Common Ground – May 2020

Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage….

Richard Lovelace

I couldn’t resist that particular quote which seems apt when so many people have been spending more time at home. Everyone I know has been challenged to find something constructive to do. Or some older classics to read, or reread. The normally painful to do list has taken on a new meaning in keeping us all sane.

A lot of people are apparently fans of Walt Whitman. I heard from many people about how Whitman was significant to them and also about many people’s favourite classics. I reread an old favourite of mine, Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope. I last read it when I was thirty years younger and I know I didn’t appreciate the humour then. But I get it now. He excels at skewering the pretentious. I laughed out loud many times and am glad I gave it another chance. I also enjoyed Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Her humour and parody of the literary gothic also made me laugh.

I’m limiting myself to classics with some humour in them. Humour is an important tension release which is particularly useful in our current circumstances.

I have a friend who is making her way through the Dickens oeuvre. I find all those subordinate clauses exhausting and I’m not sure he had much of a sense of humour. I know that if I’m wrong about that someone will correct me.

In the woods and in the garden, spring is very reluctant this year. The snow melted so slowly that the creek didn’t have its usual three days of being a roaring torrent. The beavers have moved on and their pond has mostly dropped down to normal creek level. The remaining black mud will green up quickly.

The wild turkeys have been cleaning up the mushy apples on the lawn so I don’t have to. Usually the deer do this in the winter. I guess they had enough to eat in the bush and didn’t have to venture out into the open to get the apples.

We have had lots of snow and even hail in April. The kitchen wood stove (which Peter MacArthur called the hungriest thing on the farm) continues to be fed most days.

I took the time to cut an armful of forsythia to force inside. I’m hoping the mild winter will mean a good show from the forsythia this year.

I know there are people out there who don’t like forsythia as it can be a rampant grower and it takes a lot of pruning to keep it from getting as big as a house. But it’s a good thing to practice your pruning skills on since you really can’t hurt it.

I’m glad that I took the time to plant more bulbs last fall. It’s always a rush to get everything in before it gets too cold. But the bulbs are always the plants I most appreciate every year.

The most exotic newcomer this year is a trio of giant alliums. The tips of the leaves are a beautiful purple and the plants are very attractive. I can’t wait to see the flowers.

Snow peas planted very early are finally up as are some spinach seedlings. The garlic is taller every day.

It has been a good distraction from the cares of the world to wander around and note which plants survived the winter. And I have definitely been guilty of hovering over the daffodils willing them to bloom.

Happy reluctant spring everyone.

By Jill Williams


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