest things.

The sound is barely audible, and very, very brief. But I hear it above all the cars, birds, dogs, planes, mowers, whatever is going on around the neighborhood—a garter snake escaping from under the garden’s black plastic as I approach. I can even tell which garden and the exact location of the snake, watching it slither quickly into the grass.

I start working the soil for a new plot, and I hear the low, quick sound of my neighbor’s horse quickly flapping his lips. From two hundred feet away, through several lines of densely packed evergreens, he knows I’m there. I know exactly where along the fence he is, too, although I can’t see him and I’m not sure how I can tell—nor how he can tell that yes, just this afternoon I bought a bag of carrots to share, still in the car…but he knows.

The neighbor’s dogs—on the other side, five hundred feet away---bark incessantly. They have eight dogs (they show them). I don’t even notice the sound, until my neighbor periodically yells at them to shut up. His barking is the annoyance, and it never works anyway, other than a second or two of silence before the dogs begin again.

Red-winged blackbirds tsk tsk continually. That does get irritating after a time. I know it won’t stop, however, nor can I get away from it, as the birds are telling others that I’m there and where I am. I watch them follow me as I move through the garden.

I check my strawberry patches---lots of berries, and many more on the way. Finally, fencing out rabbits and netting out birds has proven successful. I lift the net and pick the ripe berries—only to find that I’m now competing with ants and slugs for the fruit. Damn frustrating. I pick all the ripe berries before any more damage can be done. I’ll clearly have to stay on top of harvesting.

I check my broccoli---the largest plant is lying on its side, cut halfway through the stem at the ground. Rootworm. Great. Sigh.

I’m not fond of snakes. However, they don’t harm the plants, and they eat insects. They can stay.

And I don’t mind the sound anymore—I’m used to it.


Monday, June 2, 2008

The Saga Begins

I finally had to admit my old lawn mower was beyond even what duct tape, wire and gorilla glue could help, so I headed to the store for a replacement.

Emblazoned across the front and back of the 22” cut green beast, in bright yellow, appears its name: The Weed Eater. And all I could think of while cutting grass this morning was “I am the Weed Eater; where is the Key Master?”

As I cut along the edge of my property, my nearest neighbor had a different thought: “I am the horse; where is my apple?”

I rolled the mower back to the shed, accosted by Shanti: “I am your dog; why is the horse getting treats?”

As I opened my front door to get to indoor work, my cats greeted me with, “We are the cats; where is our lunch?”

The portal has been opened.


Sunday, June 1, 2008


Last night I came home, sat down with my dog, and watched the stars come out.

I used to do this all the time, and sat thinking about how and why I would ever stop. Bit by bit, I suppose, the intrusions accumulate. A firefly shines. Michael.

Michael was my best friend since I was two. His family rented the second floor of the house, my parents the first floor. We were inseparable. We even became blood brothers—and understood what we were doing (never underestimate children). Although we were born just six weeks apart, we straddled opposite lines of the school rules, so I set off for kindergarten at age four, while Michael had to wait a year. So it was at home that we cemented our friendship.

Michael had a collection of empty bottles—or so they appeared. We would walk across the field, and Michael would point out the sparkling lights that were fairies. His bottles, in fact, contained several of these fairies, each in the form of cartoon characters—Donald Duck, Mighty Mouse, Bugs Bunny and many more. I couldn’t see them of course, but I had Michael to describe them.

Simpler times.