Butterfly Ladies

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Aren’t they beautiful? At first it dampened the fun for me to learn that these ladies were from cards that came in cigarette packages in the 1920s. Flappers as butterflies, one tucked into each pack, with the common and Latin names of each species. There were 50 in the collection.

 

The red admiral

The Red Admiral, George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library, public domain.

 

I thought (rather sourly) at first, well, that’s a nice way for men to “collect” women, maybe they could even pin them to the walls! But then I thought about lady smokers, women enjoying a new and wild (albeit unwise) freedom. It was an exciting decade of change for women, both politically and socially. The 1920s was when women got the right to vote and it’s when they began wearing short hair. If you think about it, it’s not hard to see the metaphor of women going from caterpillar to butterfly! I concluded that these ladies, and their non-smoking lady friends, probably loved collecting these cards far more than the men.

Sandra Knauf

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Rain Songs

1024px-Here_comes_rain_again Juni from Kyoto, Japan

Here Comes the Rain Again by Juni from Kyoto, Japan, via Wikimedia Commons

 

In Colorado we’re getting some much needed moisture this week, so I thought I’d share this weather-appropriate poetry comic by one of my favorite authors, Jessy Randall.

Sandra Knauf

Rain Songs by Jessy Randall

Rain Songs by Jessy Randal (2)

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Jessy Randall’s poems, poetry comics, diagram poems, and other things have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, McSweeney’s, and Rattle. Her most recent book is Suicide Hotline Hold Music (Red Hen, 2016). She is a librarian at Colorado College and her website is http://personalwebs.coloradocollege.edu/~jrandall/.

 

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The Dirt on “Dirt”

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Drawing by Laura Chilson

(This article first appeared in Greenwoman #3: The Victory of Dirt)

On his way home from a campaign, Napoleon Bonaparte wrote his wife, “Dear Josephine, I will be arriving home in three days. Don’t bathe . . .”

One of the dirtiest words in existence in the 1400s was “slut,” describing this unfortunate creature as a “dirty, slovenly or an untidy woman.” As I dream of the time I’ve spent in Colorado soil, fingers cracked, digging out the longest part of a dandelion root or picking purslane seedlings, one by one, like picking out gray hairs, I long for even that transference between weeds, soil, and the body. Am I a slut to the earth? Are gardeners mere sluts, wanton slaves to their soil? I wondered at other gardeners’ relationships to dirt and its sullied beginnings.

Let’s explore a “dirty” profile, find out where soil got a dirty name: My imaginary Victorian, let’s call her Lady Catherine, has nothing to do. She stopped her needlework years ago. She dabbled in painting and could barely get enough orange on a canvas to make an orange before she bored of it. Her mouth is something between a geisha’s pretty tied-up bow with the bottom lip too full and supple for anything other than kissing by wild princes (riding uncontrollably across craggy moors to save Lady Catherine from twisting her ankle) or, worse yet, ennui.

Underneath Lady Catherine’s many bandaged breasts (corsets, etc.) and her large dress-hoops is a sensual being that Victorian society deemed “dirty” and which by deeming it so converted the world under the dress, and at every gardener’s foot, as something unnatural. The most important virtue, in order to be of High Victorian society, as we all know from the scene when Scarlet is forced to show her grubby, working hands in Gone With the Wind, was to be the owner of a pale, lifeless hand that went limp and delicate in any suitor’s grip. Then it was swept up under his nose for the lightest and most normal of kisses. But wait, was that tongue?!!! I’m sure it was, recoils Lady Catherine, as she whips her porcelain fingers from the suitor’s lips. How dirty, she thinks. How invasive. How very naughty.

Dirt got really dirty in the Victorian era, stripping anything having to do with soil from it, thus vanquishing all roots between the natural, oozing, procuring earth and the natural, oozing and procuring body. You can read up on the era and its prude expectations of women by delving into any Austin or even Cooksin novel. Dirt existed, whether the Victorian prigs wanted it or not. Dirt will always prevail, regardless of moniker.

Who are we now, we tillers of the land, Gods and Goddesses with hands as roots, reaching and groping into the earth for its dark secrets, accidentally digging up a lost tulip bulb, finding coins from the ’70s, extracting someone else’s white landscaping rock to reveal a barren hardness that we must convert back to its humus soul? Dare we admit that we are, in fact, dirty minded? Have we entered into the truest scandal in gardendom?

And who ruined soil? There were just enough uber-sexual beings to keep the dirty connotation. A scandalous dirt fetish is recorded between a Victorian-era barrister and his scullery maid in Wellcome Collection’s London exhibition a few years back which explored attitudes about dirt (“Dirt: the filthy reality of everyday life.”) London journalist Giovanna Dunmall  wrote about the exhibit:

“Our 21st-century preoccupation with germs and cleanliness is clearly not a new one . . . There is hardly a dull moment in this exploration of filth . . .[for example] letters detailing the bizarre 40-year relationship, and eventual marriage, between barrister Arthur Munby and scullery maid Hannah Cullwick in Victorian London. The former had a thing for working-class women whose jobs involved hard, physical labour and there are photographs of Cullwick dressed as a chimney sweep or posing covered in soot and dirt.”

Anyone walking through the streets of London at the time either were used to grime, (perhaps being one with it or dying by it?) and some carried a perfumed kerchief or nosegay to cover the stench of foul conditions. So many maladies stemmed from “dirt” that it was easily equated with filth. Before penicillin and sanitary drainage, it was an honest mistake; however, in our current society, worries about getting dirty in the garden bed stifles soil’s natural yearnings. When I speak to real gardeners, and this is from the beginner through the pro, they always mention how important it is to get their “hands in the soil.”  Especially after winter’s thaw, spring stirs something in every gardener’s soul.  For me, I constantly check the surface of the yard, kick it with a toe.  Does it divot, indent?  I take a shoe off and dip my naked toe.  Does it accept any entrance?

The different constitutions of loam, clay, sand, and organic matter implant themselves in my dreams so that I wake with their dark, dusky smell in the mornings, hoping I can get into the dirt. One gardener calls this tactile transfer a communication with the soil.  Tamara Mahoney, long-time certified Colorado master gardener has this to say, “Nothing calms my nerves or relieves my stress more than getting my hands in the dirt for a little bit. I love fresh carrots just dug out of my garden and washed in the garden hose . . . they taste like the dirt they have been growing in. No store-bought carrot ever tastes as good!”

Tasting the dirt is not the only vice we dirt worshipers have, but it’s a good one. Patricia Hampl stands up for eating a peck of dirt (a full two gallons) in her memoir A Romantic Education. She wrote about her grandparent’s dark and tuber-producing garden. “I ate dirt there. This is the first taste I remember.” After dropping a jawbreaker around the corner, the owner had said, “Well, you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die. “ After that, Hampl reflected on death and dirt and pictured herself without the proper amount. She ruminates, “So I ate dirt. I also ate it out of curiosity, putting it on my tongue like brown sugar and waiting hopelessly for it to melt.”

Our society and the media continue to sell us alcohol and other toxic cleaners to rid our hands of germs. Gardening gloves, like the corset, hinder transference. To combat dirt’s bad connotation, it’s not enough to just commune with the soil. Chuck Rise of Soil Science of America writes about soil’s healthy properties and that, ironically, many antibiotics come from soil. Under our feet, and indeed, in our hands as gardeners, we touch the key to existence itself. Rice asks us, “Did you know that there are more living individual organisms in a tablespoon of soil than there are people on the earth? A teaspoon of soil contains over 1 billion bacteria yet we know only 1%. The remaining 99% are unknown and contain a treasure trove of products.”

