Bright sunshine. After days of rain and drizzle, exuberance. Fiddleheads, oak-leaf rhodies, river birch, the sweet bay magnolia, my darling peony, blue turtleheads, alders, azaleas, cedum, hostas, inkberries, even that scrawny Japanese maple I thought'd fallen victim to the ice storm last winter. Watch 'em stretch, sprout, and converse. You think plants don't talk? Shoot, these guys got more to say than most humans I been listenin to. Watch 'em puttin' on the ritz and doin' a little dip. Oh darlin the Virginia Creeper is creepin but I don't care, I'll cut it back another day! There's Mr. Bullfrog croakin in his creek, Mr. Bumblebee buzzin in his blossom, and Mr. Crow laughin on his limb. (Their ladies are tendin to more important matters. It's boys who make noise.)
Quist used to say, "Hey poot, ever notice how crows are the perfect audience? If you're silly they laugh, if you're serious they listen, and if you're boring, they take off." I thought to myself, you gotta be kidding -- crows are worse'n drunks in a jazz club who won't shut up during Deep in a Dream. They're always talkin.
Seems just right that all this is goin on as we come up on Mother's Day. It's been thirty-five years since we laid my mom's ashes in the ground. You think I'm being sentimental if I believe there's a little bit of her in the garden? Or just realistic? The Great Wheel of Life and all that. Somedays when I get sleepy I see her through my closed eyes -- she looks like Ronee Blakely in Altman's Nashville. Standing in front of her trellised rose, wearing a mysterious smile, her hair up. Of course, she looked nothing like that, even before the cancer had eaten her down to bare bones. But the mind has its own way of blooming.
I haven't seen Nashville in over twenty years and I haven't been to the city of Nashville in seven even though I've got friends there. And I can't find my copy of that wonderful anthology that Jamaica Kincaid edited, My Favorite Plant. It seemed the perfect gift for someone who gardens. This morning, under this beneficent sun, I want to hold that solid book in my hands, open it to a random page, read a few paragraphs, and close my eyes. Breathe deep and take in the full fragrance of the early garden. Listen to it.
You think I'm being sentimental, poot? I'm not. I'm being realistic.