Odds and Sods II

By Mimi Hedl

I had to laugh. I sat down to write and immediately needed a title. That’s my way, a title before I begin to write. The title helps guide me, focuses my mind. This February has seemed like a little of this, a little of that, so I said: “Odds and Sods”, then, “didn’t I use that title before?” And sure enough, I looked in my files and found it.  “Well, February doesn’t change names, why should I have to?” And so I haven’t, hence, Odds and Sods II. February makes me feel that way, although with the way the world spins, that may change in the future. Time will tell, as it always does.

The Spider Farmer LED light has done its magic with the seedlings. The onions have had 5 haircuts since mid -January when the seed sprouted. And how satisfying to hold the mice at bay with the wire fortress I spent hours and hours making and remaking until it held together and I could easily take off the top to water, prune and transplant. This light has pulleys so getting in and out of this contraption takes no time. And seeing the seedlings in the morning, when the light comes on at 6 am, gives me a rush of happiness. The lavender seeds sat in the fridge vernalizing for 2 months. When I’d open the fridge I’d look at the flat and imagine seedlings filling it. Within a week after coming out from the cold, the new seedlings made me swoon. Seeds don’t come with guarantees, you never know if they’ll come up or not and you’ll often hear gardeners proclaim, “My (fill in the blank) germinated!!” A joyous moment indeed.

The German winter lettuce in the cold frame germinated last fall but has only recently become lush enough to make into salads. After a winter of eating cabbage salads, the fresh lettuce tastes like a gourmet treat. I put screens over the top at night as the ground hog continues to haunt the homestead and adores, absolutely adores, the fresh lettuce. We have that in common, I tell the head gardener, and she shakes her head at me like I have a screw loose.

Near the cold frames stands the new bamboo drying rack. The bamboo grove had offered comfort only for the birds, not for me. I couldn’t get inside, feel snug and cozy out of the wind and blowing snow like I did as a girl under cedar trees. This demanded changes. On several sunny days, down on my hands and knees, I cut one bamboo cane after another until carved paths emerged and a refuge established.

I bundled 20 canes together and began to erect a bamboo drying rack. Once the leaves all fall off, I can trim the tops out and use the long canes in the garden or make trellises, etc.  The rack is a place to store the cut bamboo. The stalks are so tall, it’s almost impossible to lay them down anywhere, plus, I get the sculpture the bamboo makes on its own. It took 5 iterations before the wind decided not to destroy my work and for a graceful structure to claim the territory. I call this “whirling dervishes” especially when the wind ruffles their gowns.

The legs of our saw horses finally collapsed. I decided to build new ones. Once into the process of cutting 18 degree angles on the top piece, where the legs will rest, I needed to enlist Patrick to do the plunge cuts on the side my saw couldn’t figure out how to cut, and too dangerous for me to attempt. After that rigmarole, I reclaimed the old tops, spending a day taking them apart, pulling nails, etc. and cutting new legs, all out of used wood in the old hay barn, my museum of many flavors. You can see the saw cuts on the old horses, such beauties, such history in each cut.

As I carried in wood for the night, I spied a downy woodpecker lying on the ground. When I came back for another armload of wood, she remained in shock, not moving. I feared perhaps Ninja, Petra and Patrick’s beloved cat, would come prowling by and decide on her for dinner. Ordinarily I don’t touch wild birds or any wild critters except the occasional tortoise on the road. Somehow she called to me and I brought her inside, put her in this basket, set it close to the fire, and hoped she’d revive. There was no movement for ever so long. Still, a basket over the top seemed prudent. Hours later I gently lifted the lid and saw her eyes blinking and just as quickly I closed the lid. I went up to bed hoping I’d find her better in the morning.

At about 3 am, as habit dictates, I came downstairs to feed the fire. It felt hot by wood stove and I worried the downy female might not like Florida, so I pushed the basket away from the stove. As I pushed, the lid tilted ever so little giving the now active female a chance to escape and me to groan at my foolishness. I have spent hours trying to get trapped birds out of the house, but never on a freezing night.

For 30 minutes it was a comedy act. She was obviously healed and not cooperative. She flew up, then over and down, high and low, in and out. With the front door open, the house cooled down in a hurry. Finally I trapped her, I think she was exhausted, and put her back in the basket, lid firmly attached, the house freezing. I would release her when the sun came up and watch her fly away, her ladder -back pattern disappearing into the white oak. Now when I see the female downys, I wonder if it’s her.

This is the 5 March, Year of the Dragon bouquet I sent virtually to my daughter-in-law, Lynda. For years I’ve written to her as Year of the Snake, only to discover I was off by a year. And she never called out my error. The hazelnut catkins and Roman hyacinth turned these ordinary Ice Folly daffodils into a lovely bouquet.

Indeed I’ve had computer problems. I never get headaches except when I have computer or phone problems, then I feel semi-crazy. Petra, Erik and Hilary saved me, with good advice, calmness, relating bigger and more serious problems making mine seem trivial and simply solvable with patience and logic. Grateful beyond words and a new computer to boot. Sometimes the cost of learning how to cooperate with technology seems way too high, but like all of us, I’ve grown used to the convenience and immediate gratification, so I pay the price, though not without complaining.

March came in like a lamb and now shows lion-like ways, chilly, damp, strong winds. The birds hit the suet feeders, I haul in more wood. Soup’s on the menu, red chile-potato with lots of fresh cilantro. Let the March winds blow as the daffodils proclaim spring.

2 thoughts on “Odds and Sods II

  1. You didn’t like the 11 or whatever numerals I used to denote 2, classically. I thought it was fun and Biblical or at least ancient. Fun to observe my editor at work!


  2. Whenever I reply to my own posts, I am repeatedly reminded of a friend at an art exhibition. She walked around the exhibition of her work, admiring each piece. I thought that odd. Now I understand. Nobody appreciates our work more than ourselves. To life and beauty!


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