Right now, the best place in the garden is this place: the lettuce (kagraner sommer) I almost didn't plant, the dill that sowed itself, the cabbage that never amounted to anything last year, and might not amount to anything again.
Sitting in the garden is very important. On a warm day, I like lying down even better. G.K. Chesterton wrote that essay about lying in bed that starts with "Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if one only had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling." Lying in the vegetable garden is a perfect and supreme experience. I used to mulch my paths with wood chips, but they're no good for this. Oak leaves are better, though they stick to your clothes and hair. A job isn't done until it's enjoyed.
I fought this grape vine for three years, then I stopped fighting. Now I love it. It's nice to look out at the kitchen sink through green leaves. I can see the little pear tree there, and the geranium planted at its base. I love that tiny geranium though it's no different from any of the other thousands of wild geraniums out this May. Walt Whitman asked Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me? Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands in my blood? These might be the only questions I care about.
Lying in the garden today, I was reading Turgenev. He wrote about lilacs, and so did Whitman. So did everyone. Lilacs don't make any sense- they're not that pretty, and what beauty they have isn't there long. But here they are, and here I am, smelling the lilacs again. The ones that blossomed pale in the heat have opened further now and have gone purple as the weather cooled. I can't tell if these two-toned bunches are gorgeous or ugly. The truth is, it doesn't matter to me at all. They're here such a brief moment. That's beauty enough.
On the way to my daughter's school, there's a square that's been cut out of a lawn, and in it, two purple pasque flowers are blooming. The square is probably six inches wide, just big enough for what it holds and no bigger. Gardens like this are some of my favorites. Are they gardens? I've been told that the words "guard" and "garden" are related, and that a garden should be about enclosure. Those pasque flowers aren't about enclosure at all. They're just a little present, tucked right up against the sidewalk.
My own garden is looking less demure than those pasque flowers right now. It was hot last week, and everything grew dizzyingly fast. The lilacs that bloomed in the heat are all very pale, and so are the blossoms on the weeping crabapple tree in my front yard. They've always been the color of raspberry stain, but this year, they're a white froth, and I love them much more than I ever did before.
The potatoes are coming up. The strawberries are blooming. I've done so much less than I would hope to, but everything looks beautiful, anyway. And healthy and good and a bit riotous. The chives are full, and I've been cutting them by the handful to blend into a sludge with salt and oil. I put in another quince tree, and three cherry bushes, and three clove currents, and a struggling juneberry that is sprouting along its stems.
Speaking of riotous, a pair of catbirds is building a nest in the blue spruce outside my bedroom window. The way they sing is so jaunty and such a jumble. They talk and talk all morning, then talk and talk all evening. Every year I think about cutting down that spruce tree. But I love those catbirds.