Sunday, August 5, 2012

Draco Hortus

"What is this we see?" you ask. These are the remains of two lovely okra plants mulched with large clumps of Emma's fur. The stalks were about three feet tall and crowned with beautiful, spreading leaves, and then one morning I found them like this, with about 18 inches of stalk remaining. The sweet potatoes were completely obliterated with no evidence they were ever in the garden. The Chinese long beans also met the same fate as last year, chewed off close to the soil, leaving abundant climbing vines to die on the trellis. Is it Buster again, the darling, naughty chipmunk? I think not. Buster wouldn't have been able to scale these slender stalks without breaking them under his weight. I thought about deer, but the aluminum fence is topped with pointy tips and the scale of the garden is only 5'x8' up against a brick wall, so there would be no room for a deer to clear the fence without hitting the wall.

Then I remembered his face -- glaring, lurking each time I came out to the garden, and I knew who had been sampling my veggies -- a garden dragon. Unlike the skink-like creatures with the blue tails we often see around here, Draco Hortus (his name, henceforth) has a nubby, horned gray face  and a long tail. Draco is more like a smallish iguana, and would be easily able to climb anywhere he likes. Since I got the bright idea to spread my dog's coat around the garden I think I've spoiled his fun. I no longer see much evidence of his philandering, and I haven't seen his greedy little face in a while. I'm glad of this discovery, since there's no shortage of dog hair around my house. When I sweep, I often imagine I could stuff a pillow or create a new puppy from the pile. It's nice to have a more practical use for it.

In happier garden news, I have had success with tomatoes and cucumbers so far, and the radishes are looking good too. We cleaned up the rest of our yard a bit and here are the results:

A new stone path and a patch of begonias . . .

 The stone steps down to the lower part  of the yard . . .

We trimmed some trees so we can actually see the house from the street now. It all feels much cleaner and was way overdue.

I recently made it through another milestone -- my first birthday without my mom. As expected, the days leading up to it were rough. Every year, a day or two before my birthday, my mom would call me to tell the same story again, where she was however many years ago on that very day. She was heavy with me, and bursting with excitement, and couldn't wait to meet me. Then, on the day itself, I'd get a message on the machine with no speaking, only sweet Jeanine singing, "Happy Birth - day to you!", every last word of it in a staccato cadence. Through the sound of her voice we could hear her smiling from ear to ear. A year ago when she left the message for my 46th birthday, I had no idea it would be the last. I am so blessed to have had each moment I shared with her.

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