Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Shop second hand - 2: Garden Aid

Little feathered swine. Since our cat passed on around 2008 we have a lot more birds in the yard & we love that. We enjoy watching them & we feed them all year. I tell them "howdy" when I come out in the mornings & they don't even seem frightened. Why then, must the blackbirds ravage my new planted seeds & sprouts? Okay - because that's their nature, of course, & it looks like a lot more fun to freak out birdbrain style & toss the dirt all around than to politely peck at what's in the feeding bottle or on the ground. Talk about down & dirty - they almost burrow into the boxes & patches, even pull up my baby spinach. Spinach! Blackbirds! I never knew they had those appetites.

The long & short of it is, the seedlings need shelter. I always shop second hand, so off I went. Had to go 3 places before I found a great big lace curtain for 30 Dkr. or about $5. I am sure that's a lot cheaper than anything they would sell off a roll in a garden center or hardware store. I cut off big strips & covered 2 beds plus 2 flowerboxes. There is still plenty left. It looks appealingly tacky - big lace flowers among the real flowers - & it does the job.

So there it is again. SHOP SECOND HAND  & do our earth a favor. It saves money & I suspect I am the only gardener on my street with a lace curtain doing bird duty. Silly - absolutely - but it IS kind of fun to be the one with the good ideas, not? Especially at this age. Creativity counts, besides which, I have never grown my own spinach before. No blackbird is going to spoil that!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Poetry for May

Here's a little poetry to celebrate the arrival of May; 2 poems by 2 poets I go back to again & again, but it was not always thus.
        I fell for Robert Browning as a teenager in high school & Pippa's Song was most likely the poem that did it. Moving on, I wrote my university thesis on his dramatic monologues, the ones where the speakers are Italian renaissance artists - Fra Lippo Lippi & Andrea del Sarto. Checked out their lives & paintings too, so the title was something like Browning as Art Critic. He was an astute critic as well as brilliant poet with an understanding of & affection for humanity & its little ways. I appreciated his own love story, the way he spirited his true love away from her domestic prison & off to Italy where they lived, thrived, reproduced & wrote, but ...
       Elizabeth Barret Browning's poetry did not move me. Her poems seemed either self-consciously pathetic or plain sappy. The sonnet below headed the second category. I would never slip it into my own true love's valentine; it was too much, too sentimental, too quasi-religious, too - sappy. I said that to my teenage sweetheart's darling mother, who was an older lady & a teacher.
        "Honey," she protested, "That girl was in love!"
        Well, that much was obvious & did not change sappy.

Here they are, his & hers, wonderful. As for Pippa's Song, yes, I still believe God's in his heaven but would hardly claim All's right with the world. It isn't. It can look that way on a lovely breezy day in May in a country where most people are quite all right, thank you, or at any rate can choose their own direction to a very great degree. That is not the way most of the world is.
       Sonnet XLIII (From the Portuguese) expresses a love as passionate as childhood faith that yet might have been lost with childhood's lost saints. Wow! That moves me now. I had to reach a certain age & also, of course, a long running relationship - otherwise it was just another love poem. Wouldn't it be nice to maintain our childhood faith unquestioned? It would, but don't know anyone who has; I sure haven't. Some saints got lost, though God's in his heaven (doing what, forcryingoutloud?). Some saints stay to call on when all is not right with the world (but they can't change it). Both things must be accepted, thought through, wrestled with even. Wouldn't it be nice if love had only ups & no (crashing) downs? We think so, but maybe that would just be boring. It can last - that's the thing - & now I can love Elizabeth as much as I do her husband.
           Enjoy the poetry. It doesn't get better than this:
 Song from Pippa Passes - Robert Browning
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his heaven;
All's right with the world.

Sonnets from the Portuguese, XLIII  - Elizabeth Barret Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, - I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! - and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.