I walked out


A cool morning, after the gift of 3 beautiful ones in a row. I walked out to stand under the crabapple tree, the one given us at least 38 years ago by John’s mum as a sucker cut from the base of her own tree, ours filled now with blossoms and bees. Standing under it is to be immersed in bee sound. (Standing under it in fall is to be in the presence of bears. Another story.)

A cold winter has resulted in spectacular lilacs. The purple ones all came from my parents’ house in Royal Oak, the one with the paddock for my horse behind, the little shoots poking up around the base of the tree they kept pruned within an inch of its life. Is it still there? I don’t know. But we have at least ten offspring here and yesterday I noticed a bunch of suckers at the base of the big one by the compost boxes. I’ll dig them up and plant them somewhere else.

I’ve been saying everything is a month late this year and yes, many things are, but when I looked back to see when I put the pots of tomatoes on the upper deck last year, I found this entry: https://theresakishkan.com/2021/05/23/le-matin/  And here are the pots I took up over the past few days (there are more around the corner and many more in the greenhouse still):

a month late

No roses yet, though they’re in bud. The wisteria is definitely behind its usual flowering time but the light feathery leaves are unfolding and the buds are filling out.

This year I thought I’d grow some orach. I seeded some in pots in the greenhouse and a few spindly threads germinated and then sort of disappeared. I was disappointed–last year, with the heat dome in June, many of the greens bolted early, so this year I’ve been adding plants that tolerate heat: New Zealand spinach, sturdier lettuces, and (I thought) orach, of which my old friend Pliny the Elder has this to say:

They say, too, that there are two species of it, the wild and the cultivated, and that, mixed with bread, they are good, both of them, for dysentery, even if uiceration should have supervened, and are useful for stomachic affections, in combination with vinegar. They state, also, that this plant is applied raw to ulcers of long standing, and that it modifies the inflammation of recent wounds, and the pain attendant upon sprains of the feet and affections of the bladder. The wild halimon, they tell us, has thinner leaves than the other, but is more effectual as a medicament in all the above cases, as also for the cure of itch, whether in man or beast. The root, too, according to them, employed as a friction, renders the skin more clear, and the teeth whiter; and they assert that if the seed of it is put beneath the tongue, no thirst will be experienced. They state, also, that this kind is eaten as well as the other, and that they are, both of them, preserved.

Given that recommendation, how could I not plant orach? So those threads, not much growth, but then this morning as I moved some flats of beans around on the shelves in the greenhouse, I kept seeing orach seedlings growing among them. Also in the little pots of cucumber plants and even in some of the tomatoes I haven’t yet planted in their big pots. There was a mouse in the greenhouse about 3 weeks ago, or 2 mice, because we had to put out traps and that was the bounty. Maybe in their foraging in the newly-sprouted beans, they somehow distributed orach seeds from their pot to the flats of beans. Anyway, I was so happy to see the little seedlings because given Pliny’s list of cures effected by orach, who wouldn’t grow it?

I walked around, thinking how lovely the sound of robins in the woods, the low and high pitched bee music in the crabapple tree, and how my parents’ lilacs remind me every year of them, Walt Whitman’s lines, “When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,/And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night”, the good and the bad, how I’d return late on a spring night to stand for a few minutes in the driveway of their house, the one I couldn’t wait to leave, the scent of lilacs in the darkness almost too much to bear.


2 thoughts on “I walked out”

  1. I sure can relate to Whitman’s words. Lilacs bring back the most vivid memories of childhood and my mother, in particular. Where we now live the next door neighbour has a immensely beautiful lilac that must have been here for many decades. It’s now in bloom and every time I get a whiff coming in through our windows or while I’m out working in my own yard — oh heavens, the memories that bless me are a treasure.
    I find it heartwarming that your lilacs are originally from your parents. That, in itself, is a treasure.

    1. I think lilacs are often grafted onto privet rootstock but many of the old common ones (Syringa vulgaris mostly) grow from their own roots. We have a few fussier ones but the ones from my parents are the common ones, vigorous and profuse, and they love a cold winter.

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