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Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Wise Friend's Response

A friend of mine who works for a Christian-based organization was asked to sign a declaration of faith as a condition for continued employment. She read it through and said sadly that she was unable to sign. "Why?" she was asked. "Because I don't believe it," she said in her direct but very sweet and honest way. She said, sadly, that if she had to sign to work there, she would have to resign.

They didn't want to lose her.

"What could you sign?" they next asked.

She thought a minute and then said, "I could sign that I believe in being kind to people."

The people took the paper away, and in the end no employees had to sign anything. My friend prevailed by standing her ground without yelling or shaking her fist at anyone.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Name This Plant -- Then Pull It Up!

This is an enormous colony of the dreaded garlic mustard, across from north Lake Leelanau between Leland and Northport, not too far north of the Clay Cliffs conservancy trail. Last year it looked to me as if herbicide had been applied to this area; if so, it failed in its purpose. The colony on M-22 looks to be flourishing this spring, and even expanding its territory. I noticed new clumps between this large colony and the drive to the Clay Cliffs parking lot.

In the same family as toothwort (and cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.), Alliaria petiolata is yet another member of the Brassicaceae family. “Especially invasive in forests,” says the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers,
it can become so abundant as do dominate the ground layer, adversely affecting the native species.The garlic-flavored leaves are edible.

The most effective method I know of for discouraging this plant (and not killing anything else around it that has managed to survive) is to pull it up by the roots. It comes up easily (I pulled garlic mustard with a friend in her woods a couple years in a row, and there is very little there now), and if you want to make garlic mustard pesto with the leaves, go right ahead. Just don’t compost the plants you don’t eat, or they will take over your garden, and you’ll have nothing else!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My Philosophical Work

For a few years, I worked with a friend who had a garden business. She designed, we installed, and often we did maintenance through the season. One day I told her I was mad at Hegel. She was amused but interested and asked why. I told her it was because of Hegel's definitions of 'organic' and 'inorganic.' Tacitly rejecting vitalism (without giving it so much as a formal nod), Hegel called 'inorganic' anything that reproduced itself -- living things, repetitious work like planting or weeding, cooking or washing dishes -- while 'organic' was his more highly valued term for human inventions bringing something new into the world, be it a railroad or a new philosophy. Naturally, in the evolution of spirit as Hegel laid it out, he, Hegel, came out at the top of the heap. Ellen's frown grew deeper, and at last she exclaimed, "Now I'm mad at Hegel, too!" Ah, the comfort of a loyal friend!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mom and Pop and the Garden

The garden has been Mom's project, right from the beginning. Last year, though, she fell down on the job completely and let it go to hell, which for a little backyard garden means going to grass, old strawberries, and strong-rooted clumps of violets. But on Mother’s Day, Mom was determined to get busy with reclamation.

Pop and a friend had a different project. When it was almost completed, they sat down on the porch for a coffee break. As Mom passed through, pausing to request a drive down to Cedar later on for a big old sausage sandwich, Pop asked --

Pop: How’s the garden coming?

Mom: Pretty good. It’s slow, but I’m making progress.

Pop: So-and-so [neighbor] has a walk-behind cultivator. What would you think of using that?

Mom: You mean with a motor?

Pop: Yes. Wouldn’t that be easier?

Mom: Do you remember when you borrowed Ken’s rototiller one year?

Pop: No, how did it work out?

Mom: It was like one of those bull-riding machines in a bar!

Pop remembers, and he and his friend burst into raucous laughter, with tacit agreement that Mom will continue to work in her own slow way, with quiet hand tools, even if it means getting the peas in late.

(Yes, it will be shaded in late afternoon.)

P.S. after Tuesday morning's work: