Garden Variey Wisdom
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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Imitation Is Not the Sincerest Form Of Flattery

How A Head Fake

Made the Earth Shake

In the Garden...

When we first moved into our house, I was easily startled by the noises and creaks and moans and sighs  a house can make, when you are not yet formally introduced and barely speak each other’s language. Sounds lost in translation. Oh, that’s the furnace kicking in. Or Oh! the floorboards in the dining room settle in the night. Ah! That’s the wind whipping through the flue in the fireplace. 
 Settling in. Achieving new house equilibrium. Ahhh!

But this! This Bam Bam Bam Bam Bam coming out of the laundry room. Over and over and over and over. What is this? A bird. A little birdie. Flying into the window over and over and over. Knocking him or herself silly. Conk on the head, fall to the ground. Fluff off feathers and lift off. Bam. Bam. Bam. Over and over and over. I couldn’t take it anymore so I went outside and it flew away. Five minutes later, it started all over again. Unless I was willing to stand sentinel for the rest of my days, I needed a new idea. So I looked it up. On the Internet. I typed to fool a birdie in the garden...or something sort of kind of like that. And believe it or not, I got a reply. A suggestion. Tape the picture of a cat in the window and the birdie will never come back.

The sunlight on the window, at a certain time of day, creates a mirror like effect and the little birdie sees itself and just wants to play...with another little birdie that looks almost identical to itself. A twin maybe? An alter ego? But in reality a fake birdie. 

So I didn’t need a real cat to scare it away. Just a reasonable facsimile. I didn’t have a picture of a cat, but I found a postcard with a cute little kitty on the front. I taped it to the window so that it faced the outdoors. Moments later, the little birdie soared into view, hovered near the face of the little kitty and fled up into the birch tree nearby. From that moment on, no birdie concussions. But I had this odd sensation, whenever I was in the yard, and saw my little birdie friend, that I had been dishonest. Sneaky. There really was no kitty. Not even a cat. Just me and a postcard. An imitation. A fake. A fraud.

Garden Variety Wisdom

The wisdom of the garden is like everything else here, it needs to be cultivated, tended, and attended. Mistakes are made, but the hope is always that we will learn from them. But that requires listening and listening well. And occasionally, a second chance and perhaps a third, to get it right.

I was out shopping, and as per usual easily distracted by anything and everything gardenereal...uh you know...related to the art of the garden...and I saw the cutest painted metal birdie. I was in a funny mood, as normally I would have walked on by, but it was a brightly painted, oddly shaped, glittery, shimmery, a so-not-a-bird flashy show off with a banana yellow beak and purple feathers, a bit of fun, a ha-ha little joke. I bought it. I planted its metal feet in the rock garden near my metal table, close to the hostas in the shade, and walked away. When I looked back over my shoulder, I felt a twinge of conscience. The purple and yellow glittery shimmery birdie looked out of place, uncomfortable, ill at ease. So I walked back and tucked it in different spots, sat it in different poses, in and out of the sun light. Then gave up. Or gave in. I just thought...oh well, we’ll see. We’ll just see.

And so it began...

Day One:

A robin flew from branch to branch in a smooth ever shrinking perimeter around the rock garden. It never landed, merely a merry-go-round fly by.

Day Two:

Two robins flying from branch to grass. One standing sentinel while the other inched across the grass closer and closer to the edge of the rock garden. A shift of the wind, the stirring of leaves, the startled robins flew off.

Day Three:

Two more robins on the branch and two in the grass. Feeling safer in pairs and advancing closer to the rock garden, and closer to the glittery birdie that never moved, never chirped , never offered a song of encouragement. Playing hard to get, but within easy reach.

Day Four:

Now all four robins are in the grass and prancing. Dancing. I mean it. Dancing and running back and forth in front of the rock-garden-rock-hard metal birdie. Dancing and bobbing and preening and well, let’s face it. Flirting. Out right flirting. Male Chippendales. Females from the Moulin Rouge. Fan dancers. High prancers. Then whoops. Absentmindedly tripping each other up and scaring themselves into a fleeing fit of feathers and down.

