Sunday, March 27, 2011

Change Springs in the Raspberry Patch

Last year I left a job undone in my raspberry patch. I dead headed the southern slope of the patch and the northern side was left in thick messy brambles.

I start on the north side today and at high noon lose interest before going inside. Inner resolve drives me so after an Internet conversation with my cousin, I return to the patch.

First, I collect dead, dry vines into piles.

I look at the patch and decide to sweep the patch progressively in rows, north to south.

Inch by inch and foot by foot, I snap dead dry vines near the roots and toss them into the gusting wind as they carry out of the patch.

I measure my progress after each successive row.

I sigh and lean over to continue.

Inch by inch.

Foot by foot.

I settle into a routine of snapping dead vines and I see a root system at the base of each clump.

A source.

My late Hawaiian friends words, 'Nana e ke kumu.' come to mind.

Look to the source.

My routine becomes rhythm as I take hold over each root, twist to hear the crack of old vines and the live ones bend, pliable.

Look to the source.

I stretch at the end of a row and walk around to lean over and start again.

With little thought before beginning my effort, I wear woolen glove inserts.

Prickers pass occasionally into my fingers.

Find the source, hold above the root, twist the wrist, remove the dead vines.

Leave the live ones.

I feel my bare wrist reddened as prickers touch it again and again.

Look to the source.

Hold above the root.

Twist the wrist.

Remove the dead vines.

I continue and see the edge of the patch.

Every year, I try a raspberry and it lands in my mouth. My eyes squinch into a grimace. Yecch. But producing gallons of raspberries with little effort is a delight to my friends and family.

Look to the source.

Hold above the root.

Twist the wrist.

Remove the dead vines.

I look back through where I moved and see mixed results. Some dry vines stand, maybe as a memorial. Some live vines nestle within the piles outside the patch.

Some fertile dark soil turns skyward as I pass.

Look to the source.

Hold above the root.

Twist the wrist.

Remove the dead vines.

The wind gusts carry the dead and dry vines as I toss them, landing in misshapen piles. The sun bright, sky blue.

Funny, I think, that rebirth of any entity often means following the same routine. In the beginning, the messy brambles are a singular entity. The reclamation process is not immediately clear, but clearly necessary.

With time, patience, and persistence, a simple routine emerges.

Look to the source.

Hold above the root.

Twist the wrist.

Remove the dead vines.

When I finish, I cast ashes into the patch as the wind splays them through the standing live vines. I toss used chicken bedding into the wind cast among the vines.

Look to the source.

Hold above the root.

Twist the wrist.

Remove the dead vines.

Change springs in my raspberry patch.

Of Mice and Eggs

'I grew up on a farm.'

'A big farm?'

'No. We had chickens. A farm down the road had cows. We had enough chickens for eggs.'

I smile.

'I saw some of the strangest things. Before school, I check to see if there is enough food and water for the chickens.

'One morning, I peer into the hen house and we mounted apple boxes on the wall for the hens to lay eggs. And you know, shavings on the floor.

'The mice.' He laughs.

'Ever see mice in your coop?

I shake my head no.

'One morning, I peek into the coop, notice mice and just watch.

'These are big mice, sort of like rats.

'They were in the apple box and roll the egg to the edge. It drops.

'Now they jump to the floor where the egg is buried halfway into the shavings.

'Remember, they can't roll it through the shavings.

'One mouse huddles over and hugs the egg, leaning back, pressing it to its belly.

'Now get this. The other mouse grabs its tail and starts dragging the mouse, hugging the egg, out of the coop!

'My eyes widen and I run inside, "Dad! Dad! Have you ever seen anything like this?"

'Dad smiles at me nodding.'

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book List

My new ambition is to read again and people are suggesting titles. Rather than let them drift away, here's a start of my book list:

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Toothbrush Story

'Why do you have two empty tubes of anti-itch cream by your sink?'

'I use that stuff for hives.'

'Yeah, but why two empty tubes?'

'Cause if I run out, I slice open the tube and there's enough to get by with.'

'I threw them away.'


'Why did you have two empty things of deoderant by your sink?'

'Cause I throw them in my bag for weekend trips, and throw the deoderant away before I come home. Don't have to buy travel sizes.'

'When was your last weekend trip?'

'Labor Day. I don't have money or vacation right now to travel.'

'I threw them away.'


'Why do you have so many tooth brushes?'

'I like to rotate them.'

'I piled them standing up in the corner.'

'Uhm...did you put my roommate's toothbrush in the pile?'


'That's pretty gross.'