her nascent jewels,
twists the aging vines
and smiles sweet content:
snailseed brilliant in red;
peppervine’s glossy black twining;
purpled lantana, amethyst drupes
for the love of a season soon leaving.
Lovely though the flower of the deep-rooted sedge may be, the plant often becomes invasive. When that happens, it deserves to be dispatched, but its very attractiveness can lead to a certain dithering among those who encounter it on their property. At such times, a variation on the advice offered by Peg Bracken, household management maven of the 1960s, proves helpful. “When in doubt, throw it out,” she liked to say. In the case of the unwelcome sedge, “When in doubt, dig it out,” would work just as well.
Like all good aphorisms, Bracken’s has endured over time and seems infinitely adaptable, even beyond the realm of plant management. I’ve grown fond of my own variation for writing: “When in doubt, leave it out.” It’s not only good editing advice, it’s far less harsh than, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” (more…)
Dissolving into the late afternoon heat, a sweet stench of rotting fruit thickened the air, rendering it palpable as withered petals fading and dropping from the passiflora. Torpid among the vines, bees buzzed erratically, seemingly ambivalent about their task. Like the bees, I’d come to work, but I suspected none of us would be disappointed when darkness brought labor to an end.
After days of rain, alleyways between the rows of melons, tomatoes, and eggplant remained soggy: rich in puddles, and riddled with crawdad chimneys. Though good for still-ripening figs, water was bringing an end to the abundant tomato crop. Soggy as the ground, their skins splitting, fruit fell to the ground or fell to pieces at the first hint of a touch. Finding still-firm tomatoes required concentration, and the development of a rhythm: search, test, pluck, bucket. (more…)
Perhaps walk isn’t quite the right word. March, perhaps. Or trek. Perhaps even creep would do, despite the word’s slightly passive connotation.
Whichever word you choose, watching Dutch artist Theo Jansen’s kinetic sculptures trundle across a beach is akin to witnessing some strange, primordial creature emerge from the mire and muck of a forgotten world and make tracks for higher ground.
His creations, called Strandbeests, or beach animals, are constructed from PVC pipe. Through a progression of refinements, including the addition of lemonade bottles, he’s helped them evolve into mobile, wind-powered creatures that seem filled with life. When first encountered, they astonish, compel, and amuse: scuttling over the landscape like giant, improbable crabs.