Day Five: 

This is rapidly becoming an X-rated story. A little bit kinky. For now, the robins are up in the branches and the bold brushfire red cardinals and brash little woodpeckers are fist bumping and blowing kisses and downright wooing and cooing their way across the rocks closer and closer as the gasps and moans from the uppermost branches of the birch tree sully the air to the exact moment there is contact. Up close and personal contact. My real life feathered little birdie friends are so taken in by the glitter and glam of the yellow beaked phoney baloney avian avatar that they lean in for a kiss. A peck. A swoon.

Bam. The metal birdie pitches over on the rocks. Flat on its painted face. The jig, as they say, is up...or rather...down. And I believe, that if birdies could blush in real life, they would have. In shame. In embarrassment. For being caught up in the dance. For falling for the con. Stung. Cheated. Humiliated. Defeated. They slump off across the rocks and puff up their chests as if to say...I knew it all along. The giggles from up high in the branches, the robins are giggling until I fix them with a stare. They know I know. They know I know and we should all be ashamed. But it is I, who owns the shame, for I was the one who started it all by thinking that everyone can spot a fake. Will not be lured in. Cannot be harmed nor hurt.

You know, you folks all know, how you feel about those sad sad folks who plant fake flowers in their flower boxes? Makes me sad. Makes me want to stop by, tap lightly on their door and hand them some seedlings fresh from the garden. The start of something unique. Uniquely theirs. To cultivate, to tend to, to grow.

The garden is like a lending library. There is always room to share, a space and a place to grow. And no need, no need at all to copy, to Xerox, to try to be someone that you are not.

 Day Six:

I took a stroll out to the rock garden and to my surprise, the pretty painted birdie was gone. Vanished. Stolen. At first flush, I felt angry. On second thought, as in a second chance, I smiled. For all was as it should be once again in the garden, simple and honest and true.

So I turned to walk back to my house, and as I passed the birch tree, a woodpecker and a red cardinal lit upon the branches. They looked at me, each in their uniquely regal regalia of feathers and feet, and waited patiently for their due. I nodded and waved, then whispered, “I’m sorry.”

For here in the garden, there is a sign that reads...

“The most difficult person to be honest with is yourself.”

In the meanwhile, take good care, be kind to birdies, and be true.

Truly truly you.


One of a kind.


Exactly what a much wiser birdie told me.

Chapter 25...The Yard Yetis A Gardeners Tale...

Camp No-See-Um

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Light Bulb Project




the Darkness...

An Over the Hill motto crocheted on a sampler pillow reads...

Use It Or Lose It

I find it offensive that this line is said with a smirk and aimed at the elderly, the Over the Hill gang. I know a few younger folks who don’t USE IT and act as though they have already LOST IT...and I would humbly suggest an amendment to everyone’s personal exercise...their brains, their creativity, their imaginations, their innate skills to learn a new trade, to polish up an old one, to invent a way to set this wobbly world right.. right back on its axis before we all fall off in a stupor and a shout of surprise.

Dementia, demented behavior is possible at any age.  Cemented regimented rote unquestioning uncurious uninterested listless survival at the end of a leash being pulled by another is a sure fire way to end up in need of a rescue.

At the bottom of a hole yodeling a simpering did I get here? Help me! I have fallen and cannot get up.

Oh yes you can.

Not only can you do it, but you might invent say, the portable escalator, or hologram elevator, or collapsible Ron Popeil-like pocket rope ladder.  Maybe dust off your design pencil and sketch out a new excavating technique for underground trains.

Perhaps even sit down on the ground at the bottom of the hole long enough to look around and Voila! discover a never before discovered type of flora or fauna, a creepy crawly bug that will lead to research and a breakthrough to end the ravaging rage of a debilitating disease.

The point is to get your hands dirty. To tamp down the sound of your own wailing voice long enough to ask did I get here?...but how will I get myself out? A helping hand is lovely, but when the hand is your own, slapping your forehead as a light bulb flashes overhead and an idea takes shape…

Now that is the best answer to every question.

