Patience comes to the bones
Updated: May 24
Patience isn't my strongest suit. Every day I have to restrain my greedy fingers from reaching out, squeezing, pulling, picking apricots growing, slowly but incrementally golden now, as the sun strides longer hours across my days, turning up the temperatures. There's nothing so sweet as desert sun ripened apricots. I don't want to spoil the experience by harvesting unripe fruit. But oh! the wait is killing me!
The bone quack down south and the occupational therapist I managed to see (once so far) concur that I am too impatient, trying to rush the river with the broken bones healing process. I have been put back in a (hot, sweaty, uncomfortable) brace for the majority of the time and especially at night. Paddling, down dogs and any wrist load bearing asanas are forbidden. I persist with Qigong and hope poet Mary Oliver is right "...Patience
comes to the bones
before it takes root in the heart
as another good idea...."** (see below for full poem)
Impatience too coloured my judgement recently when I told someone that the yellow Kniphofia (often called red hot poker or torch lily though it's not a lily) was a puny variety. Now I think I maligned the yellow variety. They seem to just be short and stubby by nature, and come to bloom a tad later than the vibrant tall, orange ones. If this season's performance in my outback garden is anything to go by, that is. I am loving the bright butter yellow torches popping up from the two clumps introduced last spring . They remind me of the once rare yellow Clivia miniata which carries another whole load of family baggage and might or might not be the cause of some alienation from a certain blonde blue eyed sibling. Then again my siblings and I have seriously dysfunctional relationships well outside of yellow clivia possessiveness. The short story: said sibling was going through a divorce and gave me her precious rare yellow clivia. I planted it in my garden. When sibling's divorce was done and they had a new place to put down roots, the clivia was dug up out of my garden, replanted in their garden. I hadn't read the fine print designating me temporary foster care not adoption. Apparently. It all comes down to communication. Or my own impatience with details.
Meanwhile the clump of orange Kniphofia is done blooming for now. The beautiful long flower stalks are knobbly with seed pods. Obviously pollinators, and I am hoping a few hummingbirds, had their pleasure here. Pollinators are one of my reasons for nurturing these blooms. Another is nostalgia since I knew these first as a wildflower across the hills and green valleys of the old country.
Meanwhile what I think is another old country player, Aristaloe aristata is flowering. While it wasn't in the best of health when I found it on a sale table at a plant market in Santa Fe last year, and is still looking a bit ratty, this little spotted baby did survive winter outside. Not many aloes do. It was labeled Lace Aloe or Guinea Fowl Aloe and the vendor/plant breeder told me excitedly that he had been to South Africa. But he didn't seem to understand the difference between the Karoo and the Drakensberg as habitats or biomes. I have come to be a bit sceptical of North American plant nursery labeling too, especially of the South African flora. My favorite horticulturalist, who is also the most patient person I know, tells me that aloes and haworthias, like squash, melons and maize, cross pollinate with abandoned promiscuity.
Unlike in the gardens of my childhood which were curated by science informed botanists, environmentalists and artists, I will never know whether my old country plants are true representatives of their species. How much transformation, miscategorization and misunderstanding have they undergone in their migration journey? I empathize as I persist.
In December 2021 I went a little ornamental allium crazy. I blame midwinter demons. I'm not good with short days and long cold nights. I mail ordered a whole lot of bulbs of a few different varieties which looked so lovely in the marketing pictures.
Azure allium turned out to be something white, not blue at all, and the 25 bulbs of Allium sphaerocephalon (Drumstick allium) while they came up as spindly clumps of grey green leaves, did nothing in the flower department until this year, almost eighteen months after planting.
Right now I have an area of the outback displaying the tall, quirky and oh so lovely heads of this particular variety of ornamental allium in various stages of maturity. Another lesson in patience for me.
I had intended growing these as cut flowers for the market.
Now I'm not so sure. I'm leaning rather toward keeping them in the garden for my own private pleasure.
The alliums contribute a rather lovely linear and Seussical quality (right of this bed above in an image taken just before sunrise about a week ago). The shape and increasing magenta colour goes well with the crazy chaos of white from yarrow and Shasta daisies, yellow Berlandiera lyrata (chocolate flowers) purple Tahoka daisies and grey of Santolina. There's a fig tree sporting an I-survived-winter tuft of leaves at the top, in the middle of that planting. Volunteer Tithonia and sunflowers might or might not be granted permission to continue to live there as the season progresses. They provide shade and bird feed but can also be space hogging smotherers.
A huge poppy flower of palest lavender opened to bees at sunrise. Who knows whether this was self sown from last year or was one of my black or breadseed Papaver somniferium sowings in late winter this year?
Whatever their specific seed pack name, I look forward to a harvest of poppyseed for muffins and pancakes.
While I was really disappointed at last week's ban on paddling by the medical professionals, I look to the garden to cultivate a bit more patience in myself, even as I begin to slap at mosquitoes in the early morning hours.
**Patience - Mary Oliver
What is the good life now? Why,
look here, consider
the moon’s white crescent
rounding, slowly, over
the half month to still another
the shining eye
that lightens the hills,
that lays down the shadows
of the branches of the trees,
that summons the flowers
to open their sleepy faces and look up
into the heavens.
I used to hurry everywhere,
and leaped over the running creeks.
time enough for all the wonderful things
I could think of to do
in a single day. Patience
comes to the bones
before it takes root in the heart
as another good idea.
I say this
as I stand in the woods
and study the patterns
of the moon shadows,
or stroll down into the waters
that now, late summer, have also
caught the fever, and hardly move
from one eternity to another.