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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trembling Enchantment of Green

"He who keeps a garden still his Eden keeps."

Don't get me wrong. I never wear green. Nothing in my house is green--no walls or furnishings. Green of nature enthralls me every year as though I had never seen it before. As I grow older (almost 63 now) (edit: almost 68 now), it seems I appreciate it more....not sure why. The life I see in green is something Thoreau would appreciate. Nothing else seems to hold the peace and promise of green trees, foliage of yard plants, and the grass. Maybe it's just me. My St. Augustine grass has a depth to its green that is lacking in other grasses that I have observed. By no means have I experienced all the greens and grasses of the earth.

As I drove the back way from Huntsville, south to my home, avoiding the interstate, about 6:30 pm last Saturday, I was struck by the majesty of the land around me. There were few houses, a little mountain foothills  range, and absolute quiet. People must be at home eating, tending the last bit of their garden, or getting ready to go out on Saturday night, I thought. This road normally has many cars. Not so when I drove the 30+ miles home this evening.

Since I had the radio off, the drive seemed especially serene. From now on the radio will be off so the noise won't interfere with the green experience. Ordinarily, I could not see green for the cacophony of my favorite music (60s and easy listening).

I passed the old barn right beside the road with the little stand for selling produce. No one has sold produce there for the last 25 years. The old man died. His widow insisted on raising and selling gourds. Maybe that is produce. Her son raised gourds just for her and filled a 6' x 6' x 4' high lattice bin, made just for her and her gourds. The bin has a nice roof and overhang for shoppers and gourds to stay dry and shaded.

One summer day, I saw her, bent and walking slowly. She wore a faded, printed cotton house dress, topped by a faded apron. She had a bonnet on her head and old knee socks scrunched around her legs. For years there was never anyone at the stand. The one sighting of her and a later conversation with a very young, respectful relative were the only means of communication except for the locked money box in which to deposit money to pay for gourds. Laughing gently, the relative said the old woman had the only key and checked it regularly.

Now, there are only very old gourds in the bin. It does not look like they raise gourds any longer. The young relative had pointed them out to me, up on the hill near the woods. Did she die? I wonder. Everything was too quiet and green to stop and inquire.

Even the dogs seemed to honor the peace of the green afternoon, soon to be dusk. All their masters must have mowed the lawns because every lawn was freshly cut. The scene was not marred by a jarring note. Mowers were gone. No cars were in sight in the yards and few were on the road. Nature, even subdued by a lawnmower, seemed to be in charge. For one moment, I wondered if it were this quiet a hundred years ago. Home awaits me.

Late Spring has given us over a week of rain which seems to have added another dimension to the green world. As I stood in the backyard today, hanging clothes on the line, I was struck by the fact that I could see only green as I gazed round me. Only the clothes, the chicks and part of the back of my house broke the green spell. The sky was blue with clouds. The 6 foot back fence was obscured by scuppernong vines and wisteria. Even the trunks of the trees were gone, hidden by privets that reached up toward the branches of the hickory nut trees and bowed to the ground, touching the grass. The low-growing limbs of the tree hid my car and the house next door.

The diffuse, trembling green of Nature seemed at her best. Green must be female, tantalizing us each day to play with her, to interact. Green has many agendas and roles--nurturing, playing, birthing, tending, feeding, burying, cleaning, listening, hiding. Green is there to discover as I increasingly have the last few days.

It all seemed too perfect, punctuated by two bright petunia plants, rescued from brown doom at Lowe's. I nurtured them back to their green and pink state. The old-fashioned roses on the back fence have faded, and I won't cut the vines until I see hips. Maybe I will have hips.

For a moment, I felt as if I were in a secret garden, seeing nothing and hearing only the birds and chicks. Sometimes, it is hard to tell them apart just by listening.

I had no horizon, only walls of green on four sides and a blue ceiling. The house is there, but from where I stood, I could not really see it. The blaze of the sun, though blinding, kept me focused on the green. Weeds grown up over my rock garden hid even the heat of the rocks so nothing emanated. It was all green, just green.

