Gardening at the End of the World


Well, those of us who accepted the scientific findings years ago aren’t too surprised. But this week’s weather across most of the United States, and coming tomorrow to my watershed, certainly indicates the severity of global climate change. Friday may be one of the hottest heat index days ever in Columbia’s beautiful city on a hill above a swamp.

I’m kind of glad that G/Son is off visiting his other grandparents at a home near the water.

It’s just crazy difficult trying to garden in these times. Out last few Winters, here within the Potomac watershed, have been extreme, first in terms of the amount of snow and second in terms of the very frigid days. I was out for almost a week every day this Spring covering up budding alliums and drancunculus vulgaris when temps dipped way below freezing after warmer temps enticed the gentle buds of these plants to come up above ground.

And I’ve been out every day since Sunday watering (from my rain barrels and from water that I buy from the county (and then pay a sewage fee for, even though water sprinkled on the garden doesn’t use up sewage facilities the way that water flushed down the toilet does. Arlington County, I’m looking at you. The ancient trees I water keep the temperature down all over the county.)

And even so, some of my beloved plants aren’t looking so good. An ancient eounymus, that I’ve never had to water before, and that provides a ton of cover for the birds both Summer and Winter. The new azaleas. Some new astilbe and hosta. Everything in pots, from the brugmansia to the parsley, in spite of daily watering. This includes coffee. Most plants love coffee and I never pour any of my morning nectar down the drain.

Meanwhile, the weeds, lavender, rosemary, and thyme appear entirely suited to the situation, although we’ll see how the next few days go. Oh, and bindweed. The bindweed is happy as ever, although I’m now, (thanks to Fern’s suggestion) harvesting it for, well, later use.

And, of course, if, as I do, you garden while holding down a full-time job, having a family, being in a Circle, writing, etc., etc., it’s even more insane. I realized today that I need to come up with a list of things for Landscape Guy to put in this Fall and also that I can’t do that until I spend some time in deep meditation about where this Bit of Earth is headed.

And I don’t know where it’s headed. And neither, really, does anyone else. (We seem to have moved from Zone 7 to Zone 8 or 9 in the Summer, but maybe to Zone 6 in the Winter. That’s insane. No one knows how to garden there.)

We’re in Hecate’s time, a liminal time, that space where you’ve lifted one foot to step over the threshold, but haven’t yet shifted your weight. And so, in the early morning hours, when I wake, old-woman-like and needing to pee (it will happen to you, if you live long enough), I go out to water in the soft, gentle light of the pre-dawn hours. And, Hecate’s devotee, I go back to bed, dream of grabbing President Obama’s jacket lapels and saying, “Keep Your Promises!”, send that energy from my Bit of Earth to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and then wake up enough to go move the sprinklers again. And again, And one more time before I put on make-up and a suit and go off to do law.

This isn’t the work that I thought that I’d be doing at this stage of my life. But it is the work that I am doing. And I want to do it — the work of a gardener, and the work of a Brehon-crafter, and the work of a Nonna, and the work of a member of a Circle — I want to do it as well as any Priestess of the End of Empire can do it.

And that means that I water and that means that I sit at my altar. What does it mean for you?

I shan’t be gone long. You come, too.

Photo by the blogger. If you copy, please link back.

5 responses to “Gardening at the End of the World

  1. I read this post after coming in from the evening watering of the gardens. My drip hoses are hooked up to the rain barrels, but the water level in the barrels has dropped sufficiently over the last week and there isn’t enough pressure and height for the water to reach the tomatoes and cucumbers. So I carry buckets. I water early in the morning, and later in the evening, once the sun has started to descend. That way the water has a chance to seep to the plant roots. Isn’t that how the Norns care for the World Tree? By carefully watering it at the roots with water from the Well of Wyrd? Isn’t that what we all, in some small part, should be doing?

  2. Lavanah,

    I love that image. Serving the Norns and caring for the World Tree. Thank you.

  3. And you write. You tend your words as lovingly as your garden. Thanks for the post.

  4. It means I take the shirt off my back—quite literally—and put it in the cat carrier, so the three-and-a-half week-old kitten that I have been bottle-feeding for the last four days will have something in there that smells of me, so she will be comforted and stop crying (it worked, too).

    As for the garden I’ve given up this year. I planted all the usual vegetables, and I managed to make the fence both rabbit- and groundhog-proof, but it’s not high enough to keep out the deer. Which deer have only showed up in the last few years, since a local supermarket built a huge warehouse on what had been a very large patch of woods. A warehouse that operates 24/7, with trucks and light pollution and all.

  5. Watering at least twice a day here in dry dusty Texas. Asking for any rainy thoughts from Above (as Below) — and from any kind soul that might spare them! The small Japanese maple that we planted seems to be almost bowed and fragile at this point — and a bit weary of all this frying heat. I know I am too … this heatwave seems to sucked the Energy from the very Air, Water, Earth and has only left Fire.

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