My job is ending. In one week I will once again be unemployed. Knowing that work paying a living wage is hard to find, I have been using my down time during these long months of work to think about re-figuring my living space into a healthful and comfortable hermitage that will nurture my return to the life of a hermit artist and poet, living simply, creating daily.
I have planted vegetables in my backyard -- squash, broccoli, lettuce, two tomatoes (Roma and Early Girl) -- in beds that already house mature rhubarb and strawberry plants, fruiting blueberries, a sweet pepper plant (two years old already), cilantro grown tall and setting seed (I love coriander), and various culinary herbs -- oregano, thyme, tarragon, savory, various basils (including Holy Basil), chives, parsley and more.
Plus flowers . . .
I cannot live without flowers. . .
Roses bloom on fences in the front yard; pansies peek from below the skirts of poppies, sprouting in the most unexpected places -- between bricks and under the canopy of squash leaves. The Foxgloves, always amazing with their spires of pink, much beloved by bees, are finishing, but Fuschia against the fence are just beginning. Magic Rue is slowly unfolding its starry yellow blooms, and nasturtiums cascade from planters and creep up trellises, confounding the eye and heart with their intense color. In the late afternoon, I sit in my yard and just breathe, watch the hummingbirds and the butterflies, imagine what this yard will look like long after I am gone when the lemon trees have grown heavy with fruit, the tiny plum tree puffed tall and wide.
I know it won't be the same, but some green will remain. Maybe the nasturtiums or the lavender will still bloom, shading the drying earth. Gardens thrive when tended, shrink back when that attention disappears, but always something survives, some happy plant that grows merrily with no more attention than the casual brushing by of rain and sun. Everywhere across the continent, hills and fields are filled with garden 'escapes.'
I recall the 'wild' asparagus at the edge of fields in Colorado, marking the boundary of a long-ago homesteader's garden, and a field of 'wild' thyme blooming purple beneath the Tappan Zee bridge in NY State. Neither were really wild -- wild in the sense of happy-go-lucky maybe but not indigenous and certainly not endemic. They were the remains of gardens, stretched wide.
Maybe it will be the fruit trees that survive, or the Western Dogwood. Perhaps the olive tree will continue thriving in its small plot near the street. Olive trees need little water and live for decades. Take the people away, remove the racket of the city, shut down the lights, and I can imagine it still fruiting, long after more delicate cultivars have succumbed to the blistering sun in a world of melting ice and rising seas.
Our climate is changing. The world is warming. We really can no longer deny that. Carbon dioxide levels world-wide are now higher than at any time in recorded history. If you don't believe me, see what NASA has to say. If we don't change our ways, conserve our resources, stop madly consuming, we will soon be rushing like overwrought lemmings to the edge of the last cliff we'll ever see. It's up to us to save our world.
Each of us. Drive less. Turnoff the lights. Live without air-conditioning. Open the windows. Work when it's cool. Sleep when it's hot. Plant vegetables, eat what you grow. Collect and save rainwater, use it to water your garden. I have four rain barrels strategically positioned around my little house. My plants love that soft silky sky water, and I love the being able to live with green growing plants, my little carbon dioxide eaters and oxygen producers.
Hooray for gardens. Hooray for life.