Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Break!

It was a hard winter for the desert southwest, with many more freezing nights than usual, and much colder ones. I've just come in from slashing and burning some of the damage--well, slashing it, anyway, and pretty much filling up the big dumpster with plant parts dead or severely damaged by the cold. I thought we'd completely lost all three of our firesticks, those splendidly dramatic euphorbias, and their cousin who doesn't look a thing like them, the dense 3-foot tall crown of thorns.
But as I snipped and clipped and tried not to stab myself too often on the crown of thorns (I don't know if you can see all the wicked spikes that give it its name, but believe me, they're there and hard to avoid), I realized there was quite a bit of it left, and just enough of one of the firesticks to warrant keeping. That's what's left of the firestick below. Not a lot, but if it hung onto life through those long dark freezing nights, how could I in good conscience consign it to the trash? 
It was a great way to spend a couple of hours. I found that some things we'd feared were dead aren't, like the asparagus ferns by the fence at the top of the hill, though we still don't know if the hearts and flowers on the hillside itself, that provide such good erosion control (even though they're not my favorite plant, I acknowledge their practical uses) will come back. The swath of ground they cover appears to be pretty much a dead zone. The buddleia that's been kind of a disappointment actually looks pretty good, much to my surprise, and the other "butterfly bush" (asclepias tuberosa) is coming back nicely from the roots. It will look like this in a while:
And I cut the first asparagus stalk from the bed we planted two years ago - it was so hard to just let it grow for those first two springs and go to the market to buy asparagus for dinner instead! When I lived in Idaho I stalked the wild asparagus along the ditchbanks and loved the foraging as much as the eating. Most of the lemon grass - planted at the same time as the asparagus - didn't make it, but enough did to regenerate, I think. Given the damage done to yards and gardens here this winter, I'd say we've been pretty lucky.
When I came in from the garden to wash up, Cosmo was waiting for me in the bathroom, taking a little siesta in the sunlight and in my sink. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the big yawn he greeted me with! I've talked mostly about Sophie here, but we have two other handsome fellows living at our house. Cosmo is twelve, which puts him well past middle age for a cat, but he acts like a 12-year-old human. Angelo (pics of him later, I promise) is seven or eight.  They're all rescue cats in one way or another, and all complete individuals. 
     I knew a woman once who said she didn't like cats because they were all alike, all sneaky and unfriendly. She did like dogs, and maybe she thought she had to choose between the two - I don't see why, but I know lots of people feel that way. Every animal I've had or known has been absolutely unique, just as people are. A verse of the Tao Te Ching says, "When once you see the face of God, you see that face in everyone you meet." I think we should extend that to animals too, and celebrate the fact all of us, humans and animals and plants, are so wondrously different from one another!

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