I have so many friends who are new to dirt and slowly succumb to its call, accepting the lure, and therefore scandal, into their lives, but jump into their soil too soon, without finding out what it will do first. One such gardener had bad luck. On the Laguna Dirt blog, Janine Robinson even admits defeat when she didn’t gauge her soil correctly. Kind of like going out in the middle of winter in a spaghetti strap dress. Sure, you’ll ensnare a dude, but what kind of dude will he be?

“I started a winter vegetable garden in early November, and blogged about how I built the raised bed on top of my concrete patio, using concrete block . . . I filled it with seedlings and seeds, but even after weeks of rain and warm temps, things barely grew. With the help of some gardening friend experts, I learned my soil was way too compact, allowing little drainage and oxygen.”

I’ve made the same mistakes, stripping my gloves off, digging small holes to plop a seed that never has room enough to spread and writhe. I learned, in the clay neighborhoods of Denver, that Eko clay-buster was just going to be my heavy companion while I labored, digging up clods, sweating into the earth, getting in deep and mixing the two: old sad, dried-up souls with new vigor. The result admitted any seed, enveloped, and pushed out my ornamental horehound, my monkey flower, reaching straight up out of my dirty mind.

I needed to find other dirty minds in the search for support. That’s not hard when talking to gardeners. Ross Shrigley, Senior Horticulturist at Denver Botanic Gardens, agreed with the notion that dirt can’t be bought, but must be manipulated. He writes,

“I know it’s the soil because fresh potting soil doesn’t deliver the same sensation for me. Potting soil just seems like work.” He relates that when speaking to clients he tells them of “ . . . the sensual feelings I have when a garden bed is prepared properly. It’s digging and planting with only my hands in that bed that pushes the high until all is planted. Climax is reached when I stand back and look at it, and know what is to come.”

We can be captured by dirt’s call, succumb to all its earthy needs. Every spring, we are virgins anew and let our minds go deeply astray. From all outside appearances, our Lady Catherine still doesn’t know what to do with that kiss on the hand, but within, there is a deep knowledge of her body.  We own such knowledge now, coming back to our dirt, manipulating carnally, heaving ourselves, letting the earth dominate us until we can harvest and eat its sweet offerings.

Our acceptance, our carnal deeds don’t go unrewarded. Shrigley also told me, at the end of planting, the reward of our earthen relationship, our dance, after we’ve let ourselves get soiled, planting beds, learning our soils, is rejoicing at earth’s reward. Shrigley states, “When I prepare a bed, I imagine it as my wife describes the great sensation of shaving her legs and climbing into the clean sheets of a nicely made bed. I can easily imagine her sensation when she climbs in and I picture myself being the sheets. That’s the sensation I seek when I properly prep a garden bed.”

Lady Catherine would outwardly be appalled, touch her laced glove to her lips and intake breath. As the gardener is raking clods of moist earth in front of her, shirtless, a new world awakens under and inside, where she has the fantasy of rolling with him, dirt and all, in the flower bed.

References:

Dunmall, G. http://www.iconeye.com/read-previous-issues/icon-096-|-june-2011/dirt
Rice, C. http://wiredsoils.blogspot.com/2011/01/soil-is-fundamental-for-life.html
Robinson, J. http://lagunadirt.blogspot.com/

 

ElisabethBorderFF copy

Born in Northern California, Elisabeth Kinsey was raised amongst her Italian and Jewish families. Her parents converted to Mormonism, which is the basis of her memoir: The Holy Ghost Goes to Bed at Midnight: Half a Mormon Life, that she is now shopping around to agents.
She has a BA in Writing from Metropolitan State University of Denver and a MA in Creative Writing from Regis University. She teaches writing and composition.
Her published works appear in Greenwoman Magazine, Ask Me About My Divorce,Seal Press, Wazee Journal, The Rambler, and Emergency Press among other journals.
Elisabeth can be called upon to speak about: divorce, leaving a strict religion, zone 5 gardening, Italian cooking, and andragogy.
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May Weeding

SI Exif

Image from King County, WA, government website. Plants are “herb Robert” (a.k.a. “Stinky Bob”) and invasive English ivy.

