It's been a delight to be outside again, uncovering what's been quietly growing all around us these past few months. Including, of course, our favorite pal, Toxicodenron Radicans, poison ivy. Helen and I got a good case of our systemic rash a little over a week ago when we went wild by the Beatrix Garden and the fence by the road, which has some vines. I call it the Beatrix Garden for Helen Beatrix Potter, and the Helen who lived here before us, and our Helen who lives here with us now on a part-time basis.I have seedlings in the greenhouse to plant in that garden, and I'm excited to see what takes there with all the other beautiful perennials that bloom. Seedlings that are sprouting are Foxglove, Forget-Me-Nots, Delphinium, Stock, and a quiet, cold loving bunch of seeds of English Lavender that rest in the fridge by Dan's beer.
Rashes and rounds of steroids aside, there is an immense sense of satisfaction in clearing. A couple of weeks ago, Helen and I put our focus on the kitchen garden by the farmstand, which will be a family-friendly "Pick Your Own," space this summer. We broadforked, hoed, and fed the goats what was left of beets.
We stirred up the contents of the compost bin like it was a cauldron, and pulled the nutrient rich dirt out from the bottom layer to add to the soil. I stored away a lot of the tools, posts, and items that flotsammed their way by the fence. Dan and I put away every coil of old fencing that had come to rest there too, and it is much improved.
Dan cleared the space between the trees by the driveway, which opened up the view to the fields, and now there's a lovely tree to take shade under in the summer. There will also be much less poison ivy, since we can mow there.
Yesterday after doing some performance work (filming myself, a nightmare), I suited up to join Dan outside. He was clearing away the fencing that used to be a dog kennel between the barn and the greenhouses. I swept the birdseed and last bits of firewood from the kitchen porch, then raked my way around the path past my writing room (the quince is budding!), and toward the front of the house by the Secret Garden Path. It's not that secret, really. I just call it that because it is cozy and enveloping, the kind of space you want to stoop in so you can hear the ants.
It wasn't long before I was on my hands and knees, pulling up whole "carpet rolls" of grass, revealing new-to-me stones in the path. I had chosen the perfect day for this task. The shade of the space and rain we had the other day made all conditions right for path clearing.
What a delight to find the artifacts of the family who lived here before us. Their handprints, snail icons, dog prints, and a footprint with a hand. I slid my hand into the largest handprint, was surprised that it fit, and felt connected to those who took care of this land before us.
When I stood up, I heard the bees working in the Leatherleaf Mahonia. Its spires of tiny yellow blooms are opening (the bees do good work), releasing a honeysuckle scent when the breeze is just right. A thrill.