Saturday, November 26, 2011


Little Golden Books' "God is great..."

  Learned in Sunday School:
“God is great, God is good.
Let us thank him for out food.
By his hand we all are fed,
Give us, Lord, our daily bread.”

A round sung at Girl Scout camp:
“For health and friends and daily bread
We praise thy name, oh Lord.”

The blessing I grew up with:
“For what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.”

For the irreverent:
“Good bread, good meat,
Let’s eat!”

Aunt Bethany in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag
Of the United States of America;
And to the Republic for which it stands,
One nation, under God, indivisible,
With liberty and justice for all.
Play ball!”


Let the battle begin!
            I don’t get it.

The hype for the annual Black Friday consumer orgy started early in the week here, whipping bargain-hunters into a salivating, rabid frenzy before the advent of wee-hours door-busting trophies, sleep deprivation, and atrocious behavior. Today, on Black-and-Blue Sunday, they retire to lick their wounds and behold with glittering, avaricious eyes the loot wrested from the fray before dressing for church.

            It’s like a session of Congress played out on a national scale, a grab-fest with every Beanie Baby and i-Phone for himself.

            And would somebody please enlighten me as to what treasure there could possibly be at Wal-Mart to provoke gunplay?
            In my mind’s eye, I picture the woman on the afternoon before she pepper-sprayed rivals for first whack at the super-cheap towels, sitting at her laden dining-room table, surrounded by family and friends, piously giving thanks and counting her blessings. Do you think she didn’t really mean it? Or was she just not paying attention?

Not a pretty picture of America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. More like the Land of the Me and Home of the Depraved. What’s the matter with us?

Days like this, it’s comforting to go outside and tend the garden, where I’m the only fool and reasons for gratitude abound.

 Nursery, holding area, infirmary, 
laboratory, spirit restorer
Last weekend, for example, I spent a few hours rearranging, culling and neatening on the south side of our house, which serves as nursery, holding area, infirmary and laboratory. When Hurricane Irene threatened in September, Tim relegated the baskets of cucumber plants hanging on our front porch there: we never got around to putting them back up. As I picked up one basket to dump it, I stepped on what I thought was a pine cone. When I stooped to toss the ankle-turner into the woods, however, I discovered a pine-cone-sized cucumber, unmarred by pickleworms, nestled in the ivy. Too bad I’d flattened it. Looking closer at the basket, I uncovered another fruit, and then another. What a nice November surprise! Added to my dinner salad, they tasted a little bitter. After weeks of unaccompanied lettuces, though, I enjoyed the change.

Four varieties of lettuce
(Why only lettuce? Because I try really hard to eat only what’s in season. Despite temptations at the supermarket, cukes, tomatoes and green peppers shall remain terra incognita until next summer. Fortunately the lettuce plants given me by my friend, Christine, are doing very well.)

Again, last Monday, while mucking around in the raised beds, pulling out past plants and fluffing up the soil for the clover cover-crop, I found… wait for it… potatoes, including the largest individual dug this year. The seed eyes went in the ground back in February; the main harvest took place in early May. Here we are in November—a mere nine months after planting—with another five ounces of spuds. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants.

2011's last potatoes?
Apparently, in addition to my talent for growing miniature veggies, I also have a gift for very late maturing ones.

 Gardens provide inspiration for gratitude wherever you look. Out in our yard, the aromatic ‘Copper Canyon’ marigolds (Tagetes lemmonii) that quickly dominated any space given them are blooming their cheery golden hearts out as we round the corner into December. Seventeen or so of the 80 ‘Granax Hybrid’ onions sown on the sixth of November have pushed up hair-like sprouts. I figure if I leave them alone until next fall, I might get a few bulbs bigger around than my thumb. The ‘Fragola d’Bos’ and ‘Mignonette’ alpine strawberries transplanted around Halloween shrugged off the two light frosts we’ve had so far: ‘Fragola’ is even flowering, silly thing.

'Copper Canyon' marigolds 
(Tagetes lemmonii)
brighten late November
Besides flowers and fruit, the fall garden offers sweet-smelling, slightly damp soil; a quiet place to hear birds’ comings and goings, and breezes lifting leaves; surprising tiny intricacies and beautiful color schemes sported by insects encountered there; sun warming bent backs, the ground cooling hands and knees; and—perhaps most important of all—the peaceful, literal grounding that comes with a sense of oneness with the earth, and the sure knowledge that some things are bigger and more permanent than petty human madnesses.

"For what we are about to receive,
make us truly thankful."
I’m going outside to soak up some of that inspiration now, and suggest, if you’re able, you do the same. We’ll come back into our houses and lives more thankful than when we ventured out to play in the garden.

Thanks for dropping by.