May Weeding

No crow came by today, no ones, no twos, no threes.

I had worms, succulent ones hanging onto the scilla
I yanked out. The log across the creek may not hold
me many more times. I’ll stop weeding that slope.

Everything is jumbo-sized.
The stinky bob weed is big as turkey platters,
smells of fetid fingers. Some people call it
death-come-quickly.

I pulled eighteen stands of stinky bob
that looked like spiders sunning
in wisps of invader ivy
where wild morning glory poked out.

My mind stuck on the story of three war widows,
the women in the conflicted spotlight of that play,
laments translated into English.

Dandelions below the mower blade.
Invasive periwinkle blooms its blue.
Refugees hung in my hands.

No crow came by today.

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Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who has maintained gardens all her life, sowing the seeds of sanity. She grew up admiring her mother’s roses and vegetable garden. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and volunteers at Portland’s Washington Park Rose Test Garden. Her chapbook Urban Wild is available from Amazon and focuses on interactions between humans and wildlife in urban habitat.

Her lyric and eco-poetry of  Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press) focuses on a small town on the Oregon coast, Manzanita. Website: triciaknoll.com
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The Arthur Rackham Forest in Spring

4.2.7

From Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes by Arthur Rackham.      “The fair maid who, the first of May, Goes to the fields at break of day, And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree, Will ever after handsome be.”

Sunday’s May Day and I thought this illustration fit Tricia’s poem nicely. If you’re not familiar with the amazing Arthur Rackham, check out his work here.

Happy (almost) May Day!

Sandra Knauf

 

The Arthur Rackham Forest in Spring

The gnomes no longer hide
in the cleft of half-rotten trees.
Not this season, this time,
they snort behind fallen limbs
hung in spring-green mosses,
and fall silent as I pass.

Where the globular man
spins dreams from knobby fingers
stillness camouflages him from me.
Above where the woods violets
wink yellow at the tree frogs, wrens sing
of wing rebirth out of sight of fairies.

In the splintered hoary trunk of crabapple
tree, where early buds swell up,
tree-maids flutter first wings,
rejoice at all the upthrust of spring.
Beneath my foot winter downfalls crack
and chokecherry blossoms snow
on dawn’s long shadows, the creek and me.

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Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who has maintained gardens all her life, sowing the seeds of sanity. She grew up admiring her mother’s roses and vegetable garden. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and volunteers at Portland’s Washington Park Rose Test Garden. Her chapbook Urban Wild is available from Amazon and focuses on interactions between humans and wildlife in urban habitat.

Her lyric and eco-poetry of  Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press) focuses on a small town on the Oregon coast, Manzanita. Website: triciaknoll.com
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Michele Parker’s Garden Love

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I met Michele Parker last June, via email, when I sent a love letter to those who followed my newsletter. I wanted to make a deeper connection with my readers, I wanted to get to know those who were getting a glimpse into my life, my artistic dreams. A half-dozen souls answered my message in a bottle. Warmly and openly they shared their lives, their art, their garden dreams. I got to know them and was thrilled to share their beautiful paintings, poems, and stories.

I thought, Wow, how lucky I am to know these people!

I connected with them all, but Michele and I really hit it off.

This woman, who describes herself as “loving all things green, winged and dressed in fur,” is a force of nature (oh, the powers she embodies: a keen intellect, so many talents, and amazing energy), and yet the most beautiful thing about her is her wise, gentle soul. We connected deeply when we discovered that an experience I had written about years ago dovetailed (in a supernatural way!) to an experience in her life. It’s a long story that I hope to share one day, but let’s just say that it involved those who have passed on bringing us together. We call it “big magic,” a la Elizabeth Gilbert’s book. Michele and I became pen pals, shooting off dozens of emails, sharing joys, trials, ambitions, loves. You know something special is happening when you write a long email, press the send button, and the person you’re writing has written you at exactly the same time! That’s happened more than once.

