The snow finally vanished from my patio. It took seemingly weeks and weeks to be gone. For much of the past winter, as I remember now, Pushkin could not get enough purchase with a foot to bound into the usual area, in the farther corner, where he did his “business.” It felt like forever since the paving blocks and asphalt had last appeared in plain sight.
As with many very old houses downtown, the home I share with the English pointer was converted into a business address; maybe more than once. The burnt sienna on the bedroom wall resulted from floor to ceiling paste meant to hold in place carpeting that muffled the noise of machines, printers, etc. What Ralph and Faye Brown converted into the patio once provided employees parking.
The previous owners left behind a fish pool complete with filter; my first grade acquaintance with malaria caused me to fill it in. The dirt sprouts plants of many colors, augmented by annual purchases: chiefly from Dutch Plant farm. All other growing spaces remain as the Browns established them; that’s not quite true. Large urns flank the gate; in season they are guardians of tumbling ferns.
There’s also nearby a tiered metal contraption that holds pots of color, real and fake. Recognizing reality, my friend bought artificial flowers for the rung in which nothing would grow; we tried for several years. The corner that sheltered forsythia that ran out of control now houses a vine whose growth can be measured in inches, even after all four seasons run the gamut from very hot to exceedingly cold. I’m sure the snow that leeched into the earth – not run off – must be good for it, and the entire garden.
The Browns, before they sold 10 years ago, used railroad ties to run along the property fence that held dirt. They might be surprised to see the statues throughout their patio. The side plantings turn out to be whatever strikes my fancy at the garden store; always bright and rich colors.
For my birthday in 1980 a very special lawyer, who financed law school by painting houses, brought this wonderful bouquet that set in the kitchen window against the late October earth tones; she is responsible for my entry into the gardening business. Because of her gift, carpenters and plumbers built on to the library a garden room; from where I sit writing this, I can see purple, green and red gifts from nature. (I must remember to water them more frequently.)
Beyond the house-bound pots a piece of the patio contains air-conditioning monsters that whir and spit to make our rooms more comfortable. A red metal planter, showing stress and fatigue, hangs beside the wall thermometer, which I’ve learned not entirely to trust; it registers continuously spring climes that did not appear until recently on North Market Street.
Bamboo shoots emerge from two huge pots beside the planter; they did not weather the weather very well. I think they’re dead and probably must be replaced shortly. I will not know until somebody comes along with a better green thumb than mine. I do not know about the rose bush; the last place the snow vanished was in that corner. I haven’t really inspected the pots and their plants on that side.
One thing of which I’m very certain: unless Pushki gets down on his four knees and pleads, I will not stake tomatoes underneath the garden room’s windows. Last summer I managed to gather the fruit that has been my life’s favorite merely a few days until his early morning “outs” allowed him to know what they were and gobble them up.
In any event, as you understand, like many folks in these parts I’m hankering for the days ahead when I can grab dirt in my bare hands. Let the planting begin!