Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Flora and Fauna

It rained this week and the plants are so grateful. The crepe myrtle wasn't dead or finished blooming as I'd thought. It was just resting and waiting for the monsoon.
I found another Caesalpinia pulcherrima at Lowe's yesterday and for $2.50 I brought it home. It's sitting in the courtyard as I contemplate where to put it. Though it's much too hot to plant it now and be guaranteed success, once again, I was unable to resist the siren's call.

The hibiscus which lured me into possessing it has already fallen victim to the curse attached to its new home. I didn't plant it the first day, but rested it atop the pot-which-continues-to-fail. That was the night the rains and the winds refreshed the plants secured in their moorings by soil and roots. Sadly, the poor hibiscus was a victim of my procrastination and the morning found it lying on its side, branches broken, reproaching me with its helplessness. Even though I know it's only a plant, I felt bad.

(Poor grammar or not, that's just how I felt.... 5 years old and sorry I'd been so dumb and now look what has happened. Some feelings are just hard wired into me. My lower lip goes right out into the pout, my eyebrows meet over my nose and my left hip juts out with attitude. I'm responsible for the damage and I know it and it's not the end of the world but still....... I should do better.)

I just noticed two coyotes nose to nose in the middle of my street. They sniffed, and parted ways, one towards my palo verde and the other meandering through the cacti up against the neighbor's barbed wire fence only to return followed by two softer, smaller versions of herself. One came along dutifully. The other scratched and rolled around in the gravel fronting the driveway and then made himself comfortable, watching the world go by. Shortly, Mom returned and nuzzled him up and out of that spot and make it snappy. The two cubs are sniffing my cacti as Mom watches the road and the window behind which I'm typing. The kids are pooping and chasing each other and now they're leaving. Mom's making lazy circles in the roadway until both babies have bounded across and are safely to the other side. An incoming SUV makes everyone pick up the pace and then, after the danger has passed, Dad trots over, slinks beneath the fence and they're gone. And as soon as they vanished into the mesquite trees I realized that the ground squirrels and the rabbits and the birds are nowhere to be found. There's not a lizard on a rock, not a quail on a wall, not a hummingbird on the adenium. Those coyotes shut down the eco-system for a while. Now that is power.

My oleander must know that I am ambivalent about it. It is neither growing nor dying. It sits in a position of prominence and does nothing. For years, I had besmirched Nerium oleander as "a highway plant", suitable for median strips and along sound-prevention walls. But Mary Irish loves them and, after hearing her extoll their virtues, I found a healthy one at Wal-Mart and planted it as a screening bush. I've watered it and fertilized it and mulched it and it sits there, doing nothing. I can hear it laughing at me, staying too healthy to throw away but not adding anything except a watering chore to my life.

Yes, I talk to the plants and Yes, they talk back to me. We don't always accompany our conversations with vocalizations, but we know what we're saying. Shoving my ungloved hands into the warm loosely packed soil as I readied the pot for the hibiscus, I was taken back to Marin. My fingers were remembering the quality of the soil in my garden beds. At this time of the year, the lilies were 8 or 10 feet high, leaning under the weight of huge and fragrant blossoms. The bacopa and impatiens planted beneath them were soft contrasts to the bold reds and yellows towering over the ferns behind them. The soil in the pot was providing all the love I needed at that moment. The manicurist cleaned up my nails afterwards, but the planting had nurtured my soul.

The desert southwest has many wonders, but deliciousness of soil is not among them. The plants know this, and compensate by allowing volunteers to self-seed and thrive where they will be happiest. I've learned over the last 3 years to be thankful for the things that grow and not to begrudge those that don't survive. I sing to the flora, and, sometimes, they sing right back. And sometimes, they don't.

But the birds still nest in the saguaro and the ground squirrels make mounds in the berms and the desert willow I planted last Fall is already peeking over the wall, preparing to screen the pool next door from view. I've learned to be grateful for 15 minute showers while hoping for 2 hour storms. And I watch the world fly and lope and slither by.

1 comment:

  1. PHOTOS!!!!!!!!!!!!! ((yes that was 13 exclamation points))


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