How can I help myself?... always leads to... How can I help others?

So...what to do...what to do...

Put down the GPS.

Do you know that police report a large majority of distress requests on their scanners is from people who are lost. And the high end of that demographic? Young people who have grown up on GPS and cell phones and are so busy looking down that they miss landmarks, road signs, their directional bearings, relying on technology rather than their own perspective, their own eyes and ears to travel from here to there.

Cannot locate the nearest Starbucks, let alone name the cities 100 miles in any direction, the names of countries within their own hemisphere or beyond their borders and across the seas.

Again. Put down the GPS. Make an old fashioned road map. Start with an X marks the spot HERE. Your heart will tell you where to put the THERE. Then lean back and close your eyes.

Imagine It. 

The road trip. The walking path through the jungle or the zip line through the rain forest. Assess the terrain. Prepare yourself for the journey. Be sure your body is well nourished and your canteen is full to the brim. Don your comfortable hiking shoes and shed the accessories. And whatever you do, pack a flashlight and extra batteries to help with your night vision and to scare away the scaries that lurk in the shadows.

A word of caution.

Do not think of your travels as moving from Point A to Point B. That is not a life changing move, that is simply changing the channel on the remote. You have relied on your upper digits too long to acquire information. What you seek is not on your phone or on the Internet or your IPad. Besides, at the bottom of this hole, this very hole you are in, the WiFi connection is lousy and even if you stand on top of your devices, your elevation and elation will only improve a few inches or millimeters.

There is an “I” device involved, to be sure, but that   I is the I in You.

I is for Instinct. 

You have it. Trust it. That is what instincts are for, they keep us safe, keep us focused on what is good for us and away from what is not. 

Oh and tunes. Learn how to hum loudly, so that if you think you need roadside assistance, you can differentiate the good samaritans from those who seek to trip you up or suggest a dead end detour.

As you set out, think of HERE as Number One and THERE as Number TWO. Because any mathematician will tell you that there is an infinite number of infinitesimally small steps in between.

The hardest step is the first. Scratching the surface. Securing a toehold. Reaching up, looking up, eyeballing the next move. Take it. Move. Move. Move. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

But for heaven’s sake, do not expect a ginormous marathon cheering crowd along your path, as those who think they know you well, will be surprised to see you go. They may not like it terribly much. For, you see, they liked you for the way you WERE and they cannot see the pinnacle of the climb, as you do. That’s okay. You don’t have to convince THEM of the seriousness of your journey. You only have to convince YOU.

I promise. I truly do, that as you move onward and upward, side to side, over across down and through, you will bump into fellow travelers. They may walk alongside you, or wave as they pass headed off in a different direction.

I am not being flippant.

Not trying to preach.

I am asking you to be serious.

To take your life seriously.

To grab it with both hands and dig down for the unlimited potential that resides in you.
Regardless of your age, your ethnicity, your country of origin, or your ability to read a map. Or not.

Creativity of the mind is a gift, of which we are all blessed.

Curiosity is a gift, as well.

The best and brightest, the most prolific of inventors, designers, innovators, and creators, fall and fail. They expect it. They embrace it. It is merely a checkmark on their long list of endless possibilities.
But for each, the end result, the goal is to be better.

To shed light.

To do good work.

We need each other.

I need you.

Reach up.

Pull the cord.


Bon Voyage Mon Ami.

Adios Amiga Mia.

Bien Venu.

Hasta La Vista.



Auf Wiedershen.

Tot ziens.

Au Revior.


Vi ses.


Ha det bra.

Do zobaczenia.


Subha yatra.

Paalam na.

Hwyl fawr.

Aloha...which means hello and good bye all at the same time.
I’ll miss you because I am the one watching you leave, but I am also one of your biggest fans, and I would love a postcard from your journeys...if you have the time…

And if you need a night light,
cut out this little light bulb, and pin it to your lapel.

Signal fellow travelers that YOU are part of...

...the Light Bulb Project...

Adirondack Chairs