Mike Callicrate talks about the problems facing us in agriculture and what we must do. I agree 100%.
(And, as an aside, this dovetails beautifully with what I’m doing with Greenwoman Market—promoting LOCAL, Earth-friendly businesses! Many creative solutions are necessary to build a better world.)
“Avoid the global economy. Avoid the global monopolies that are now currently extracting the wealth from the economies of the world. They have to go away. We can’t get rid of this overnight, but we can certainly start building an alternative . . .”—Mike Callicrate
Callicrate’s Call to Action: Let’s Break up the Monopolies and Build a Resilient Agricultural Alternative NOW!
Mike Callicrate talks about the problems facing us in agriculture and what we must do. I agree 100%.
Filed under Garden Writers We Love
Was so thankful to see this just-released #1 Best Seller! We must work harder than ever to get this information out.
“Monsanto knew for decades that glyphosate causes cancer and a deadly retinue of other devastating illnesses. Instead of warning its customers and consumers about those risks, Monsanto manipulated the science, defrauded regulators, bribed prominent researchers, transformed the EPA pesticide division into a cesspool of corruption, and promoted propaganda worldwide, systematically lying to the public that the deadly pesticide was safe. This company injured public health, destroyed our soils, exterminated species, wiped out small farmers, and deprived the public of their fundamental civil right of informed consent. Monsanto made a special project of discrediting and destroying scientists, advocates, and reformers who exposed its corrupt cover-up. Among the most prominent of these was heroic MIT researcher Dr. Stephanie Seneff. In 2018, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the legal team that finally brought Monsanto to justice. We relied heavily on Dr. Seneff’s research to achieve this victory.”―Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Filed under Save our Planet
The Bounty in a Bulb
I had forgotten all about this piece, written over a decade ago, until the blog Garden Rant contacted me about a month ago. They were looking for photos for their guest posts as many had been lost and they were rebuilding their website,
What a gift it was to relive sweet memories.
Wishing for a beautiful spring for us all,
The Bounty in a Bulb
I’ve had my share of bulb fever over the years. It’s always the same, coming on in late summer, intensifying with fall, and eased only by hours poring over full-color bulb-porn catalogs and long, excited lists. I’ve splurged a few times, putting in big orders that included the practical (species tulips, muscari, Darwins) to the extravagant (parrot, fringed, and peony tulips, Allium ‘Globemaster’ and shubertii.)
And I have loved them all.
For me, it began sixteen years ago, during the first fall in the home we live in now, with my first real garden. I wanted bulbs and lots of them. Early in November, eight months pregnant with our second daughter, I planted 180 in one day; dozens of fancy tulips for the front of our bungalow (most lasted one season), ‘King Alfreds’ by the street, drumstick alliums, crocus, and blue ‘Glory of the Snow’. I remember my sister-in-law Victoria’s charming comment on how the husks enveloping the daffs were their “little jackets for the winter.” She helped me dig big holes and instructed me in proper bulb planting–sprinkle the holes at the bottom with bone meal, add enough bulbs to make a nice show.
I ended the day sore and happy. The next spring, in a new home, with a new baby and so much floral beauty, was glorious.
Looking back now, with the girls mostly grown and nearly two decades of gardening behind me, I realize that what made it glorious was not really the bulbs. What filled my heart was springtime itself and our young family (I see it now as a mirror image of the youthful abundance then around us). In a word, love. The bulbs were just icing on the cake. I know this because three years earlier I felt just as happy sitting on a small porch in May, at a different home, with no garden to speak of, and our first baby in my arms. That spring I fawned over what grew in a section of our cramped yard–a few scruffy grape hyacinths (not planted by me), scrawny wild roses canes that came from who-knows-where, beginning to bud, and the antics of a single robin. Simpler, but just as sweet.
That said, I know that hopping on the bulb-buying bandwagon is hard to resist. Gardening, for many of us, is a giving pursuit, and pleasure comes in delighting not just ourselves, but others. When I see a neighbor on our sidewalk, stopping, smiling, pointing at something I’ve planted, I’m thrilled. If you are in the business, it’s pretty much a duty to have a show-stopping garden and first-hand plant education. But for those of you who don’t have money to spend on bulbs for the spring and are feeling blue, to you I say, “It’s okay.” Personally, my bulb catalogs are where they’ve been stashed for the last few years, in the “maybe” pile on the reading table, as in, if something happens where a ton of money comes my way, I’m gonna buy me a LOT of bulbs. It’s not going to happen again this year, and you know what? It’s fine.