I could go on and on about Michele, but I will instead do what I’ve set out to do and introduce you to her via an interview. You see, today is very special. It’s Earth Day and Michele is launching her new brand new blog, Garden Love! Her first post tells about her start as a gardener almost 20 years ago on her five acre, Zone 3, piece of land in Manitoba, Canada.

Sandra Knauf

Michele sitting by pond adjusted

Michele.

 

Flora’s Forum: Congratulations on your blog launch! Love and gardening, Garden Love. Yes, that says it all. How did you get your start in gardening?

Michele Parker: Thank you! The love of gardening is all down to my mother. Her greatest joy was nurturing the growth of plants. Each home we lived in growing up was filled with all manner of trailing, arching, bushy, spiky, flowering and upright plants. Seeds were started in the basement and transplanted in the backyard, trees planted, garden beds created . . . chives and herbs lived happily outside the back door and close to the kitchen.

The Findhorn Garden was one of her favourite books, and it led both of us deeper into the wonder and magic of co-creating with naturebeyond the practical aspects of planting and into the mystery of life itself. My website is dedicated in loving memory to her.

 

Bluebird Clematis in the garden

“The vine in this picture is Macropetala clematis ‘Bluebird.’ She’s been in place there for almost 20 years and I have a post on her in Garden Love. My blog will include Plant Profiles of some of my hale and hearty favourites every so often, just to highlight some of the plants that have been exceptional and admired for one reason or another.”

Flora’s Forum: I love your style—very cottage garden-y, with the vegetables and flowers, a blend of easy-going and organized. Who are your style influences?

English gardens have always been my first love. The novels of Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and of course, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden are dear to my heart and have been a huge influence on my garden style. I admire the English garden designer, Rosemary Vereyshe designed many quintessential English Country Gardens, including the Barnsley House gardens in the Cotswolds. I own several of her books and often return to them for a good inspirational shot in the arm whenever I need it.

On a more contemporary side, I have also been deeply inspired by the writing and gardens of Patrick Lima, a Canadian gardener who lives on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. His writing beautifully illustrates the growth and changes within his beloved Larkwhistle garden. If you get a chance to read his book The Art of Perennial Gardening I highly recommend it!

Flora’s Forum: Do you have any unusual garden obsessions? 

Michele Parker: Oh myYES! Aquilegia is my garden obsessioncommon name is columbine. The native Aquilegia canadensis has happily self-seeded in my garden for years, which has led me to explore all the colourful hybrids as well. Two years ago I purchased 7 seed packets of varying colours, shapes and sizes and tossed them with abandon into the garden surrounding my pond. I started to doubt my haphazard approach until this spring as I scratched around the fallen litter to discover tiny aquilegia seedlings emerging from the ground. I just about peed my pants I was so excited! I will definitely be sharing their progress on the Garden Love blog.

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“This is a southfacing foundation bed at what used to be the front of the ‘little blue house’ that was on the property. (Our addition is to the left.) All the perennials have meshed together and run in wild abandon: shasta daisies, daylilies, hostas. Virginia creeper, hops, and clematis ‘Jacmanii’ are the vines you see climbing the side of the house.”

Flora’s Forum: If you could only grow flowers or veggies, what would you choose, and why? (I think this means practical or frivolous to some, but not to me!)

Michele Parker: Flowers. There are many ways I can feed my body . . . but my Soul requires flowers.

Flora’s Forum: I agree! Sometimes I feel guilty about that, a little, because I feel I should grow even more food, but I can’t help it! What are your favorite books (gardening, fiction, nonfiction), authors, and music? 

Michele Parker: The books which have struck a resonating chord with me . . . Richard Bach’s Johnathan Livingston Seagull, The Reluctant Messiah, and One all contained a theme of following your heart and a knowing that there is more to living than meets the eye. Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet was a book my brother Jim gave me which touched me deeply with its prose and message of unconditional love. Mary Stewart’s tale of a young Merlin discovering his natural gifts in The Crystal Cave was an enchanting thrill for me to readbut one of my favourite books of all time is the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor/philosopher from the first century AD whose insights and wisdom are truly timeless.