This feeling comes over me every year. Today pulled all the green I feel from the depths of me. I never told anyone before.

"He who loves a garden still his Eden keeps."  (sign in my yard)
A. Bronson Alcott

(Written on June 22, 2009, ten days after I had no TV)

(Note: June 22, 2011: I still have no TV. I can tell the chicks (now hens) from the birds chirping in the trees. Neighbors cut lots of green privets and put up a fence which the wisteria is starting to cover again. I will be 65 (edit: will be 68) in two months. Today is the same green month and day as when I wrote this. )

Your turn
Does the green of nature touch you deeply? Does green, lush foilage renew you as it does me?


  1. What a beautiful post! I could feel what you described. Love it!

    1. T'Pol,
      Thank you. That is the highest compliment a writer can get.

  2. YES. I don't wear green, but the green of growing things heals my heart and restores my soul. And there are so many greens - all magical.
    Cicero: He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing.
    (Well not much anyway.)

    1. EC,
      Magic, yes.
      Thanks for the Cicero quote.

  3. An amazing post! Mother Nature really is the best designer!

    1. Feral Turtle,
      Thank you. Yes, Mother Nature is the best!

  4. Forget gardener - you, my friend, are romantic. Beautiful.

    Lush, growing things make me think of hope. That pile of dirt just needed a seed - and look what happened!

    Great post!

    PS: The junk mail of the blog world.

    1. Cherdo,
      Thanks for the compliment. I don't even try. It just comes out on paper.

  5. I love the color olive green. But I'm just not a good outdoors sort of gal. I've tried and while I love to work in the yard, the forest is a bit scary. LOL. I've enjoyed your post more than a walk though. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Sonya Ann,
      Thanks. I am afraid of the woods! I do understand. Your are welcome.

  6. You and I share a love of plants. I agree with you about green. I love it dearly on plants but not on much else. Peggy has a green bedroom, but mine is pink because when it's winter, I want to be surrounded by warmth and that means pastels. As for the beauty of Alabama, I miss that of Mississippi. Oregon is far more varied and spectacular, but the South has things that it lacks, lovely and permeating odors for one thing, and the feel of the heavy air enveloping you for another. There's also a richness to the Southern vegetation that, however lush it is here, it's just not the same. If I had to choose, I would take Oregon, but i wish I could have both.

    1. Snowbrush,
      I could not sleep in a green bedroom. My bedroom is pink, too, because I love pink.

      I like Mississippi better, I think, even though most of my life has been in Alabama--since 1974. I could do without that heavy air, mostly humidity in the heat. I have never been to Oregon, but the South seems varied to me. We definitely have lushness!

    2. Oregon is mostly high desert, but it also has high mountains, rain forests, the large and lush Willamette Valley, places that get extremely hot, places an hour's drive away that never get hot, places that get as cold as the Arctic, places that rarely get below freezing cold, and hundreds of miles of windswept coast. Last week, we had weather here (in the Willamette Valley) in the 90s; this week, it has been in the 70s with lows in the 40s. Few places are more varied in their weather or their scenery. I think that Mississippi is prettier than Alabama, but once you get into the mountains of Alabama, the scenery changes dramatically and for the better.

    3. Snowbrush,
      Thanks for that description. Remember, I live above Birmingham where it is more like Mississippi. I have more of the rolling hills since I am in the foothills of Appalachia. Mississippi is definitely prettier than Alabama on the whole.
      We have had a few nights when the temperature was in the 50s, and the high one day was 68, very strange for this time of the year. No one is complaining.

  7. Green wasn't my favorite color until maybe somewhere around the time I turned 45 or 50. About then GREEN jumped out at me and we embraced. Since then, we have carried on an intense love affair. I think that probably 45% of my home and clothing are/is green.
    I adore green!

    1. Janet,
      Seduced by green? Interesting that you suddenly found green for wearing.

  8. I really don't like green and never wear it, but yes I do love it in nature, and due to all the rain we get here in the UK everything is very green!

    1. L.L. Cool Joe,
      We get lots of rain in the South. I know how lush UK must be.


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