Monday, April 22, 2013

Outside the Walls

Lately, as I've been driving to work, the opening line of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" has been running through my head: "Something there is that doesn't love a wall." One day last week, I especially thought of that poem as I headed to the office after a lovely morning walk with Tippy. I'd been struck by the colors of the Florida sunrise. It's often smooth blue with hints of pink. But on Thursday there were a few scattered clouds, and they were deep plum, underlit by a burnished rosy pink. As we continued on the walk and the day began to brighten, the pink became a vermilion; the sky lit up. The air was perfect, the breeze soft on my skin. On days like this, I invariably think of what it would be like to work all morning in the garden.

But, like the narrator of another Frost poem asserts, "I [had] promises to keep," and so I drove in to work, where I entered a building, walked down tight hallways, and stepped into my cubicle. When I sat down, I thought, "Yes, Mr. Frost. Something there is that doesn't love a wall. In fact, something there is that loathes it."

I will forever hate cubicles. No one can explain to me what good purpose they serve. They provide only a pretense of privacy. They don't keep the distractions of others talking at bay. They separate us from our colleagues. As I brood on it, I recall the narrator's words in "Mending Wall" again:

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know 
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down. (lines 32-6)

I want those walls down, want to be outside of them. I understand that for a person like me, the walls are necessary. Without them, I'd be gazing out on the nearby lake, watching the tall grasses bend in the breeze. My thoughts would quickly turn to my garden, and I would accomplish nothing. The cubicle serves as my blinders, keeping my mind off of the beauty outside and more on the work in front of me. Good walls may make good workers, but they don't make me happy.

Outside those walls, in my garden every single day, something new unfolds. I feel like I've done very little work there this past week, but things in the garden have their own blinders, working well enough without me. The Pink Cascade Weeping Peach tree, but a bare root introduction to the garden this time last year, is now four feet tall and putting on leaves and flowers. 

The first flower on the weeping peach tree
The potatoes are growing furiously, and I'm finding it a little difficult to keep up with the earthing up required to keep those lovely tubers they are producing beneath the soil. Apparently, my grandpa, who was a farmer, often said that if you stood out in a field of corn, you could hear the corn growing. It grew that fast. I'm beginning to think the same of my potatoes, and I love that they make me think of my grandpa.

The potatoes are coming!

The zucchini plants are coming along nicely, though I cannot understand why most of them look rather normal, while one of them looks a bit like a Gunnera plant. I am not especially concerned about its gargantuan size, mind you. After all, that just means that the flowers are considerably larger and therefore have more space for stuffing fresh mozzarella or Boursin cheese inside before I dredge them in my homemade batter and fry them for a little appetizer. I keep telling myself that I need, at the very least, to let the female flowers produce their fruit, but I'm currently addicted to stuffed zucchini flowers and cannot resist raiding the plants.

Hello, future appetizer
Zuke flowers, Boursin-stuffed, battered, fried, & ready for eating
My tomato plants, which are the same ones I grew from seed beginning in August 2012, are still producing delicious fruit. They are beginning to show signs of slowing down, but I still see new clusters forming each morning as I make the rounds.

The tomatoes' early morning greeting
As the garden gets on with its work, I get on with mine at the weekend. I finished the enclosure for the rain barrel. The door is on, the other side of the structure built, the green roof waterproofed and planted. I'm pretty pleased with the result.

One more item off of my to-do list
I made several gallons of compost tea last week, and once the rains move out here, I'll be giving everything a delicious helping of my healthy brew. Tippy has been my ever-faithful companion while I work, making the rounds with me, checking on the plants. When we have a few moments to sit and relax, we return to the secret garden, where our memorial to Wolfie is. Tippy seems to know the exact spot, as she invariably lies down in the field of alyssum surrounding it, even though I beg her not to squash the flowers.

Always near her Wolfie
You will never find us mending any walls here. We like to be out in the open. Outside those cubicle walls I dislike, inside my garden, we are mended every day by the beauty that surrounds us. 

Anything you'd like to see next week from my garden? Any questions you'd like me to try and answer? Just leave me a note here.


  1. Yes, I have a question: Where do I sign up for the zuccinni dinner? I particularly this one, especially how you injected a little family history into it! And a word about cubicles: Media Center! Okay, that was two words.
    Keep the hits coming, they just keep getting better, even though your readers think they just can't...

  2. She blushes...

    I've longed for stuffed zucchini flowers, and I've always had some zucchini plant tragedy to dash my hopes. Not this year. Come for dinner whenever you want!