Music is where it gets eclectic for me . . . our family grew up surrounded by musicmy Dad would often play Glenn Miller big band type music and always brought home a huge variety of music from the radio station where he was the morning man here in Winnipeg. My mom was an accomplished pianist and my brother Scott writes his own music and plays guitar beautifully. I instantly loved the piano and practically begged for lessons as a little girl. Dearest to my heart though, hands down is Beethoven. The Allegretto from his Symphony No 7 can literally bring me to tears. It’s funny, of all the songs I learned to play on the piano, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Fur Elise have never left the memory of my fingertips . . . he is in my blood.

Flora’s Forum:  I know you paint too, and you write! A life surrounded with ART. I love it. Okay, back to gardening. What do you enjoy most about gardening? What do you hate?

Michele Parker: This is really difficult to answer. When I garden it is such an immersive feeling that it’s really challenging to pick out one aspect which I enjoy most. To be honest, I’ve recently had an insight into the heart of my love for gardening and nature overall which came to me on a walk the other day with the dogs . . . lost in thought, my mind swimming with ‘to do’ lists and questions, the song of a robin cut through my distraction and captured my attention instantly. I became present again to the beauty surrounding me in that moment.

Gardening, even one perfect flower, has the power to capture our attention and safely deliver us into the present moment where life is happeningaway from our stresses and worries of the future or demons of the past. I love the power of nature to heal the human spirit in this way . . . it gently reminds us to be fully present. If our mind is elsewhere when we are gardeningwe might as well be doing the dishes in the kitchen.

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“This is the vegetable garden being watered in the early morning. The scarlet runner beans are growing up a teepee I made out of branches collected from our woods–the hummingbirds of course love the red flowers, and I primarily grow it each year just for their pleasure. Our vegetable garden lies to the east of our house and receives full sun for most of the day, although there are shaded areas in the late afternoon as the sun falls behind the tall trees and house.”

Flora’s Forum: Any big projects in the works?

Michele Parker: I have a major overhaul to do in two foundation beds at the front of the house this season. Tens years of certain plants running amuck (globe thistle I’m talking to you!) and others in desperate need of dividing means I’m planning some serious refurbishing!

I’ve also become interested in creating more habitats specifically for bees and butterflies in our yard. A new butterfly garden is in the works which will include many milkweed plants for the monarch butterflies in particular, but also another flower bed which will be a lot of fun, that will contain mostly colourful and nectar-rich annual flowers just outside the vegetable garden.

My husband Ray is going to begin work on the screened back porch off our living room as well, and part of his plan there is to include two large planters on either side of the stairs which will add some more wonderful plant life to that part of our yard as well!

Flora’s Forum: I know this is Flora’s Forum, but I could very well love having a blog called Flora’s Fauna, about animals! We’re alike in that way too; mad for our pets and the wild creatures. Tell us a little about your pets, please. 

Michele Parker: Cali and Max are the true heartbeat of our home in the country. We never went looking for any of our dogs, they all just kind of found us. Max arrived one Monday afternoon when I happened to be home with the flu from work. My older dog Lily was out on the back deck and I heard her barking so went to see what the fuss was all about. Standing shyly at the side of our house was an emaciated young dog. I said “Well hello there” and he ran over and pressed his body against my legs and looked up at me as if to say “Can you please help me?” He had grown into the collar that was around his neck and was desperately in need of food. I took him to the vet and we tried for a week to find his owners but no one appeared to be looking for him. The vet phoned after a week and told me they couldn’t hold him any longer and had to ship him off to the humane society. I said, “I’ll be right over to bring him home, thank you.”

