The garden is exploding with life: monarchs flitting from one milkweed plant to another, orange blossoms exploding with fragrance, squirrels dining at leisure on the Surinam cherries and lemon oranges, undeterred by the nearby hav-a- heart traps, deliciously armed with copious amounts of chunky peanut butter, pineapple, and cantaloupe bits. Each day I harvest broccoli, lettuce, kol-rabi, swiss chard, New Zealand spinach, sweet peas, basil, celery, beets. In a few weeks, the sweet potatoes, corn, cucumbers, green beans, peppers and tomatoes will all at once be crying out, “Pick me, I’m ready for processing. Put down your pen, your guitar, your word processor and take care of me … now–blanch, dehydrate, freeze!” But at night when all is quiet and darkness falls upon the garden, I am transported once again to that other world of words … THIS, MY FRIENDS, IS WHAT HAPPENED AT THE BEGINNING OF SPRING!
NOW, it is hot, and we are pulling out the dried-up tomatillo plants, the spent cool-weather crops like cabbage, broccoli, chard and beets. Today I blanched green beans and fire-roasted red peppers for the freezer. The dehydrators are loaded with cherry and roma tomatoes … salvaged from the hands and mouths of the squirrels who have dominated the garden this season, outsmarting us and our 24/7 traps. How many times have we spied two in the pine tree, two on the ground … two on the tomato cage, taunting us all the while with their mouths full.
Within another week all the garden will be gone, ripped out ruthlessly and covered over with plastic for the summer. We will be on the road once again, heading west to the great hinterlands … hiking, exploring, collecting, not only treasures, but also mental impressions and memories, many of which will find their way into my stories and songs. Stay tuned.