Tag Archives: plants

Write a Letter

To an old friend:

Remember how often we’d write to each other, pen-pal? Your letters stamped from exotic places, arriving in the mailbox on sunny mornings. I would trot down the driveway to check the mail, sometimes disappointed with impersonal printed business, sometimes cheered with a wrapped message that promised to be a delight to read.

Remember how easily the words came in those days, before there was such thing as a word count, a “good story”, structure, and grammar? Pooh. In those days there were books. In those days we told each other true stories, and wide-eyed we’d read them like the most gripping young-adult novel, except- these were real, written just for us, for our eyes only.

We wrote to each other. We wrote freely, as we were moved to. Unsupervised, unrequired writing, pure joy. Before I knew that “it’s” isn’t possessive, and before I knew what paragraphs are good for. It didn’t matter. I learned, and my letters were plenty readable.

For years I wrote to you. You wrote to me. Preferring paper and pen to face-to-face talk, I would wander the hillside like Frederick the mouse, gathering colors and sounds, images of plants in the sunshine. I would bring them back, in my mind, my camera, my words. Forest air in my lungs, forest dirt on my boots, blackberry scratches on my knees, sweat on my forehead. Alone, I would gather words for my next letter, and when pen met paper I would tell you stories of the places I’d been.

Write back soon!

Love,
Your Pen-Pal

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Plumegrass in the Snow

Fluffy cotton candy
growing tall and proud
bamboo fresh from China
forest topped with cloud

Whispers all the time
in quiet and in breeze
wonder what is hiding
within those fluff-topped trees

Welcome to the Green House

There’s a rose in the pathway this morning, pink velvet sparkling in sunshine under indigo sky. There’s a whole crowd of them, singing together, dark leaves shadowing dainty petals.

The shade is cool, almost frosty. Breath puffs from people and chimneys, floating silently to heaven, untouched by any breeze. The first leaves of red fire tap-tap-tap, blown across the pavement with dozens of siblings, finally touching down after drinking sunlight all summer long.

There’s a chill in the air.

Pedestrians walk by, looking through windows from well-kept pathways. One building has plants in each frame, every story. Long leaves, broad, wide, tall, every color, every shape, as unique as human beings. Gardeners in the greenhouse, watering with care. It must be warm in there. Uncomfortably warm. No fresh air. Only a lush, humid jungle, miles north of the equator.

Most folks take a glance and walk on by. Some tap on the windows, let themselves in, and someday wear a gardener’s hat of their own. Someday they’ll be looking out at a world of crystal ice from their patch of Amazon soil, hear a knock on the glass, and open the door.

Problems with Pruning

The morning glories were strangling my tomatoes again. I didn’t mean to plant them so close together—in fact, the morning glories sprouted on their own from last year. As it happens, if I dare plant morning glories purposefully, the rabbit will come by and eat them. Feral morning glories are the only ones I’ve got.

Eventually I toughened up and pruned back the morning glories. Pruning is something I almost never do—I’d rather have an overgrown garden, a wilderness of variety without space to breathe, than pull up beautiful plants. No wonder my gardens can be unproductive.

Pruning and weeding is something done by all good gardeners, and all good writers, and all busy people. Often, good things have to be sacrificed in the name of better things. Morning glories for tomatoes, and paragraphs for books. The problem with pruning is that it’s hard to know what’s worth the loss.

Do I really need a monstrous tangle of morning glories, or just a few? Since last week when I pruned them, the vines have started strangling the tomatoes again. They’re not going down without a fight.

These tomatoes are some of the sweetest heirlooms in the world. They’re worth it.

Tomato.PNG