Cali came on the heels of a summer where we had to say good-bye to our beloved first dog, Lily. I promised Lily in her last days that I would bring her home again if I could, and that I would watch for her and recognize her eyes when I saw them. A random email arrived later that fall from a rescue shelter in Saskatchewan with a handful of photo attachments of a litter of puppies they were trying to find homes for. One after the other I opened and each received the customary “Ahhhh!” then the last photo I opened sent an electric shock up the back of my spine when I saw the eyes looking back at me . . . I called Ray to come and see . . . at the same moment he was calling me to run into the living room and see this dog on television that looked EXACTLY like our Lily.

I don’t ignore synchronicity in my life. . . . We drove 6 hours to pick Cali up and bring her home and she’s been the Queen of the garden ever since. I brought my girl home again.

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Max is on the left, Cali on the right.

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This is Zeus, Michele’s handsome American Paint horse. She has an amazing story about how he came into her life as well, which I hope she will share one day on Garden Love!

Flora’s Forum: That is a beautiful story about Lily/Cali! One more gardening question—do you find any big differences between American and Canadian gardeners?

Michele Parker: I’ve had a chance to meet some wonderful gardeners from Americayourself includedthat share the same passions we do here in Canada, and I have never come across any discernible differences between us. I really do believe this is a universal language we all share. The types of plants which are native to each of our varying zones may differ in form and habit, and I can only DREAM of growing magnolia trees or massive rhododendrons here, but the impulse and desire which gets us all digging in the dirt and nurturing plant life is the same wherever we are on the planet.

Flora’s Forum: I believe you’re right. The gardening heart is universal. My final question: In the overall garden of life, what’s germinating for Michele Parker now? What beautiful things will Garden Love to be the jumping off point for?

Michele Parker: Well, I’ve spent close to twenty years working in the corporate world with some incredible peoplesome will be friends for the rest of my life. I learned a lot about communication, teaching through documentation and having to think fast on my feet in order to find solutions to immediate problems. But I feel an internal shift happening that is telling me, “It’s really time for a change Michele.”

Setting up Garden Love and preparing all the tech side of things was a huge learning curve for meand yet I’ve never been so excited, scared or engaged as I feel right now. I’m doing what I absolutely LOVE; writing, sharing, expressing myself creatively and talking about gardening!

I don’t know where this will lead . . . I only know I’m open and ready for more adventures in my own backyard and can’t wait to find out what I’m going to learn from fellow gardeners in the near futurethat’s the x-factor and that’s where the magic lies . . . just keep moving forward.

Flora’s Forum: Thank you, Michele, and Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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The Ting of the Trowel

Convallaria_majalis_By_FoeNyx_via Wikimedia Commons

Convallaria majalis by FoeNyx, via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Ting of the Trowel

My cold shovel pings edges
of a buried brick walk
lined with river rock.
Ivy crawls over this old garden.
Disrespect and neglect
is a predictable garden story.
Time rounds the edges
and moves the mud.

I trowel off gray-green clay
and roll aside marker stones.
Red-green stippled nipples slow
my fingers in chilled, muddy gloves.
Weed? Friend? Foe? Familiar.

That round we sang in grade school . . .

   White coral bells upon a slender stalk
   Lilies of the valley bless my garden walk.
   Oh, don’t you wish that you could hear them ring,
   that can happen only when the fairies sing.

Come spring, they’ll send out my grandmother’s smell
on linen handkerchiefs – this green work
of some forgotten gardener.

I reset her straying bricks,
herd her river-rock.
  I pebble you,
  honor your lilies
  wherever you are,
perhaps a nursing home.

Tricia Knoll

 

Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who has maintained gardens all her life, sowing the seeds of sanity. She grew up admiring her mother’s roses and vegetable garden. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and volunteers at Portland’s Washington Park Rose Test Garden. Her chapbook Urban Wild is available from Amazon and focuses on interactions between humans and wildlife in urban habitat.

Her lyric and eco-poetry of  Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press) focuses on a small town on the Oregon coast, Manzanita. Website: triciaknoll.com
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