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Monday, April 30, 2007

It seems fitting to post pictures of flowers that I meant to post while they were still blooming, but never got to...antique daffodils at Malabar Farm.

It’s a day. I'm turning over the big heavy rock of my life and peering at all the things that crawl and slither and hide from the light. My greenhouse is stuffed with overheated, overgrown flowers needing to go into the ground. Weeds are thickening and leaping to cover the plants I love. The lawn needs to be mowed again, five days after the last mow. The half-tilled garden is alive with bindweed and goosefoot. I've got to till it and get the beans planted. Pond filter's clogged; Bird spa's full of mourning dove ca-ca and gurgling helplessly. The kids need to be fed immediately, then get driven to T-ball and softball practice, a mere 10 miles away, where I will sit on an aluminum bleacher for two hours, smiling and giving Liam the thumb's up, trying not to think of all the things I should be doing instead. Baker rolled in something awful and will need another bath tonight. I don’t even have to lean down and sniff his left shoulder to know. He crawls under the dresser and stares at me with red-rimmed eyes; he stands on the bathroom scale with his head hidden behind a hanging towel. Just the words “Did you roll?” send him into a googly-eyed, ears-down picture of dejection. “Yes, Mether. I wanted a bath. And you are the only person who can bathe me.”Baker, apres bath, feeling much better.

Spring goes on as if there were some kind of deadline to meet. A few twisted, dwarfed racemes have opened on the frost-blasted lilac, enough to give me that little whiff of the divine, of what might have been. The bleeding heart is trying to bloom for the second time, having been rendered into limp yellow plant spaghetti the first time it sent its strong shoots skyward. Looks like it's well on its way to taking over its ten square feet of the perennial bed. Everything seems to be accelerating toward something, this rush to bloom and set fruit and prosper; the sun climbing high in the sky and the temperature rising. It all seems to be going too fast for me. Winter, straight into summer, the springtime stolen away by an icy thief.
Blue hepatica, long done now. This was the bluest hepatica I'd ever seen. Look at its wooly new leaves. Mohican State Forest, Ohio.

I look around the place. For the first time, I seriously consider hiring someone to help. Or an entire staff. Mow, plant, weed, run the tractor, cut or bulldoze the multiflora rose and wisteria and trumpetvine, poison ivy and Japanese honeysuckle that’s taking over our meadow and closing in from three sides on our house. Are there still handymen around? I could use about five of them. While I’m at it, I’d like to find a cleaning person who wouldn’t steal my jewelry or suck my will to live. Who could help me keep up with the cascade of dirty clothes and towels and bathmats and sports equipment and optics and toys and dog chewies that crunch and roll underfoot, the greasy sinks and glubby toilets and floors crying to be scrubbed. The balance on this place, inside and out, has definitely tipped toward the plant kingdom, and it looks like somebody’s weekend country home that they come to when they can, and mow maybe once a month. It takes a lot to overwhelm me, but I’m overwhelmed. The truth is, having a personal heaven is a hell of a lot of work. Most of the time, I just get down and deal with it. I like riding around on the mower, I like weeding and planting and tending things. I clean a lot, though I like it less and less. Being in constant motion is my resting state. But tonight, I feel very small, and this house and 80 unkempt acres feels very, very big.
Bloodroot, just a memory.

I decide to get up tomorrow, when I open my eyes at 5:30, and just get dressed and start dealing with it, one thing at a time. No lying in the dark, listening to the dawn chorus and thinking. If I can get the house picked up and the cleaning started, I’ll let myself plant the gladiolus bulbs and the two tall delphiniums, royal blue, that I bought. I’ll let myself make a couple of hanging baskets of miniature Swiss ivy geranium and bluest lobelia. I’ll pretend I’m giving orders to a hired staff, and try to ignore the fact that I’m the staff. For all of you out there who are feeling steamrolled by the fact that summer, with all its sweaty hubbub, is ever so suddenly here, you are not alone.


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