Slan Leat DogElderWoodBerry

Nina Simone sings “you know how I feel,” as I see the branches off my mystery bushes out back come down, one painful snip at a time. My partner takes the long handled clippers we bought last year to trim back the wild rose bushes in the front yard that inevitably grew over into my neighbor’s yard (I saw a statistic recently that the average space between Brooklyn homes is around 25 inches. Roses do not care).

We have made the difficult decision to bring these curious two grand bushes up out of the ground in the back yard. I did a little research last year on what they were (no conclusion there), and whether I might be able to transplant them somewhere (no takers). They were a birthday present from a dear friend of mine several years ago to help me put up more of a barrier than the wire fence that separated my yard from my neighbors when neighbors were moving into the house that had been empty since I moved in. I put up the bushes, and later a wooden fence. Good fences do make good neighbors, but an aging, sagging chain link fence with a couple new twiggy bushes in front of them, did not make a good fence.  So a fence roughly 6 feet tall now separates my mystery bushes in the backyard from my neighbors’ often wandering squash.  The squash still crawls up the phone post and, once a year, she knocks gently on the door and tiptoes gingerly through the house to climb a ladder and hack them down with the most wicked and destructive pair of gardening shears I’ve ever seen.  That’s always around Ramadan, and I can usually count on a plate piled high with fish with tiny white bones (which, while a bit of a nuisance, are well worth the flavor they bring), resting on a bed of softly wilted rich green squash leaves, soaking up the salty juice surrounding the fish.

Now that I’ve lived next to the neighbor for some five years, share recipes with her, bring her dishes I’ve made when I think they won’t tempt her strict Halal diet, and always attend each others’ family birthday parties, the triple-layer chain link, wooden, and bush fence are no longer need. And down the bushes come to make room for small feet, small paws, maybe some plants. And, as I watch my partner finish his tedious work, I think back on the time I’ve had with these bushes which I have variously called dogwood or elderberry, though no positive identification ever could be made. Most of my time with them was spent realizing I’d missed the very small window of time to pick the berries (which of course would be a good thing if it turned out they were dogwood, some of which a small contingent claims are poisonous, though it’s hotly debated). Some of the time was spent admiring their pretty spray of white flowers but that’s a very short period of time later in the summer. More time was spent trying to keep the top leaves off the bottom of my clothes drying on the clothesline. So, all in all, I will miss them but I think it’s time they go and therefore time for me to let them go.

This is a good practice, anyway, to occasionally let things go to make room for new and better things to come into your life. It took me a long time to learn this but I did with about a year in clutterbusting therapy (which I highly recommend to anyone and everyone).

In the meantime, I watch the last of the big branches fall as Dianne Reeves sings in her bluest velvety voice, “Don’t cry. There’ll be another spring. I know our hearts will dance again. And sing again. So wait for me till then.” Good-bye mystery bush. Thanks for the helping me welcome in the springtimes.

I hope it’s not bad luck to do this on St. Patty’s Day.



201 and 1 has 25

GROWING A GARDEN OF WORDS.  Contribute your word for the year to reveal our revelgarden…

1. Illuminati
2. Zombies
3. Mathy-apolisrevelgardener
4. Anonymous
5. Kardashian
6. “Really?”
7. Irene
8. Scribbling(s)
9. HOT!
10. Frustrating
11. “Like,”
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I’m Gonna Eat My Houseplants!

Yay!  Happy Friday to me!  I just got the good (Googled) news that Begonias are edible.  This, my revel friends, I did not know.  I got them this summer just because they were pretty, seemed sturdy, and added a pop of color to my garden.  Not gonna tell you what I’m going to do with this exciting news, but it’s gonna be yuuuuuuuummmmmmmmy!  thank you, God (& Shannon’s on Ft. Hamilton Pkwy.), for begonias…

and check out this blog, titled Eat the Weeds and other things too…I like!

And you, now that we’re getting close to being home-bound, and you find yourself inspecting house plants and other items, are you encountering any surprise edibility?  Go ahead … gimme the dirt (just don’t make me eat it, I think)….

Plants: Feline or Canine?

I just took a rare 20-30 minutes alone and sat on my upstairs terrace, sitting with nothing to eat or drink or read or write or distract me.  I just sat, breathing in the late summer night.  There used to be a big pine tree I loved that kept me hidden from view on the terrace.  I didn’t mind that my view was obstructed.  I usually went there looking for privacy, not to street or people watch.  Tonight the night hid me.  And I thought about plants.  Some of them I baby more than others.  The zinnias out front, the lettuce out back which has loved me back tenfold, and the tomatoes who have been showering me with their appreciation this past month.

And then there are the ones that just always seem to get pushed to the end of the list, which I often don’t reach.  I’m usually remembering these guys as I’m racing down the block to the F train, or after I’m snuggled in bed.  So tonight I spent a little time with them, observing but not really doing anything other than turning them around to give them a good sunward stretch.  Surprisingly, they all seem to be loving my neglect.  There’s a jalapeno plant in a large container that just gave me a couple bowlfuls of fruit.  There’s also a cayenne pepper plant that wintered inside and I set on the terrace just to give a final good-bye.  There’s a couple nice plump peppers waiting to be picked on the plant I formerly left for dead.  There’s also a habanero out there because I hadn’t yet decided where to reuse the soil.  It gave me a weird little – I’m guessing cross pollinated – bell/habanero-like thing earlier this summer.  I’m keeping it going just cuz it keeps me guessing .  Everyone out on the terrace is having a grand old time, whether I’m paying attention or not.  They’re felines.

My front yard, however, is full of canines.  At least that’s the way they’re behaving this year.  All they want is all of my attention all the time.  The hostas, who usually can withstand any near death experience or slow torture, spent half the summer telling me they couldn’t take the heat.  Their leaves went into shock (and back again eventually).  They’re sturdy, and they seemed to have weathered it okay in the end.  I did spend several weeks this summer in a spin of shame.  I mean, it’s bad when you can’t get a hosta to look good.  It was painful.  The roses, I am finding out, are definitely dogs.  It was a drama queen for the last few weeks, looking at me accusingly whenever the zinnias got a little extra attention.  So it got a nice long bath, replete with vegetable/flower spikes, some sweet nothings whispered to its stems, its leaves lovingly caressed till I must have got too intimate and it halted me with a thorn.  But lo and behold, whenever it gets this one on one time, as if out of nowhere the most beautiful sweetly scented buds appear.  Ah, she’s a revel gardener’s best friend (hope my dog isn’t reading this .. she’ll be pissed!).

As I feel autumn inch its way into the evening air, I know very soon I’m going to be missing my leafy friends.  Each one, of the feline or canine persuasion, has given back more than I dreamed in life lessons and, in many instances, literal sustenance this summer.  I can only hope I honor them sufficiently by taking their lessons to friends and progeny in the seasons ahead.