When spring comes I’ll enjoy those hardy bulbs that have persisted in my garden, grape hyacinths, the six ‘Globemasters’ that get smaller each year but are still fascinating, the few bright spots of Darwin tulips that always bring a glad surprise, and a patch of those prolific species tulips, the Tulipa clusianas. If I find I can’t live without buying something this fall, it’ll be a small purchase, maybe a box or two of those $2.99 bulbs I’ve been eyeing at the grocery store, or a fragrant hyacinth at the neighborhood garden center to force in a colorful glass (it is a lot of fun). As the proverb goes, it only takes one to feed the soul.
Filed under DIY, garden writing, Green Poetry, Love, Mother Nature, Wisdom
Creating the Greenwoman Doll – Part III
I didn’t have to wait long to see if Bee could make our girl’s somber expression brighter.
Two days later, on May 7th, Bee wrote:
“Great article Sandy, love how it’s all coming along.
I’ve shaded two more layers and nearly finished the face; she has a smile now and looks much happier. I will be doing at least another 6-7 more layers of shading to the body, so a ways to go. I use Pan Pastels for the shading, fixing each layer with a non toxic UV Matt varnish spray which needs at least 30 mins of drying time in between.
Here’s a couple of pics of the progress so far . . .
I’ll be adding more and more green to the tattoos. This is the base shade and her eyes need more green too.”
She’s smiling! And looking so close to what I imagined!
I was thrilled!
Now I was holding my breath. We were at the final stages. I was happy, but what would the final doll look like? What would her hair be like styled? Would the tattoos look awesome? I was shocked to hear that it took so many layers of coloring. A truly labor-intensive project! A labor of love. I told Bee how happy and grateful I was. I also mentioned that I’d researched the USPS (United States Postal Service) site after seeing one Etsy artist comment on international mail experiencing big delays. On the USPS site I read that some deliveries to Europe were now taking as much as 4-6 weeks as there were fewer air carriers and much of the mail was being transported by ship! I told Bee I wasn’t worried; that this pandemic has been a lesson in cultivating patience.
Bee wrote back:
“My dolls are actually getting to their owners with in 2-3 weeks because I send them via International ‘track and sign’ post. They are also insured so I think that it’s just Standard shipping you’re looking at maybe for the long delays?
I’ll be finishing your doll over the next few days and will send it to you on Tuesday the 12th, after our bank holiday. I’ll send you pics for your blog after it’s all completed.
Have a good weekend.” ^.^
Two to three weeks would be fantastic!
And then . . . four days later (May 11th), the final photos.
“Here she is all finished, apart from glossing the eyes and lips. I think she looks amazing, especially up close, so much detail. Hope you can see it all in these photos. I’ll wrap her up and send her to you on either Tues. or Weds. next week.”
And, last but not least, the creator’s hand at work . . .
My response? I was a tad excited:
“OMG. SHE LOOKS SO EFFING COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m over the moon!
Thank you so much!!!!
I know it’s evening there, so I will write and gush some more tomorrow.
She’s really beautiful and it just looks fantastic.
I cannot wait to show her off to the world!”
Our Greenwoman is now on her way. We just have to wait for her to cross the Atlantic Ocean, go halfway across the United States, and arrive, safe and sound, in Colorado!
Then the real adventures begin!
Stay tuned for the naming contest!
Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!
P. S. Thank you again, Bee. You have made a dream come true. There’s still magic in Cornwall and throughout the world. You’ve proved it. ❤
Filed under Art & the Garden, DIY, Green Artists, Love, Magic
Creating the Greenwoman Doll – Part II
Last week, as I was writing the first post on the Greenwoman doll/mascot, I was also learning a little about our doll’s creator, Bee Hale. When I told her I’d be writing two more posts about the process of creating this doll, I asked if I might share a little about her and her life. I asked a few questions: how she got into creating dolls, what it’s like to live in Cornwall—and if her real name is Bee!
