Earth Journal

Vol. 8, No. 12
March 23-29, 2000
Current Issue
Lost Town of London
Dock of the Bay
Letters to the Editor
Burton on the Bay
Earth Journal
Not Just for Kids
Good Bay Times
What's Playing Where
Music Notes
Sky Watch
Bay Classifieds
Behind Bay Weekly
Advertising Info
Distribution spots
Contact us
All’s Well that Ends Well:
Beginning a Garden Again
by Audrey Y. Scharmen

The day of reckoning has come. Things are greening, beginning to bud, and it is time for me to go back into my yard and face the damage of the Great Wall Debacle.

It began with last summer’s drought, when my roomie became concerned about the source of our water supply. Many of this rural community’s wells were failing, and he decided we had better replace our 50-year-old well before it was too late.

Not to worry, said I. There is lots of water left in that place where it all comes from. And as I turned on a faucet to make my point, the water came rushing forward.

His pained expression was sufficient response. And so the well people were called and they came to assure us that a new one would be a simple procedure: Just remove a section of the picket fence, a narrow trench would go here, the well head there, and so on. Neat. No problem. Such nice guys.

Then came a rainy day in September with a procession of machinery grand enough to stage an offensive against a small village. This would be only the first stage. Others would follow at intervals. The dogwoods were bobbed, several sections of fence removed, very deep ruts were cut in the lawn, and an impressive crater was rimmed with piles of dirt containing remains of my dear departed cat’s grave, half the roots of my very old crabapple tree and a mass of pulverized perennials. The yard appeared to have been bombed and strafed. Even a patch of periwinkle I had declared invincible was demolished.

It had taken years to create this humble garden with an authentic colonial ambiance that can be accomplished only with total dedication to indifference by the gardener. It took the diggers only moments to destroy it all.

I had planted aristocratic European lilies one year. The directions had seduced me: Care Free! (My kind of goods. I go for wash and wear. Precooked. No complicated instructions; I never read them. It simply makes sense just to wait until something goes wrong). The soil was drought-dry that autumn, so hard I was certain I heard my lilies mutter “Mein Gott! This is no garden, it’s a !#*! parking lot!” But they stayed, and they had grown and blossomed. Now this.

My only rose bush was a survivor. It fled to the top of a tall conifer in a sheltered corner where it dropped blood-red petals well into winter. The tree is a perfect trellis, though I hadn’t even known the poor rose was a climber.

Now I join the walking wounded amid grave-like little hillocks in the yard: Clumps of dazed and disoriented daffodils in full bloom; the rose bush proudly showing tiny leaf buds. I clutch a clod of soil in my upraised fist and I shout madly, bravely, (as Scarlett in the devastated fields of Tara): “As God is my witness, we will never be thirsty again!”

And I grasp a rusty shovel and begin.

For her columns in Bay Weekly, Scharmen, of Lusby, has taken first prizes two years running in the Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Press Association editorial competition.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly