Monday, June 16, 2008

Hammock Days

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”

~Sam Keen
Hot summer afternoons and sultry evenings are made for daydreaming. The northeasterners can have their winter’s rest, when drifts of snow close their gardens, and they stay inside to shop from garden catalogs. I will take our hot summers, where we can lay outdoors in a hammock, to daydream of holidays past and seasons to come.


As a child on summer vacations, we used to pick wild blackberries from along roadsides in the Oregon forest. We loved play-acting that we were pioneers in search of dinner. But I harbored a secret fear that the bears would come for the berries, and coming upon this very plump girl-child, want to eat me instead. So the plan I never told my parents about was that in case of emergency, I would feed them my little sister in hopes this satisfied their hunger.

On these summer forays, we decided there is nothing better to eat than blackberries, barely warm from the sun. We would pick them in the morning. What we didn’t snack on right away, our mother would serve them that night as a simple dessert to eat while we told stories in front of the campfire. Just before dinner, the rinsed berries were sweetened with just enough sugar to render natural syrup. When we were done eating and the campsite was straight, we would share a small carton of vanilla ice cream with the berries spooned over.
Picking berries is a wonderful childhood memory. But now that I am an adult, I know that dealing with cane-type berries in the home landscape needs some planning to be a happy experience. As a plants, think of berries as mint with BIG thorns.

So if you choose to add them to the garden, contain them in a pot or barrel. Blackberry canes are armed with SHARP thorns that aim for any gap in gardening gear. They will attack: so dress for battle or you many be scratched from head to toe.


In twenty-two years I never planted any. Yet I started battling them about a decade ago. Right now I am ahead of the blackberries attempt to take over the canyon: maybe. There are a couple brambles with sycamore-sized leaves propped up against the fence near the apricot tree. I’ve called a temporary truce with these. If this small patch will stay put, their fruit will be allowed to ripen to dark, juicy offerings. Then early on summer mornings I can race the bunnies to the sumptuous berries.

Childhood memories are important. It is a gift to our children that we introduce them to nature through our gardens. If you have a spot for a hammock, treat your family to one. Pull out the garden catalogs and share. Decide together what plants will turn your plot of land in to Eden. Put post it notes on the pages with plants that you will order when the summer sun isn't too searing. For now, put the garden tools down and enjoy the relaxed rhythm of summer.

Photos of little girl and catalog by Gene Sasse. Used with permission.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lydia,
I really enjoyed your story about picking berries as a child. So funny about the bear and your little sister! teehee
Now, I wonder if there is any suggestion you can give me to help John in the garden. Since we are without a dog now, the crows are out in force as are the jack rabbits and the gray squirrels! John's garden is eaten up! He says there is nothing left! So much for the onions, tomatoes, bush beans BUT the jalapenos are still there! Do you have any suggestions other than a big ugly scare crow? He is talking of just planting flowers or rocks in there and I hate to see him do that!
Thanks!
XOTrisha

Lydia said...

Yep. Some critters are just so much cuter on the golf course than where you are trying to raise a crop.
Some suggestions short of new pets. If the damage is being done at night- solar lighting isn't perfect- but helpful. There are motion-activated water devices on the market. Whirly gigs really do help. There are effective baits on the market for varmints- but don't put them within 10 feet of garden or where water run-off might transfer the chemicals to the human food supply.
Something I am considering is the California version of a greenhouse- no glass- just screening.
You also might consider working some of the plants in to your regular landscaping so the produce is more spread out. Oregano, chives, thyme, sage- all are quite handsome. Some years I have inter-planted tomatoes in the roses- and except when our old labrador retreiver beat me to them (he thought I was growing yummy tennis balls) this worked quite well.
Now that your garden was stripped- why not take a season to let it rest. Work in a thick layer of amendments while you decide what to do before the next planting season. Sort of a Sabbath for the garden patch. Good Luck and I hope your husband doesn't have to resort to night-vision goggles and a hammock!

Anonymous said...

Lydia,
Thank you for your suggestions. I have copied and pasted and sent them to John.
I guess I don't really mind not having the garden considering the water crisis that approaches us. With all our vegetation and lawns we need to keep them alive! With the fabulous Super H Market just down the street and their produce that looks like it's on steroids, we can't grow them that cheaply! I highly suggest you so see if you haven't already. Last week I shopped there and loaded my basket with more produce that I should have! You would not believe all that I bought along with some other things and my bill was only $38. That's amazing to me! Much better even than the Farmer's Market!
Thanks again!
XO Trisha

Lydia said...

Glad you liked the new market. Tried the store out when it first opened. The bargain basement prices gave an initial thrill. Only two things keep me from making it a regular stop. The whole market smelled of seafood- not my thing. Then what I brought home- half the produce had no scent and the lack of fresh flavor was really disappointing. Glad you had a better experience. May be it was an off-day and I will give it one more try. I'm in that center at least once a week, so it wouldn't even be any extra gas.

I'll be writing on ways to mazimize our water usage shortly. Stay tuned! And thank you for writing in.

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