among the seedlings and birdsong


These May mornings are gifts, the sun over Mount Hallowell around 8:30, birdsong loud where the woods meet our garden. I walked out this morning and heard myself (as though from a distance) singing a song I’ve written about before, another May, about the meadows and flowers gay and whom should I spy but my own true lover, and I thought how a month can contain so many versions of itself. The Mays we travelled to Ottawa to see our family there, the Mays when we celebrated the arrival of new books or the nomination of others for prizes,

may books

the Mays when we went into Vancouver for prize galas or concerts or just to see friends. This May is different. But still lovely. And it will enter the long archive of memories—the 14th month of a world-altering pandemic, the first month when the seedlings were grown in the greenhouse,

armenian cucumbers

the month when I thought to myself, why just built teepees for the beans, why not make sculptural supports and let the beans find a new way of using their tendrils,

bean tree

because maybe they’re eager to break out of old patterns. It’s a month of salad greens, most of them growing on a wild-edged cedar bench on the upper deck (because in the garden this time of year, it’s hard to protect them against slugs),

salad bar

and what a pleasure it is to take a colander up to cut arugula, lettuce, mixed greens (but not the tray of Triomphe de Farcy beans on the end of the bench, ready to try out the new tree of arbutus branches left by the butchers who keep the Hydro road clear where we walk on the mountain (young trees hacked to pieces, the patch of miner’s lettuce gone), a piece of old wisteria, some ocean spray–ironwood in some lexicons). I walked out this bright May morning, coffee in hand, singing an old song (“When misfortune falls sure no man can shun it’), among the seedlings and birdsong, the month a version of itself, like the others but new, new, shadowed momentarily as a cloud passes the sun, birds quiet for a few seconds only, a small snake curled around itself in warm moss beneath a huckleberry bush.

4 thoughts on “among the seedlings and birdsong”

  1. I love your idea of a wild and sculptural support for climbers. Brilliant! And you’ve arranged the branches in a way I’m sure no bean could resist. Hope to see pictures of the results as the garden develops. It’s a treat to see the strong colour and lushness in your garden, Theresa. Our prairie world is frighteningly dry and still mostly beige apart from the poplars’ new green and the occasional visit from an oriole or rose-breasted grosbeak at the half oranges I have spiked out near the feeders. Sometimes it seems to me you fling these lovely posts out like messages in bottles and so rarely does a reply wash up in return. Please know that it’s a delight to read about your doings and musings even when I don’t write a comment.

    1. My garden always hovers on the cusp, Susan — lush or overgrown! Right now it’s so lovely in its own wild way but later it will hard to see the beauty for the weeds. I do feel very lucky to have this work, though — caring for plants, finding a way to use the arbutus, watering, watering (in the greenhouse), digging and planting. And thank you so much for your ongoing reading of these morning pages!

  2. May 15 is the day when we here in Peterborough, Ontario judge the progress of Spring. This year the woods were greening in early May but then a cool spell slowed things down, so our big maple will not be fully clothed until next week. It has been a great Spring for dandelions with stunning displays in farmers fields. I am less enthusiastic about dandelion root tea which I just tried. But we have some wonderful fresh mint as an alternative. With temperatures here going into the 30s next week, Spring will soon be gone and summer upon us.

    1. I like young dandelion greens on pizza or in my version of the Greek hortapita, John. I’m not sure I’d like the tea but I remember I used to buy a wonderful blend of coffee beans in Vancouver called New Orelans Blend — dark French, light French, and roasted chicory root. I’m not sure I want to add roasting chicory root to my roster of garden-related tasks though maybe times are coming when I’ll need to? And is there anything more green that mint at this time of year?

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