One of the first things I noticed when I looked at Bee’s Etsy site, Bee Real Dolls, was that Bee was from Truro, England. Truro, I discovered, was in Cornwall. I’d heard of Cornwall, the rugged southwestern tip of England, with it’s wild moorland, hundreds of beaches and towering cliffs, and, maybe most famously to some of us, the home of the legendary King Arthur. So romantic! I’ve not had the privilege to visit (it’s on my list of dream vacation destinations), but my daughter Zora has. She attended graduate school in Dublin where she met her Irish husband, and during their courtship they took a trip to Cornwall. You see, Zora grew up with plenty of mythology, fairy tales, and legends, and she really wanted to see the birthplace of King Arthur, Tintagel Castle.
When I learned Bee was from Truro, I asked Zora if she’d visited there. “No, we wanted to but didn’t have time.” Then she added, “You know that’s the town in Poldark.”
(Ah, PBS Masterpiece‘s Poldark—the riveting story of Ross Poldark, a redcoat who returns to Cornwall after the American Revolutionary War. I loved that show! Maybe If I wasn’t so distracted by the dashing, I-will-fight-for-my-people Ross Poldark, the name Truro might have stuck with me. Alas, it did not. But I digress.)
Zora loved Cornwall. She was surprised and delighted by the mystical vibe, telling me, “There’s a lot of hippie/Earth worshipper stuff there.”
What a perfect place to create the Greenwoman doll!
I visited Bee’s Facebook page and saw more of her artistry. She’s created dozens of one-of-a-kind dolls, including a custom Prince, Spock, Daenerys Targarian, John Snow, and a David Bowie. She also up-cycles secondhand dolls and says she enjoys using all her skills (sculpting, painting, and creating clothing and accessories) in one project. She says it’s “pure delight working on my dolls as their individual characters come to life,” and that she loves transforming “these little discarded toys, from head to toe, into the true and REAL beauties they deserve to be.”
On May 5th Bee wrote:
“I’ve made a start on the body tattoo and the doll’s face, still needs a few more layers on both to make them pop.
The little bra and skirt also made, pictured next to the doll. How short do you want the skirt? I’ve made it to come above the knee but can take it shorter.”
Wow, I thought, lovely. I was so pleased by how it was coming along, but . . . there was a problem. Her expression wasn’t the fun-loving smile I was thinking of. When this doll’s out on her Instagram adventures, I want her to look like she’s having a great time!
Within minutes I’d figured out how this happened. Bee had created her exactly like the logo, with a serious expression.
Bee hadn’t been able to read my mind.
I saw that I’d failed in describing what I wanted with the tattoos as well. While Bee had beautifully recreated Mike’s design, I was imagining colorful filled-in tattoos, like the Pict images in the last post. I hadn’t shared that information with Bee either, and she’d drawn outlines, exactly as in the logo.
Oh, no, I thought, I really messed up!
I sent her a longish letter telling her about my mistakes and apologizing, asking if she could make changes, telling her I’d be happy to pay extra. We also decided we’d prefer a little shorter skirt, mid-thigh.
Bee wrote back within an hour:
“Hi, yes, this is the early stages so can make those alterations. Giving her a smile and raising her brows slightly and was going to ask you about adding shading to the tattoo, so good to know that I can do that.”
She said she’d soon get to the questions I’d sent her too.
“I’m excited working on this project with you, it’s right up my street.”
Two days later, Bee sent me a message sharing a little about her life:
My actual name is Rebecca but everyone, including my family, calls me Bee. I didn’t like Becs or Becky so chose Bee when I started a new hairdressing job with someone else who worked there called Rebecca. So ever since, Bee has stuck, besides it suits me and I adore Bees, even if I am allergic to their stings.
I am also a freelance hairdresser specializing in vintage hair for weddings. [That business is called Beehave Hair. Adorable!—S.K.] Thank goodness for my doll business right now, keeping me in pocket whilst this lock down is in place ^>^
Here’s my FB shop page link if you’re interested- www.facebook.com/www.beehavehair.vpweb.co.uk/
As far as my dolls and art, I’ve always incorporated some form of art in my life, from making glass panels, stained glass, drawing comic books, sculpting, painting and the list goes on . . .
