There are a number of reasons for this gush of rude words.
It worked to take in all the feeders and the seed.The birds are not here. The cowbirds did go away. The ring-necked doves moved across the street. The jays crawked and croaked but from a distance. And all the little birds went elsewhere, too.
So much for my big ideas about how the sparrows and chickadees and wrens or whatever they are — would all hang around because they live here, their nests are here.
Feh. What do I know. I put the feeders back because I missed all the birds. I put out an ultra-deluxe, peanut-butter-and-seed paper towel roll on its dead branch amongst the salal and other shrubs. And the cowbirds came back, and everybody else helped gobble it all up right away. But I’ve only seen a few, very few sparrows, chickadees, wrens, whatever-they-ares back and eating.
Maybe they were only here temporarily. Though they were all around last August and in the fall, gobbling away. And all winter, too. I hear an occasional chirp from a house sparrow (they have a monotonous but cheerful chirp.) It’s too utterly depressing.
I anthropomorphize and sentimentalize small birds, animals and most of the rest of creation. I want to be sentimental. I want to watch the little birds hopping around, gobbling, flying, fighting and living around here. I want to hear their chirps, songs, alarums and other sounds. I want to gush and ooh and aah over the darlings.
This absence of the little birds is, no doubt, not all about me. They are busy, they have migrated, they are all a-nest. They found somebody else with bird feeders.
But I miss them. Used to be when I opened the door, they’d lift off from the potted plants and the straw bales and the window feeder in a rush of wings, small brown wings. They’d scatter until the coast was clear. Now I open the door and nobody’s there at all.
My other bad words are for my lasagna beds and straw bales. The plants arrived from Territorial Seed (http://www.territorialseed.com/). The three grafted tomato plants are here. They are supposed to go into the straw bales in front of the house. But the bales aren’t ready. I forgot some of the details of turning straw bales into garden beds. You’re supposed to put a bit of fertilizer on top, any fertilizer, conventional, organic, doesn’t matter. Then water and the thing starts to cook. Then make holes in the bale, add a little dirt and plant the plants or seeds as the case may be.
I just plunked them down in front of the house and watered them now and then. Last week I got out my three-eighths inch drill and my handy bulb augurs. Didn’t work. The straw wraps around the tips, and though there are now holes, they aren’t very deep. That’s when I looked up how to prepare the bales. I don’t think they are ready. I grabbed my bag of bat guano, liberally sprinkled it over the bales, adding quite a lot of compost starter, and watered them.
It was later that I read that a small amount of fertlizer, maybe a cup is all that is needed. And not to overwater, or the fertilzer will run out the bottom.
And the lasagna beds. They do have layers, mostly topped with straw bedding from the neighbor’s chicken coop. But they also are packed down. Sundry grasses grow up through them. Sundry weeds as well. Blackberry (Himalaya, thank you, Luther Burbank), broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolia) and even a bit of R. crispus (curly dock.)
The last two are edible, more or less. Curly dock is great for making pie out the stems, like rhubarb only not as sour. Except one needs a number of long stems, because they are much thinner than rhubarb stems. These stems are all quite short. Like rhubarb, the leaves have oxalic acid in them. Rumex leaves can be eaten after boiling in a couple of changes of water, and other things. Rhubarb leaves cannot be eaten due to the very high amount of oxalic acid crystals in them. Which is interesting because skunk cabbage leaves have a lot of oxalic acid crystals, and even they can be eaten after boiling in several changes of water. Why anyone would want to, I don’t know. But I digress.
My lasagna beds are messy. They are packed down. Some of them (and there aren’t very many of them to begin with) are shallow, with just some straw on top of the cardboard on top of the grass. The grass which is supposed to be dead by now, but no. No, it is growing up and around the cardboard and into the lovely coffee grounds, ammoniated sawdust, vegetable trimmings and chicken manure. Which is all packed down.
Not that grass and weeds are everywhere. But I had this great picture of fluffy beds, tidy and distinct edges, growing plants. Or at least ready to be planted with these very nice, expensive organic plant starts. Or seeds. Lettuce, rainbow chard, whatever. Flower seeds. And there I would be, simply pulling back the covering, sticking a finger into the loose dirt that had formerly been the aforesaid coffee grounds, ammoniated sawdust, vegetable trimmings and chicken manure. These components that were supposed to be rotting into nice dirt all winter. Not these flattened mounds of occasional plant with grass growing lustily through the straw.
I wouldn’t be grubby, either, because it’s all lovely in the ideal version.
Well, I am dirty, my right knee hurts (bruises from knee push-ups in Boot Camp class), my left thumb hurts (possible arthritis plus overused joints), my right thumb hurts (ditto.) The lovely rust-red (actual rust) wheel barrow has a bag of compost in it, along with a shovel. The hose winds through the front yard, one of the artichokes has died back to its crown I don’t know why, and that’s just the front yard. The lawn needs mowing again. My version of me being all organized and farmgirl and taking those plants as they arrive and planting them in the lasagna beds is somebody else who doesn’t live here.
I live here. Organization is not my middle name.
The tomatoes, three starts of Lavandula x intermedia “Grosso,” the two-inch starts of L.x intermedia “Grosso,” are still in their two-inch pots, waiting for me to figure out where the heck to put them. So is the Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare.)
The lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is in, along with several pitiful sunburned starts of catmint or possibly catnip, I’m not looking it up. And others. But it will all just have to sit there, because I’m in here swilling back a cherry juice with soda water and blood orange float and writing this. The float is probably not a great idea, too much sugar, even though I’ll need calories for Boot Camp.
I thought I’d impress the neighbors and my landlord, who is a neighbor. I’d have this lovely — though disheveled — garden with these amazing lasagna beds of flowers and vegetables intermixed. The organic urban farmer, with bees. (Not everybody knows I have bees. Some of the neighbors are complainers.) And possibly chickens and bunnies. But with these lovely garden beds. This is all the fault of being part of the Wonder Bread Generation. Growing up watching TV, which implanted false ideas of Life, Solving Problems in Half-An-Hour and other unrealistic views.
Well. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is Star Trek: Into Darkness. After that will be more bed building with plants inserted. And maybe more birds. Possibly less kvetching. No promises.