Stories, Learning & Place

Monday, October 13, 2008

Beside the sumac
   Autumn gardening during the cold civil war

Sumac, Umphrey's gardens

I put on a heavy sweater to plant spring bulbs. Pink tulips, white tulips and every color of hyacinth. It’s a way of looking past winter, which I feel on my cheeks, in my legs, and hear in the cold tonality of the election fight this year.

The ground is not yet frozen. The dahlias are black and fallen, the peonies still green.

One of my designs is to divide the pinkest peony, the fragrant one, when it goes dormant. I have a hedge of red peonies that bloom earlier that I want to move back, to make room for pink peonies and lilies in front of it, so when the red peonies fade in June the blooms will continue. I pause at a wilted bug bane and wonder again what I might plant around it. Dwarf asters?

Through the cooling weekend, I plot a thousand little things, a small swirl of intentions, lifting and settling moments of color, drifts of scent in a distant summer I build from memory.

Am I dreaming or remembering? I look at the red sumac, bleeding or flaming with something too doomed for defiance, too lovely for defeat.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 10/13 at 10:50 PM
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©2008 Michael L. Umphrey
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