Nice to take a look back to the flowers of summer. Hard, right now, with the cold and the rain and the wind, to believe we’ll ever have summer.
I’m glad I take pictures because I find them very comforting in the chilly nights of November.
The most reliable flowers we have got are daylilies. Some of the cultivars have gone wild and you can find them in the parks along the rivers. Otherwise, the roses — once they get started — really hang on until the first snow. We get lots of columbines and for some reason, this year, the rhododendrons really took off. I guess they finally reached “full-grown” and it only took them 18 years — probably more like 20 since they were here when we moved in.
We moved them to a better — sunnier — location, but otherwise, this year, they grew like crazy and even bloomed a second time in October.
November is a funny month. We’ve had some very warm months … almost like summer, at least for the first half, though usually it drops down and gets cold by the time we get to Thanksgiving.
When we lived in Boston, November 18th was a “shorts and tee-shirt” day. We walked from our apartment to a local bar for lunch and visiting local friends. It was almost 80 degrees (26.7 Celsius) when we went into the bar. Two hours later, we left the bar. It had dropped forty degrees and it kept dropping. We ran home as fast as we could. The warm November weather ended in two hours in the middle of a Wednesday in November.
This year, it has been cool most of the month. Although some of the roses are still blooming, everything else is gone. The trees are bare, except for the little Japanese maple. The television meteorologists are beginning to mutter about snow.
Oh no! Not snow! But at least we got the leaves cleaned up. Imagine the snow on top of the millions of oak leaves.
It isn’t unusual for us to have snow on Thanksgiving. I hope this isn’t one of “those” years. Talk about “unready!”
Often, through the endless winter, Maggie had been sure her garden would never bloom again. As the frozen ground showed no signs of softening in spring sunshine and clumps of dirty brown snow lay on the earth, she would look at the garden and think: “This year, it can’t bloom. Too cold for too long. Too much ice and snow. And I have not been able to work with it, either.”
The overgrown disorder of the last year’s growth was still thatched across the garden. It had rained so much last year they’d been unable to clear it, so it had stayed there, mulching its way through the winter as they mulched with it.
Despite this and her nearly terminal certainty of imminent doom and total destruction, the garden would suddenly return. Everything bloomed at once. Roses and rhododendrons and daylilies and even the daffodils and columbine.
Flowers suddenly bloomed. In some of the worst years when winter had lain on the ground through most of May, those awful, bitter winters? In those years, the garden would bloom all at once with a frantic and wild passion as if it making up for the lost weeks of normal growth, for the dead months when they had been unable to set a single bud.
One day, she would come downstairs and out the gate and gasp at the amazing colors, how the roses had covered the buses like blankets. That the holly was almost a full story tall and even the miniature lilac bushes and thrown a flower or two.
It gave her hope in a world where the sun rarely shined and she prayed only that the well would not be polluted from something poured into the ground, seeping slowly into that fragile layer of underground water.
Their source of life was down there. In her case more than 450 feet down there, one of the deepest wells in the area. Their water had always been clear and ice-cold after it rose from the underlying rocks.
Was this barrenness a forerunner to one more garden? One more summer when the heat didn’t burn the earth to cinders?
She could only watch and wait. Each year was different. One year, it never stopped raining and after a while, the ground felt like a giant sponge, soft and gooey. Then there would be years of drought, leaving all of them wondering if the underground miracle of water would survive.
It was the very early days of the first week in May. In normal years — sometimes called “the old days” — she’d have already seen her early flowers. The garden would have moved on from crocus to daffodil and would now be full of Columbine and the green shoots of daylilies. The old lilac outback would be about to bloom.
But maybe, one more year, the earth would catch its breath and everything would grow again. Maybe the rivers would fill up and somehow, as if they too were seeds waiting to be born, fish would be there and snapping turtle. The geese and the swans and the herons would fish and flocks of ducks would magically float down with the current.
All she could do was wait and never give up hope. the Earth would come back. After all, it always had.
I haven’t read the official report, but I’ve read a lot of summaries and I wasn’t at all surprised by any of it. Twelve years left and then we can’t “save the earth.”
I consider it highly unlikely we’ll make that deadline.
I was one of the enthusiastic founders of the original Earth Day. Over the years, as we have cleaned up a lot of the inland waterways — the Blackstone and Hudson Rivers are two notable successes — and cleaned up the air around New York and on the west coast — I knew we weren’t making progress fast enough, but at least I could believe we were trying to head in the right direction.
Now with the big orange dictator setting up the world for extensive additional pollution, I wonder how quickly we will bring about our own doom?
People are the problem.
Our misuse of the earth, our pollution of the waters, our coughing up of coal dust into the air? People. Human beings. We did it, are doing it, and are unlikely to stop.
No other animal has polluted anything. Just people.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
— English Standard Version, Old Testament (Torah)
I’m not religious, or at least not in any traditional sense. Moreover, I don’t think the seven books of the Old Testament — the Torah — are close to the whole story. I have a lot of backup for this belief. It is widely believed there were hundreds of biblical books, most of which were destroyed during the first burning of the Great Temple. And then again, whatever was left were burnt in Alexandria. Even the memories of what was remembered died with the old Rabbis between the Crusades and the Holocaust.
Hundreds of other books that were equally as holy as the seven we currently revere were burned, buried, destroyed. Do you think maybe they had something to say to us? Maybe this bit of text was not intended to tell us to exploit and despoil every inch of earth and every animal on the planet?
We have dominion over the earth, but we have not ruled the earth so much as destroyed it and now, it’s on the edge of fighting back.
I read a report recently about how well the area around Chernobyl has revived. Without human habitation, it has blossomed and wildlife has returned in plenitude. It’s not that the radioactivity has vanished, but that somehow, the world finds a way to move forward, radioactivity and all.
It turns out the earth can handle nuclear devastation. The only thing that it can’t manage is us.
This report does not offer us a lot of turnaround time — a mere dozen years. Perhaps you can take comfort in that although the earth may well become untenable as a place for human habitation, once it extracts us, it will be beautiful again as it was when we lived in the Garden of Eden, right below the mountains bordering Syria.
I have, by the way, been there. It’s an incredibly beautiful place where the underground waters that feed the Jordan river fountain up from the earth and wild bee-eaters take flight.
There are two signs on the path to the place.
In Hebrew, the words are “גן עדן” meaning “garden of Eden.”
The other sign says, in English, “Paradise.”
I felt, being there, that indeed if there was an Eden, this could be it.
It’s coming into Autumn now, so most of the blossoms are gone and the bright leaves will (I hope) come soon. So far, all I see are a few yellow leaves. Nothing in the red or orange category. But the fall is still young.
So what could be better than pink fuchsia? We grew these the last year we were able to buy fuchsia. It was the year of the invasion of the gypsy moth caterpillars which consumed every edible hardwood tree on our property and I think would have, had they had the teeth for it, have consumed us, too.
The next year, last year, I blew our budget and had the house and the trees around the house sprayed for caterpillars and we were spared the worst of the invasion.
These pictures were taken exactly two years ago, the last year I was able to find anyone who was selling fuchsia. I’ve had other plants that were beautiful, but none as beautiful as the fuchsia.
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