I have been reading GreenPrints for many years. This year, you have the opportunity to get some great Christmas artwork done by my very good friend Linda. With it you can send a very special gift to your gardening friends even me! I wanted to share it with you but you will have to visit GreenPrints on Facebook to see it.
Linda and I go back more than a few years, back before we retired, all the way back to our old garden in Unadilla, NY. I never even thought about writing about the garden then, but I knew Linda was perfect to illustrate for Green Prints. She sent in an article with her fantastic illustrations. It was accepted. Linda and I were both thrilled. She encouraged me to send in a story about my garden and I did. Mine was rejected. We laughed about needing a magazine called "The Compost Pile" as a place for all our rejected stories. Linda has been illustrating for the magazine ever since. She has not missed a single issue. I remember how excited she was when she got her first cover. With permission, she autographed the copies in the nearest Barnes and Noble. Both of her covers are pictured above. I happened to find my rejected story the other day. Here it is in "The Compost Pile."
"What a beautiful morning!" I think as I prepare for a glorious day in the garden. Putting on my sunscreen, my old jeans, a big loose shirt and my floppy hat, I can feel the anticipation. Nothing makes me happier than spending time in my garden. Out the door I go with my tool bucket and my bucket for harvesting compost (weeding to some folks).
What a treat it is to work in an herb garden. The air is filled with so many wonderful smells. Peppermint, lemon verbena, bee balm, southernwood and lavender all release their aroma as I brush by them. Today I'm harvesting compost among the sage plants that grow next to the beautiful wood steps that Ed built for me. Now some people get rid of weeds with a hoe. I get down on my hands and knees and get into my work. Things are going well. The weeds come out easily. My compost bucket is filling up. The intoxicating aroma of sage is in the air. Every time the plants are touched they release more of their delightful smell.
Suddenly I feel a stab of pain! "Ouch" I thought. "That was a bee." When a second sting came and then a third, I became aware of buzzing all around me. Panic ensued! I jumped up and fled down the steps with the bees in hot pursuit. They were under my hat and inside my shirt stinging me unmercifully. As I ran down the driveway, I dropped my tools, threw off my hat and ripped off my shirt. I ran into the house to escape the swarm and jumped into the shower still wearing what was left of my clothes. What a mess. I was covered with red ugly stings, swelling by the minute. How could my beautiful peaceful day in the garden turn into such misery? I found the Benedril and took it at once.
That evening when Ed got home we went out to investigate the situation. There they were, still angry yellow jackets nesting underneath my garden steps. After watching them flying back and forth, it became obvious that it was dangerous to cross their path. Ed went to the hardware store and came home with yellow CAUTION DO NOT CROSS tape and strung it across the entrance to my beautiful garden. Now it looked like a crime scene. I was distraught.
For two days I was in retreat. My mind was consumed with plans to get rid of my tormentors. Burning was out of the question. The nest was directly under the steps. Poison crossed my mind, but chemical weapons in an organic garden? Never! "Put a clear bowl over the entrance to their nest", a gardening friend suggested. This seemed like a good idea but was impractical for this nest under the steps. The situation seemed hopeless. That evening we went out and when we came home after dark, I saw something big furry, black and white in the driveway. SKUNKS! When the lights of the truck hit them, seven skunks, mom and six babies, scurried off in the direction of the barn. "What next?" I thought. "Locusts?"
The next day when I went outside there was no buzzing. There were no bees. Carefully approaching the garden, I saw something incredible. There was a large and lovely hole dug under the side of the steps. The dreaded yellow jackets were gone. The faint, but familiar scent in the air said it all. The beautiful mother skunk and her babies had eaten the yellow jackets during the night. How good it felt to remove that nasty yellow tape and fill in the hole. I could walk up the steps to my beautiful garden again. That evening I sat on the bench in the garden with a cup of tea waiting for the evening scented stock to release its fragrance. It was so nice to be back. I guess I have room for seven skunks under the barn. You can't always tell who your allies are. Tomorrow I'll harvest the weeds under the sage plants. At least for now, there is peace in the garden again.
I admit I did a tiny bit of editing myself. I couldn't help it. Maybe what I found was my first draft. After all not everything goes in "The Compost Pile" either. Merry Christmas to everyone, and especially to Linda. I hope this makes her smile!!!!!