Errant and Unexpected

The Ameracauna hen has gone walk-about again. Third time this month. I’ve clipped her wings twice since she molted. There are no holes in the slump block wall; I’ve walked it twice this week. And the gate is as enveloped in chicken wire as it can be and still admit sunlight. If her pretty blue eggs didn’t bring in so many customers she’d be soup by now. Don’t know why the coyotes haven’t eaten her yet. Too obnoxious even for coyote dinner, I guess. Maybe it’s time to let her breed. With some other breed. Wonder what color those eggs would be? I’m going for purple. Probably end up with puce.

On the other hand, there’s a victory of sorts in the orchard. There were enough chill hours this winter to coax blooms out of the apple tree. Here are a handful of pendulous ballroom dancers lifting their skirts to the morning sun. Haven’t seen apple blossoms in what? six years now? Remarkable how quickly you forget just how sumptuous those velvety petals are, how intoxicating and permeating the scent. And the hope of red apple in autumn. I don’t know if we’ll get that far, but there is a chance today that did not exist last year. I have to resist this urge to cut a couple branches for the vase. Of course, I’d have to find the vase. So then…

The winds have stopped. Don’t know how to approach that. No dirt plastered to the windows. No air elemental feng shui in the rubbish bins. Every. Single. Night. No sandy grit in my nostrils when I dare the garden in the evening and in my teeth when I dare eat from it. But also, no air, no weather, no rain. Because the tally sheet must remain balanced, of course. The skies are gorgeous sublime blue, as rich as a sudden bubble of turquoise in sandstone. But no cloud. Blue can be oppressive. What was that song? “Nothing but blue skies?” And they were happy about that. But they liked swimming pools also. Idiotki.

Suppose monsoon is still far off. It’s just that it’s been warm so long I forget how short the days are still. Not just me. The squirrels are blinking up at bare branches against the blue skies as if trying to count back to when the acorns happened last, little rodent faces scrunched up with “where’s all the food gone?”. Feels like it should be September already even to squirrels, I guess. 

I have to plant out the nightshades here soon. They’re taking over the conservatory. Been pinching blossoms on the tomatoes for a couple weeks. But again, it’s early. Barely into April. And there’s no rain in those dizzyingly boundless turquoise skies.

I’ve still got plenty of straw mulch, and the benefit of no wind demons is that the straw will actually stay put. But still, it’s troubling. Most of three months before the monsoon starts. I sometimes think that tomatoes are not worth the trouble. May even be immoral, given their thirst. But then… marinara in winter! If that’s a problem, then I guess I’m just going to remain an impenitent sinner. Fairly certain the tomatoes would approve, cheeky things.

Ah, never mind. Look at this mint! In the desert! There’s some deva running around here when I’m not looking, dropping scented dew on the rampant portulacas, transforming them into green glacial water in leaf. I’ll be having to find the dried serrano and make up a gallon of mint chutney. Be good with a certain roast chicken.

Things to provoke amazement: a strawberry blossom in April. I suppose it felt challenged by the apple tree. Bud brinksmanship. But we’ll have a whole blizzard of swirling blooms for May Day. This is our memory of snow. Apple, cherry, strawberry, raspberry, apothecary rose. And, not to be outdone, the peach and almond with indecent pink blushes. All this to savor. 

Things to be grateful for: whoever planted these trees!

If time travel, I would stand in this space until I saw her come with shovel and bucket of saplings. I say her, because… well, it must have required an enormous leap of faith to put those fragile sticks into the exposed earth while the world was collapsing. I just don’t know if men have that in them. Maybe I’m wrong. But then why were things collapsing?

Nevertheless if time travel, I would wait for her right here. I would tell her that her peaches give me peace and her almond tree is a seven year wonder. I would tell her that pistachios are sustaining sweetness in the hungry days and there is nothing more beautiful than a ruby-laden cherry tree in the midsummer sunshine. I would tell her that the world elsewhere has almost forgotten the essential redness of strawberry stains, the royal purple of damson in jelly jars, the honeyed orange of rose-hip syrup on scones. I would tell her that I’m an old woman because she planted all this rainbowed hope. I would tell her she did good. There is no higher praise.

The churros are lamenting the sun. By the day length, it is not shearing season yet. And yet it clearly is. Have to get the honorary nephew up here with his tools and upper body strength. Though we’re all aging. Even the churros. Wonder how much longer he’ll be up to that task. Wonder if he’s managed to find a promising apprentice. Have to carry on. Have to plant our own saplings for the future to come along and wish for time travel in order to deliver thanks to the past.

Luni’s lamb is skeptically nosing the chamisa. Suppose I’d be wary of that wet dog stink as well. All the more so a sheep. But he’ll learn when he’s hungry enough.

He’ll learn.

Now, wish that hen could learn inevitable lessons.

©Elizabeth Anker 2021