September 18 – Trouble in Paradise

by Carol Ziel

He gave me an evil eye and swished his bushy tail.  Eyeball to eyeball we squared off as he raised one succulent tulip bulb to me.  He seemed to be having a “Bogart” moment, saying: “Here’s looking at you, Kid!” He chomped once and tossed the remains into the quince bush. He’d made his point about whose garden it really was.  Squirrels have nibbled on tomatoes, gnawed on corn and shredded lettuce. However, they are not the only demons in my piece of paradise.

Let’s talk birds. Last spring I planted broccoli and onion sets–several times. I’d tuck their sweet little roots in at dusk. By early morning their carcasses were laid out end to end. All they needed was a funeral dirge and some tiny caskets. Personally, I was blaming the squirrels. Although this modus operandi was more delicate, the destruction was equally devastating. I already knew what they were capable of. However, the true “perps” were exposed at dawn one day.

I was luxuriating with a steaming cup of dark roast on the deck. My feet were propped up on cushions and I was having one of those nature-bonding moments that can happen in late spring. While meditating on a sky that was as pink as if it had been smeared with strawberry jam, I was distracted by action in a raised bed. Dirt was flying like confetti on New Year’s Eve. It was a robin. I assumed it was looking for worms but this was one of those lasagna gardens with newspaper on the ground and layers of sterile organic goodies. There would be no worms.

“Do you hear me, Robin? There are no worms!”

It continued to toss seedlings. Perhaps it was only interested in an easier, softer way to dig, even though there could be no fruits for its labor.

I switched to beet and radish seeds and by the time they had stems and leaves the robin had lost interest, wizened up, or otherwise moved on. It was an excellent beet and radish year.

Spring warmed up into summer and the season became curiouser and curiouser. A Black Knight butterfly bush sprung up in the middle of my front garden lilies. Moonwalker and saw-toothed sunflowers popped up in front of the tomatoes and next to the sidewalk. Multi-branched they climbed to 16 feet. The stalks were as thick as a quarter and echoed the tale of Jack and the Bean stalk. Sturdy yellow blossoms moved with the sun as it crossed the summer sky. Two hardy tomato plants miraculously appeared in the middle of a tub of geraniums.  They just might blossom before Halloween.

I’m sure the squirrels and the birds were responsible in some way. Whether they were making deliberate amends or continuing to stake a personal claim in my garden, the result was magical. This tug of war with nature is partly why I garden. The interplay between my vision and nature’s “will” creates my personal paradise.

Carol is a sixty-four-and-a-half year old gardener, grandmother, poet and writer, goddess-centered ritual creator and social worker. She has been a member of Story Circle Network for three years and feels like she has been born again.

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