As a young girl, I have always felt that I could not relate to the dolls I was given to play with, so I would end up making my own using Plasticine or clay. In my creative works, later on in life, I have added clay to fashion dolls to enlarge them in my “Barb Plus More” art projects in 1996. I was part of quite a few art installations in London with my pieces—I would cast their reliefs onto walls in plaster or mold them into silicon rubber to make fuller figured dolls. These projects focused on the subject of the “Body Beautiful” and what was accepted in the world we live in.
So in 2015 a new movement to repaint dolls to be more suitable for young girls hit the circuit, which I jumped on with gusto. I got a big mention in Bored Panda and coverage on our West country ITV news and in the papers. I haven’t looked back since, my business is growing and growing, with inquiries everyday. Most of them become commissions, so busy busy Bee ^.^
I’ve been living here in beautiful Cornwall for seven years now, had to break away from the smoke of London. We love it here, so lucky, we can actually see the sea from our window, facing east, so the sunsets are amazing every day.
I’ll go a head and start filling in the tattoos with shading using greens and browns. I’ll update you with pics over the next few days. ^.^
I loved learning about Bee Hale! How lucky we are to be able to do this project!
I’m looking forward to the next step.
Filed under Art & the Garden, DIY, Green Artists, Love, Magic
Creating the Greenwoman Doll – Part I
It’s been the best of times and the worst of times to start a new business.
I’d been working on my new venture, Greenwoman Market, all through the winter. It is a a business that promotes earth-friendly Colorado businesses (you can read about it here). The launch was set for March, with the first big debut event scheduled for Saturday, March 14th.
Tragically, Colorado had its first death from COVID-19 on March 12th. Events were cancelled, one by one, in rapid succession.
My launch would not include gardening events and farmers markets; it would be via emails and social media.
Like many businesses owners I had to come up with new ideas, fast, and put my faith in “it’s all figureoutable.” Two weeks ago, I found myself chatting (well, Facebook messaging) with my sister-in-law, Sally Cato. She had seen the article mentioned above, and we were discussion marketing. When I mentioned that I couldn’t wait to visit some of these Colorado businesses and take photos for the new Instagram account I’d set up, even if I had to wear a mask and gloves, she asked if I had a Greenwoman statue that I could take with me to use in the photos.
“What a brilliant idea!” I wrote. I thought of those kidnapped globe-trotting gnomes that were a sensation in the 1990s. This is a fun idea! But no, I answered, I didn’t have a statue. We brainstormed; searched for appropriate figurines on Etsy and eBay. We considered a Mother Earth/Gaia, a green fairy . . . nothing seemed right.
Sally then suggested that I create something unique, something that couldn’t be easily copied. I agreed; that would be the way to go. That afternoon I messaged artist friends and learned how creating a one-of-a-kind small statue or figurine is not hard to accomplish these days. You could adapt something already made with air dry clay and you could create a resin mold. I was thinking that it could get expensive, but I was already committed to the idea—at least in seeing what the possibilities were for now. Maybe I could figure out what I wanted to do and save the money to do it before this summer.
As I puzzled over how to move forward, I told my daughter Zora about it. She said, “Why don’t you do a Barbie?”
Two brilliant ideas in one day! I remembered seeing an article about an artist who personalized dolls, stripped off their face paint, and repainted them to look realistic, changed their hair. This could be easier than I thought! This could be do-able now!
I looked in Etsy and found an artist, Bee Hale of Bee Real Dolls.
I really loved her work. Here’s what she did with a Made to Move Barbie, transforming it into Meghan Markle.
I wanted my doll to look like the Greenwoman logo.
A little backstory: Greenwoman Publishing’s logo was inspired by antique drawings of the legendary Picts—Celts who painted their bodies before going into battle. The images of these women warriors resonated with me; their bodies displayed natural and celestial designs, their vibe both lovely and ferocious. Here, I thought, was a female who could represent Greenwoman!
Jacques Le Moyne’s illustration, the all-over floral, was purely from his imagination (Le Moyne was a student of botany and ethnology). The first version is undoubtedly more accurate, but no one knows how much is lore, how much is fact. There’s almost no written history on the Picts, and some accounts read more like gossip.
(It didn’t matter; I loved the concept.)
