01 September 2008

Down and dirty

My Labor Day weekend so far:
Saturday, unplugged the kitchen sink.

Then I turned to the garden. Most of you probably realize that academics whose research requires archival visiting should not have gardens, and vice versa. But my version of having it all does in fact involve both.

And, of course, I am academically curious about any unexpected thing that pops up in the garden. One year, the unfamiliar objects that looked like artichokes rising straight out of the ground turned into Asiatic lilies, thus fueling my tendency to leave things alone and find out what they will become. Another year, the stranger became a wild aster, which looks quite pretty among the day lilies; it has small white flowers and gives the same general effect as baby's breath in a floral bouquet.

This year my luck ran out. The interloper was not identifiable when I left for England, but when I came back, it was huge. Taller than I am, if it hadn't flopped over the garden path. Thick stems. Large leaves. Not unattractive if you have all the space in the world, but I don't. And still it took me a month to summon the energy to deal with this monster.

I dug a hole two feet deep, well into subsoil, going after its taproot. At that point, when the root broke for the 4th or 5th time, I gave up. It was tempting to use the hole for another rose bush, but I decided better not. A) I prefer to plant roses early in the season, to give their roots a better chance before winter; and B) I may be uprooting The Thing for some time to come.

Sunday I was strangely tired. It was only a two-foot hole.

Today I need to write up my library notes from Friday. Gardens, archives . . . who says the summer is over?

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