Tag Archives: summer

This poem, a sparrow

I remember counting birds on summer mornings,
before the heat settled in,
I’d circle the house.
and count the sparrows and bluejays,
a robin or two and sometimes a cardinal.

A task that kept me focused
each and every morning – on small details
like the poetry now.
I looked for colors,
with hope that this time
I might see yellow in a warbler, a goldfinch,
the multicolored painted bunting
or hear a gleeful song that the mockingbird pretends.

The ominous black crow was not here, though venturing
near the field behind our house – I would hear caws
that echoed.

Tick marks on the page were used to tally,
and sparrows always led the count.
A swath of greys and brown, with patches
of blue and red, and always hoping for yellow.
The darkness far away.

This, before the summer heat settled.

Memories…within yew, without yew

We do gardening on summer holidays.

It’s what we’ve always done.

Most of the time, it involves planting impatiens or petunias or marigolds. Sometimes, it can be more…I remember one Memorial Day weekend when I boldly decided to rip out a row of old growth yew shrubs from the front beds of our house (at the time). I was intent on creating new flower bed spaces and getting rid of an old shrub that I could no longer shape into anything attractive (think basic geometric shapes, 3-5 feet in size). And while yews have their redeeming qualities (they are evergreen, offer an herbal remedy for rheumatism, potential cancer cure in taxus, and they make awesome hedgerows for mazes), it wasn’t doing anything for our curb appeal.

In taking this on, I did have some concerns: I was afraid of destroying our foundation, hopeful of discovering a lost cache of pirate gold (in Ohio….yeah), or worse yet, getting half way through and realizing that the roots extend DEEP into the ground and having to call in reinforcements to yank it out of the ground.  The foundation was ok and the treasure wasn’t likely anyway, as there have been no stories of privateers sailing up the Ohio River (plus no evidence of a treasure map in our attic).

However, the roots went deep and wide…probably 50 years deep, judging by the age of our home at the time.

The first one came out easy enough, but it was near the driveway, and I either had more leverage or more horizontal root spreading to chop. The last one was not so easy… it just laughed at me, as only yews can do. I had to dig, and chop, and wedge, and dig some more…I broke a shovel. I took a break to go the nearest hardware/home improvement warehouse and buy another shovel. I think I borrowed a chainsaw or an axe from a friend. It’s all a blur now.


Finally, I won.


I chopped it into submission, and dug it out. And laying sprawled on my back on the lawn, I realized that I was free from the yew. I still had landscaping to do though, with building a retaining wall, adding soil, planting cute little boxwood shrubs (that I wouldn’t see grow to 50 years maturity- it will be someone else’s problem).

Fast forward to this weekend –

We don’t live in that house any more, and our landscaping issues are much easier.

I don’t attempt to do everything at once. In the last year I have dug a new bed along the back our house, transplanted a rose bush from the front to the back (because it get’s more sunlight there- and I don’t have to get stuck with a thorn every time I walk by it). I also transplanted 3 snowmound shrubs to the back bed because they would tend to grow over everything.

Everything needs the right amount of space.

In their place (this weekend) I planted gutter plants and dianthus (here’s hoping the rabbits don’t eat it). In the back, I weeded some rather large milkweed stalks (or it could have been alien pod plants – they appeared rather quickly and then put down some liberal amounts of weed killer and top soil. Then I planted some nice ornamental grasses, some yellow flowers (marigolds and begonias), and some tomato plants (I’m a glutton for disappointment).

So that’s how I spent my long weekend, and the beginning of summer.

Excuse me while I look for the ibuprofen.


As when dandelions bloom

four months from now,
the sun will lie in wait,
hanging in the damp,
and the air will be thick
with summer’s late serenades
that twist
and linger,
before a precipitous
lunge. Time will stand still,
before exhaling at its crest
to signal an end
to an effulgent season,
four months from now.