Colorado Springs artist Mike Beenenga of Artistic Gold Creative Concepts created the Greenwoman logo. (The sword replaced with something mightier, the pen!)
This winter, Mike created the Greenwoman Market logo.
Could Bee translate these logos into a doll? I felt she could. I took the plunge and commissioned an order.
Bee recommended a Made to Move Barbie (very pose-able, which would be perfect for photo shoots). We both knew she had to be a more realistically proportioned, curvy Barbie!
The first question had to do with the bust size. Should I go for large breasts like the full-figured logo? Motherly breasts? My instinct was yes, and Sally also thought she should be round like an Earth Mother. I learned that Bee could make these modifications.
Should I or shouldn’t I?
I ordered a bigger bust line.
Then my daughters, in their 20s (and not mamas yet), disagreed. They said the mascot, which would basically be an Instagram model, should be “cuter,” less voluptuous, more family friendly. We looked up the Made to Move curvy Barbie and they liked the shape. So did I.
I wrote Bee telling her I’d changed my mind and didn’t want additional body sculpting.
Within a week, Bee (in England) had received the doll. She sent some photos. She re-rooted her hair, making it longer, right away. I loved the body shape.
Bee offered to make a bra top and skirt from some small print leaf fabric she had. I said that would be wonderful.
We decided the foliage tattoos would be earth tones, brown and green. When seeing the doll with more fabric samples, I thought that another leaf print (that I had okayed before seeing the doll with the prints) might turn out to be garish. Bee agreed, saying the colors of the tattoos and fabric could clash. I left the decision of what fabric to use with Bee.
My daughter Lily said she had to have green eyes. I was thinking brown. Lily has green eyes, so I jokingly said that’s why she wanted the doll to have green eyes. But then Lily pointed out, “She’s Greenwoman, that’s why her eyes should be green.”
Again, I agreed. Green they should be. I sent another note to Bee.
Her face, body tattoos, and clothing are coming soon! (Then I have to wait for her to arrive from England).
I played with Barbies a few times as a child but I never owned one. When I was at the age when I wanted them (ages 7-10), we were poor and couldn’t afford them, and by the time I was 11, and earning my own money through babysitting and chores, I had outgrown dolls. Now I find myself very excited to see what comes next! I’ve even ordered her a few outfits and a couple of inexpensive flower crowns. (I couldn’t resist!)
I am excited to see what Bee creates.
I also discovered that our mascot will have to have a proper name. That will be a fun contest down the road. For now, we wait for the next step . . .
Which includes, in the next post, finding out a little about the artist! ❤
Filed under Art & the Garden, DIY, Magic, photography
The Goddess Flora as Crone
Several weeks (at the beginning of our Stay at Home Orders in Colorado) I “met” Lisa Lister, Flora as Crone’s creator, via email. This happened through friend/poet/mother/ librarian/more Jessy Randall. (Thank you, Jessy, for, as you put it, introducing one “green woman” to another!) Lisa and I corresponded, got to know one another. Aside from being taken with her painting of Flora (a perfect fit for a Flora’s Forum post!) I learned we had connections as far as our vision for the future of gardens. We were both at a place where we were more attracted to “re-wilding” than gardening! More on that later; for now, enjoy Lisa’s creation of a broader and wiser vision of Flora!—S.K.K.
The Goddess Flora as Crone
Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers and fertility is overwhelmingly depicted in imagery as a youthful, innocent-looking, yet voluptuous maiden. (Hmmm…I wonder how many of those artists were men?) As she represents spring, it is, perhaps, understandable that Flora has been primarily represented as young. But why, I wondered, shouldn’t she be seen as growing old, a natural part of life? Shouldn’t we uplift not only the radiance and energy of a youthful woman, but also the seasoned and vibrant being of the same woman, but aged . . . an elder, a crone?
I envisioned the woman in my painting “The Goddess Flora as Crone” as sage, with many decades of experience. She helps usher in and oversees spring, protecting blossoms and assuring the seasonal abundance of flowers. I wanted her to exude the confidence of a woman in her full power, yet with a slightly impish and all-knowing glint in her eyes.
