Thursday, June 21, 2012

snake in the garden

I found a huge swath of prairie cactus yesterday as I was mowing the lawn. I am fascinated that cactus can grow here --I've lived in the deserts of Southern California --I know cactus... but this little pink and green prickly is so unassuming... I saw one in a larger and more assuming state in a cemetery the other day. It had grown several feet tall and was getting ready to bloom. A fierce bloom, actually. But I didn't have my camera with me....

And I was fascinated as I drove in to Pierre, the State Capital (pronounced 'peer') --the winter wheat is fully grown and suddenly turning a doe-colored brown. When the wind blows (the wind always blows in SD --it is only a matter of degree), it looks like a lake stirred by the wind, wave after wave cresting and falling. Now that the grass is drying out, there is a new noise, a chatter --a brittle chafing laughter what wafts in the car window as I drive by.

I noticed the same wind-swept drying in my own lawn as I mowed. Despite recent heavy rains, the grass is spent and going to seed, the stems drying out and turning stiff enough to pick and place between the teeth. The birds are loving it... and are also beginning to risk hanging out closer to the house in the hedge by our patio --there is small fruit forming --small soft red fruit that is still very bitter.


The still type-unknown hedge now bearing little berries
See why I think they might be huckleberries?!

The meadowlark and the robin are having words about who gets to pick this fruit... I hope they leave enough for me.... In another part of the yard there is a wild and coveted choke-cherry. The fruit is still very hard and green... a ways to go yet. The elder women all speak with great affection for the fruit --when sweet, picked and mashed --pit and all, then dried and formed in to biscuit-sized patties for easy storage, transport and when the time comes reconstitution --soak it in water, botta-bing, a fruit smoothie Lakota way. I asked one of the elders (she's 94 or 95... no one can really remember) if she would show me how to do it. Of course, she said. But it will turn your hands red! Then she smiled and lifted her eye-brow.... Pun intended.

And then in the back, there are purposeful trees --they look like dwarf fruit trees, all in little rows growing up in the middle of rubber tires --I suppose that was to protect them from lawn mowers. But, now they are choked with what looks like suckers --unproductive branches coming straight up from the root stock. Too many suckers will displace the fruit-bearing branches. And the ground inside the tire is choked with weeds... But I can't get in to it to clean it all up --I have seen about four large snakes back in that area, and a tire would be a perfect place for a snake-nap.... So, I will have to wait until next winter to clean them up --cut the suckers and pull the weeds... perhaps take a saw to the tires....

Some days I laugh at myself --puttering about, dreaming of domesticating at least some part of this wildness --cactus, fruit, grasses, snakes.... The Senior Warden has come over and one of the snakes greeted her.... She is quite alarmed and wants them gone. I keep reminding her that we don't have any mouse problems....

At prayer this morning (Matthew 18-18-20)

[Jesus said,]
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
I have always dreamed of heaven as a place unfettered, undomesticated, wild --where we will finally be at home in the wilderness.... I hope and pray that impulse to tame, cut, harvest will not be loosed in heaven, but that we will live in the glory of God's wild imagination... and my appreciation for that wildness is saturating my imagination more deeply every day --wounding my hands and heart as I try to impress my own vision of order, allowing an opening for the wildness to seep in.... Perhaps there are two or three of us who might pray for such a heaven.... Please dear God, no pearly gates... no streets of gold... just your creation, as you dream it.... I think I'm beginning to understand why you put a snake in the garden.... So you yourself do not run the danger of domestication... a snake to keep you on your toes. Amen.

4 comments:

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Where's the "like" button on Blogger?

Lovely, Margaret. You are become a child of the wilderness.

Blessed and blessing. Thanks be to God.

Ann said...

They are NOT huckleberries - do not eat them. Are there two on each stem? Could be Twin Berry -- the extension agents give them away for wind breaks and hedges.

it's margaret said...

Eastern huckleberries are deciduous and have leaves that look like this. No, there are not two berries to a stem... they're single. I won't eat them until I know what they are, don't worry.

Joel said...

I ate one after lecturing a robin to leave some for the humans. Socrates would have loved them!