peachyteachy

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Messy Mother’s Day May 12, 2013

Filed under: family,flowers,gardening,life,parenting — peachyteachy @ 9:44 am
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Five years ago, on May 12, it was also Mother’s Day.  It had been a lovely day with my kids, and I had spoken that afternoon with my 80-something mom, who was on what she was determined would be a temporary stay at a nursing home.  Her voice had been so raspy that it was difficult to understand her.  We had talked about the upcoming commencement when I would celebrate the completion of my master’s degree.  She had spoken of sharing with the nurses the photo I had sent of my then four-year-old son.

That night, I was awakened by a phone call telling me that she had passed away.

Obviously, Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me.  It’s also complicated.

Thanks to my mom for all of the important things that she taught me to do and be.  Mom shared with me her passion and respect for the natural world.  I love the plants in my gardens like my offspring,  I feed birds, and I refuse to use pesticides.  I am a rabid recycler.  I apologize, however, for not saving every piece of used aluminum foil.

At least as importantly, I give my thanks for the lessons in how not to be.  Overcooked macaroni, asparagus, and most everything else led me to a determination to teach myself  to cook! Mom burned the bottoms out of enough pans to fill the quota for the both of us.  However, Mom could turn out a mean apple pie (and raspberry, and blueberry), and so she gets credit for the fact that I can make pie crust from scratch.

I also learned from my mom how important it would be to take responsibility and apologize to my children when I screwed up—not because she modeled this, or told me to, but because she didn’t.  I cannot remember my mother ever saying to me that she had been wrong about something.  What pressure to put on oneself.  This sort of coping strategy was typical of how my mother masked her considerable fear.  I resented it when I was younger, gained compassion later as I worked to be mindful of my own fearful behaviors, and slowly learned to make different choices than she had.  Sadly, the fear that my mother clung to also acted as a cloud, a protective barrier, through which I could never clearly see.  Some healing, I have discovered, has to be done after someone has gone.

Mother’s Day, then, is messy.  But it is full of love, and I will cut lilacs and bring them in (I picked Mom a bouquet on every Mother’s Day that I spent with her. She preferred these treasures from our yard above the more perfect, less heartfelt arrangements that florists charged an arm and a leg for).    Thanks to my mom, for all of it.

image source: elizabethpatch.com

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The Dorkess of Botanica May 6, 2013

 

That’s my street name.

While lots of folks have been out running various numbers of Ks over the weekend, and getting somehow tie-dyed in the process (see Color Me Rad), I have been seeking my color in the purple-hued Checkered Lilies  that are coming into their own amidst  creamy Sailboat narcissus. See the Checkered Lilies down there, all cozy with the white forget-me-nots? Be still, my heart.

View 2013-05-06 16.21.51.jpg in slide show

Never heard of Checkered Lilies?  Let the Dorkess of Botanica enlighten you.  Fritillaria meleagris is the correct, Latin name—for those of you who give a rip.  Lilies are something entirely different.  I can’t help it.  I am cursed with an encyclopedic memory for plants, especially flowers.  I feel disingenuous if I use common names that mislead and misrepresent. As a result, people mistakenly say “Gesundheit” around me, at least when the conversation rolls around to gardening.

I have also been waging war on the DMZ of vinca vine that tries to sneakily take over more desirable and better behaved citizens of my backyard.  For many, this would truly be tantamount to shipping out to an overseas destination for jungle-machete-ing. For me, it is a charming recreation of  The Secret Garden, where I am the rescuer of delicate treasures that have been overgrown and lost for so long.  For example, I have an old, double white lilac in my back yard. When we moved in three summers ago, I had to take down a black walnut that had insinuated itself right on top of that lilac.  It had been weakly attempting to reach into the sun enough to throw a bloom or two, but it was a sad old thing. And black walnut trees are in the business of poisoning things that try to grow underneath their canopies, so they can find no purchase in my landscape.

Most folks would probably have pulled it out and started with something new. But lilacs are so incredible, can live for well over a century, and are part of what I consider the history of the land upon which we dwell.  My mother would as soon rip out an old lilac bush as she would rip out her toenail.  It’s just a gross and painful thing to endure; why would you do that on purpose? Instead, I cut back dead wood, and have been careful to allow the new branches to grow freely.  This year, there are a handful of buds about to open, and this is a triumph for the Dorkess of Botanica.

Consider the amazing wonder of greenitude that is the unfurling of hostas.  I can gaze at this green and feel my stress level drop, despite a hellish afternoon at work.  If I could just bring my class to my garden, things would be so different.  This would, however, be an unquantifiable, unscorable “different,” and therefore, it would not count.  Wait. Stress level. Greeeeeeeen.

hosta waking up

And THIS green:

View 2013-05-06 16.26.38.jpg in slide show

That is hakenochloa, Japanese forest grass.  And lysimachia nummularia “Aureum”. I’m sorry, but it is. And if you want THAT plant, you have to know that. It also goes by the sweet, old fashioned moniker: Creeping Jenny.  It’s a creeper, can be invasive, so go for the gold kind, because you are never going to get rid of the old school, green one. So you want to plant that next to your mean neighbor’s parking strip or something.  Very passive-aggressive.  If I could plant it in some of my students’ desks, you bet I would. It would reduce their stress, probably.

This baby fern can make me emotional. This is why I am the unchallenged Dorkess.

View 2013-05-06 16.27.29.jpg in slide show

 

 
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