In this context, I have also reclaimed the word “crone” which, unfortunately, has degenerated to mean a disagreeable and ugly hag with malicious supernatural powers. Not so! I choose to define a crone as a wise woman, ordinary and yet extraordinary, one who has absorbed the energy of the green and growing earth, season after season, and who uses that abundant energy for good.
Lisa Fay Lister spent her childhood in Kansas, where vast open skies and wild thunderstorms soothed her soul, even as a young girl. In her gypsy-like twenties, her vision was to live in a peaceful, inclusive and egalitarian world. Her life journey has been joyfully circuitous, but she still holds fast to that utopian vision. Lisa is a retired academic librarian, and now paints in her backyard studio, surrounded by a yard that is slowly rewilding.
Filed under Art & the Garden, Garden Writers We Love, Mother Nature, Wisdom
Call Me Harry
A boy learns about real men—and gardening.
Call Me Harry
Dad overheard me calling our next door neighbor “Harry.”
“Never call an adult by their first name!” Dad scolded me in front of Mr. Wright, “It’s disrespectful.”
I was six or seven years old and agreed with Dad. Yet Mr. Wright had insisted that I, his little gardening buddy, should call him “Harry,” like a friend. After my dad left, he asked that I call him Harry just when my dad wasn’t around. “It’ll be our secret, Tawn,” he said in his warm down-east New England accent.
More often than not, his name came out of my mouth as “Mr. Harry.”
Dad was a white collar man, well-versed in propriety. A Yale educated architect, he rode the train into the city and worked in a skyscraper in a corner office with a great view. On weekends, Dad did mostly the same sort of things that Mr. Wright did. He’d clean gutters, rake leaves, fix things around the house, and fiddle with our ’59 Rambler station wagon, which he’d bought simply because it had the smallest tail fins of any car available that year. (Dad didn’t care for tail fins.) For fun, Dad would listen to classical music on his HiFi tube receiver, play chess, or draw dream houses in his study.
Both he and Mr. Wright were members of the “Greatest Generation,” World War II veterans, but they didn’t think of themselves that way at all. Now family men in their mid-30s, Dad had fought Hitler and National Socialism in Europe in his early twenties and he’d been in the Battle of the Bulge. Mr. Wright, a blue collar machinist, had been a machinist in the Navy and fought Imperial Japan in the Pacific. From there the differences between the two men, both good fathers, became more pronounced. Mr. Wright drank beer. Dad never did. Mr. Wright had mysterious tattoos that were earned, he said, in battles during the Pacific war. Dad eschewed tattoos and rarely swore. Mr. Wright sometimes swore, well, like a sailor.
But the gruff, flinty New England machinist did something more. Something Dad had no interest in. Mr. Wright grew gardens. He husbanded bursting green vegetable gardens and riotous flower gardens all around his home. In this he took a young lad under his wing and introduced me to the wonder and positivity of growing things.
He taught me how to weed.
“Pull from the base, Tawm, and only when the soil is wet, so you’ll get it all.” And then in his dry, down-East accent: “No, not that! That’s a daisy!” He also built his own greenhouse. Watching him work with the concrete and then the framing and glass, I was captivated by the thought of one man building a real structure by himself.
Mr. Wright had three daughters. Carol, the youngest, was a young teen and, to me, all grown up. I was waist high to her and she enjoyed my gullibility with some regularity. At Halloween, Carol made a dummy out of old clothes and soaked it with the hose. As I walked in deep darkness down the perfect ambush of Mr. Wright’s narrow garden path, barely able to see out of the eye slits of my Halloween mask, the sodden dummy swung out, wrapping flaccid clammy arms around my face and shoulders, nearly knocking me down! Before I could gather my wits to run, I’d done a little croaking dance to the god of adrenaline, then I took off like a shot! Behind me I heard the mocking laughter of hidden teens.
Gail, the middle girl, I never really knew. She always seemed to be out on some activity. But Pam, the Wright’s eldest, I just loved. Pam favored corduroy jumpers and turtlenecks and played the folk guitar. Pam would reach down and hug me whenever we met. Mrs. Wright, being a school teacher, once had Pam come and play guitar for our third grade class. She sat in front of the classroom in her jumper and bobbed hair and sang ballads in a clear, sweet voice.
