Tuesday, May 10, 2016


We woke up to rain. I was happy to hear it splashing not too gently on the roof. All the new plantings need a rather steady drenching of water in their initial stages of adaptation. I don't mind standing over them with a hose, but this natural shower of rain is much nicer.

When I went out to open the coop for the cheepers, the rain had died down to a gentle drizzle. I noticed the crab apple had lost most of its petals. How quickly everything changes! One month ago, the farmette landscape was entirely brown! Now, we're past the bloom of the fruit trees and nearly done with the daffodils.

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I spend about an hour cleaning up the main raspberry field. We had gone to great trouble tidying it several years ago and if I don't prune it back, it will become a jungle again. The drizzle turns into steady rain again, but I continue. Somehow, it feels good to be out here, working in Ed's now very wet jacket.

The rain makes the lilac branches sag. Beauty isn't diminished by a heavy load. One should remember that.

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When I see the yard in this bounty of sagging limbs and half hidden structures, I am nearly always reminded of the initially very beautiful but ultimately tremendously sad movie that I saw many decades ago -- the Garden of the Finzi Continis. I was young, I had just moved to the States and I was a bit overwhelmed by what I had left behind, both in terms of history and, too, the visual magnificence of the gardens, fields and forests of my childhood. I went to see the film in New York, where I now was living and though it is set mainly in the gardens of a Jewish family in Italy and the theme ties a sort of coming of age story to the encroaching fascism of the prewar era, I saw in it every powerful emotion, festering in a bucolic idle, even as very little happened from one scene to the next. Eventually, outside forces (Mussolini) ripped raw the peace and tranquility of the setting. Without that horrible intervention, there would have been great continuity in the gardens, the occasional romantic yearning, a game of tennis among friends.

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Maybe it's that the soundtrack of the movie so parallels the one in the farmette's gardens: it is here as it was there one of constant birdsong. We have so many trees and with trees come the birds.

Most of what I plant grows, as you know, in a hidden from view courtyard. It's secretive and calm, moving forward with serenity, without fanfare.

(Did you ever see our crumbling main entrance? We haven't fixed it yet. Maybe we never will.)

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If there will be no intervention that would undo the peace here, it will be like this year after year -- the most important event being the planting of something new, the trimming of branches, a glance at a grandchild, a lilac bending its branches after a rainfall.

We don't eat breakfast outside. It's in the 50sF (low teens C) and the front room seems right for a wet and cool day.

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We watch the cheepers venture out toward the front of the house. They rarely come here and never go near the road. If you drive by, you might wonder what crazy people let their chickens roam free in this fashion, but the cheepers know that their center is in the court yard. Not here. And certainly not by the road.

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I work inside again and in the afternoon, I run through my list of errands, appointments and even a quiet drink with law school friends.

Dinner is at the farmhouse -- we have guests (another set of Ed friends), but I have no time to cook dinner for them and so I merely bring home Thai take out.

If every week had a few days like this one, I would be delighted. Snowdrop may want to be outdoors every waking hour, but sometimes, I just like to have time inside, looking out.

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  1. In the Garden of the Finzi-Continis, yes! we saw that so many years, decades, ago. It was a wonderfully made film, though so sad, of course the persecution and internment of the Jews in Italy would be SAD. But you were remembering the garden, and Europe, your home, and young love.

    You cherish your memories of Poland, of course. Nostalgia tricks us somewhat. I remember my Grandmother's wondrous garden, and the woods and stream near our house where we were allowed to roam freely from a very early age. Well now, her garden was not extraordinary, I suppose, nor the woods so vast as I remember. But it was a completely free and exuberant and much-beloved time of my life, so I also invest the place with a special beauty. Maybe even, your word, sublime :)

    1. Thank you for this comment, JoyD. It's so full of understanding...

      I'll add my own to your touching recollection: I had exactly that -- a completely free and exuberant and much beloved time of my life every summer of my childhood at my grandparents' village house. My memories are of waking to grandma stoking the fire in the stove outside my bedroom door, while the tall birches swayed outside my window. Of wading across the river and lying down in its most shallow parts to feel the water trickle between my toes slowly, clearly. Of picking mushrooms in the pungent forest after a vicious rain. Of puddles that made for great bike riding. Of buckets of blueberries and of cherries filling the tree just by our house. But when my sister bought this same memory-filled property in the same village and when I went back -- it didn't feel the same. Time. Childhood. Grandparents. Those factors matter. So I'll stick with the memories. And I'll catch a wisp of that nostalgia when I work the garden but I wont go back. Don't want that. I like my now.


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