Monday, January 28, 2008

January Rains

It's been two months since the first seeds were sown. 
Some poppy shoots took off immediately, unimpeded by hard soil, harsh exposure, lack of care, weeds. In the easiest sites, the sprouts are lush and green, vegetal looking. I haven't touched them since they germinated, except to thin them out. In plots of the densest ground, the sprouts are lean and tiny by comparison, often bluish-green. Sprouts that germinated under the shade of larger weeds are pale, long, and stringy.

I've lost a couple plots of well-developed plants to diligent (but invisible!) maintenance people. I've also gained a couple plots just in time for this recent deluge. Several plots have been razed and then replanted. (Some of the folks who allowed me to plant were not aware of how diligent their gardeners can be. I also learned that the people who maintain the parkways are not necessarily in communication with the formal "owner"...)

People ask; "Why are you doing this?" Are you from the city?" "Then, who is paying you to do this?" "Oh, I see, it's a hobby! Your own yard must be very neat!"

The skeptical nod politely when I explain how to recognize the poppy shoots, how the first hair-like leaves pave the way for larger lacy poppy leaves.

The first month, watching for new shoots was exhilarating. After a day of tending the shoots, my subconscious would blossom with kaleidoscopic lacy foliage all night long.

In a couple of the largest Highland Park plots, however, the rains brought waves of weeds as well as poppies. First, there was the filaree. After I'd labored to save some poppies from filaree, mustard suddenly appeared, denser in some cases than the filaree had been! I attempt to battle the mustard, but cannot fight the oxalis, which also appeared with no warning. The poppies' delicate shoots and their roots are so easily damaged by weeding. Now all night long, images of tiny poppy shoots overwhelmed by the steroidal growth of hefty annuals flash through my mind.

Yesterday, I was astonished to come across this scene, which I sketched above, which reminded me of huge trees, fallen from storms or winds, which begin to grow again, with new main trunks ascending skyward from the downed trunk. The entire scene was not more than an inch and a half high. I'm drawing from memory here, so the forms of the leaf of the sprout might not be botanically accurate...

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