Pam had something wrong with her heart, I was told, a prolapsed or a deviated something. Fixable today, in those days it could not be helped, and so one day Pam died. I was bewildered, deeply sad, and quite rattled by this. I hadn’t realized that people sometimes died, as in I’d never see them again, ever. How Mr. Wright felt, I never saw. He kept it to himself. Turning inward, he seemed overly quiet and far away at times, but still almost always happy to see the little neighbor boy who took an interest in him and his otherwise solitary garden work.
Mr. Wright gave me a larger view of the world of men. Real men cared for their families and were dependable workers, sure. But sometimes real men would have a beer. Not all wore a coat and tie. Some men wore dungarees, just like I did! Real men, I noticed, sometimes would not shave on the weekends. They could be gruff and testy and slow to smile. Some such men had strange tattoos, and they weren’t circus people! These were tattoos that they’d “earned,” and I learned not to ask “too many questions, by gaw”! Real men, I saw, were tight-lipped and stoical at the death of their beloved child. And I learned that real men grow gardens. Vegetables, to be sure. Victory Garden holdovers maybe, but also flowers. Real men could grow marigolds, tulips, crocuses, and a rose bush or two so that now and again, for no particular reason they could bring their wife a subtle, sweet-scented bouquet of beauty from the side yard.
Some real men, never very good at talking, let their garden do their talking for them. And this Mr. Wright’s garden did through the years with more depth, affection and sincerity than any words could muster.
* * *
Tom Preble is an essayist for many publications, including the The Denver Post, Sierra Club, Ag Journal, and many magazines and papers. Tom’s work has been nationally syndicated.
Filed under Garden Writers We Love, Wisdom
The road may twist, though on the rise
I turn, the sun shines in my eyes,
But then a hollow drops before,
And so I see the sun no more.
Could we but know the way to go,
Straight as the furrows farmers sow.
With detours neither left nor right,
And childlike sleep into the night.
— Virginia Gambardella
Virginia Gambardella lives in New York. She has one son, three grandchildren, and enjoys the following: people, holidays, antiques, nature, gardening, fishing, decorating, fashion, sharing knowledge, cooking, and baking. She’s a cancer survivor, a pancreatitis survivor, a widow, and the re-inventor of her life, “as necessary.”
Filed under Garden Writers We Love, Green Poetry
Ode to the Ginkgo Biloba tree and to her leaves
I was very happy to hear great news from dian today. She’s signed two book contracts in less than six weeks! Congratulations, dian! This is her favorite ode from her book of “odes to common plants,” honoring an ancient and beautiful tree that embodies romance, mystery, and magic for so many of us. ENJOY!
Ode to the Ginkgo Biloba tree and to her leaves
Now it comes to me that you fan-shaped leaves right in front of the Hermann’s house, in Brooklyn on New York Avenue next door to my old house cause we had a parking sign pole instead of a tree and there were those leaves now I know were from a Gingko Biloba tree—fell yellow. I didn’t know your name then or why your golden fall lobed leaves, like tiny Japanese paper fans, fell differently than the Giordano’s maple tree. Now feeling the fresh fall air just reminiscing about you. You are not like the maple, the sycamore, or the sweetgum tree. Thinking of always seeing you in yellow fall on the avenue with your parted cleavage scattering in sheer fall camisoles with one missed blouse button and though you are classy, you are from a street tree, a living fossil 350 million years old making you the oldest tree on earth from the era of dinosaurs. You are the earliest of my leaf-time memories of not thinking you were really a leaf. You Ms.—silver apricot—maidenhair tree, every leaf brings me right back to you.
— dian parrotta
Dian is a proud alumnus from the State University of New York’s Stony Brook University which had taken her for the first time away from Brooklyn. She also holds an M.A.T degree from George Mason University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Lindenwood University. She enjoys writing about the health benefits of eating delicious dandelions, broad-leaf plantain, purslane, garlic mustard, common nettle and the very tasty pigweed. She harvests words into odes that celebrate the common plants, trees, shrubs and roots. She does dream to retire from teaching after 30 years at a local high school within the next year or so to join her two sons, who are both living in Prague and in Madrid, Spain. She says she wouldn’t mind spending her retirement writing garden, flower and plant poems.
Filed under Garden Writers We Love, Green Poetry, Mother Nature