Star Child Awarded 2013 Nautilus Medal
Star Child has been selected for a 2013 Nautilus Silver Medal Award. The award program, whic…
I sat alone at my dining table after a taxing two and a half day drive to the Vineyard. It was an exquisite May evening, the last rays illuminating the newly occupied osprey nest and the tops of pine trees and oaks. The front door was thrown open to welcome the crisp air as it swept away the cobwebs of a long winter away. I regarded the salad, my first harvested from my very own garden. I had sought out the garden first, before even unloading my car. There I found tender pea shoots, mint, romaine, arugula, baby kale and spicy mustard. I had planted these hurriedly that April afternoon before the rains came and the journey homeward to Chapel Hill. And now I was to partake of these gifts along with a small container, rummaged from my freezer, of lamb braised with olives and fennel. A blessing seemed redundant.
The garden was a gift from my husband, Buck, for our fortieth anniversary. He had been badgering me to tell him what I wanted. Surely some special piece of jewelry was what he had in mind. But no, the only thing I wanted was more flowers and some vegetables right in our own back yard.
This proved to be quite a task and one that I could not have accomplished without the expertise and work of Gary Mottau, neighbor, garden wizard, earth mover. We had discussed the land, my preferences for flowers, how each element on our small plot related to the other. What were our priorities for the use of each space? What did each space reveal to us about its purpose? There was a lot of editing to do- overgrown shrubs, invasive weeds, misplaced plants, rock walls that needed shoring up, soil that needed amending. And then it became clear that some irrigation was necessary for new plants needing some consistent watering when I was not in residence.
I like working this way-creating a garden that makes use of existing elements, nestling in between locust and dogwood, rounding into the natural contours of the land, opening up vistas to giant glacial rocks, defining a sacred grove of oaks. Gary’s innate understanding of these elements and his diligent work in laying the foundations of the garden will manifest for many years to come. Plus he always seems to know exactly when to stop by and stake the peas or install the rabbit fence, disappearing just as suddenly into his truck for his next round of assignments.
I have always thought that gardeners were natural meditators. Mindful attention, the smell of earth and herbs, the drone of bees, the repetitive task of weeding or planting has a way of sneaking into your brain and turning off stress responses. What could be better than bathing our consciousness in the sound of wind and the sight of growing things? What we plant today, however small, does indeed with care and attention, yield something precious months or even years later when we have long forgotten the first moment when the seedling is placed in the dirt. Planting a garden is as much about faith in a bountiful future as it is about the present realities of weeds, and pests and a scorching sun.
I am out every day weeding, harvesting, inspecting and smiling. I lose track of time, but not place. Being able to cut my own flowers feels a lot like winning the lottery. My rooms are graced with lilacs, irises, rhododendron and poppies. Some of these have grown here for decades and attending to them with pruning and fertilizers in recent years have produced abundant blossoms. I eagerly await the next round of blooming things.
Even though I am just learning the names of some of the perennials and identifying which green sprouts are weeds and which are bell peppers, I have begun to muse about another plot for strawberries and asparagus and blueberries. The first squash blossoms appeared this week and I have already shared some of the bounty with neighbors. For a cook such as I, the garden grounds me deeply in a source of great inspiration. It is a completion of a cycle. .. or maybe just the beginning of another.