Wednesday, July 04, 2007

4th of July

It’s night over Bedford-Stuyvesant and the sound fireworks sizzling are still in the air. I couldn’t help but wonder about the people who chose to set them. Perhaps for them it was just something you do on the 4th of July. The calendar in my bathroom greeted me this morning with this quote at the bottom of the page, “America the beautiful, who are you beautiful for?” The quote is from Savage Inequalities, Jonathan Kozal’s 1991 book about the crisis in New York City’s public schools. Those words disturbed me. This week my block was cluttered on trash day with the furniture of people who have moved out this week. I couldn’t help but think that the look of the furniture, old, stained couches and box springs with the wood frame showing, was an indication that all has not been well for those folks in a long time. All is not so beautiful, but yet we carry on.

Our 4th of July was pretty typical. We played music, set up a table in the gallery and prepared food. My husband set up the grill and barbecued the typical eats for our tenants, on the second floor and us. When I wasn’t fussing at him about the shots of fire in the air as he was prepping the grill, I was busy digging in dirt. I was making the soil ready for planting. For about two hours I was using a hoe to break the ground and then disengaging large stones and pebbles from the soil. I set them in a pile and eventually used them to boarder other plants that have taken root. There is a small bush of catnip and another plants whose name I can’t remember, but has the most beautiful leaves pink in the center of a dark green. It looks bright and happy. So far I have transplanted 3 plants and the only one that looks great is that one. Gardening has been a series of trial and disappointment. Yet, I am determined to plant. My great grandmother did it, my father does it still. I am carrying on that tradition of connecting with the earth, no matter where I live, no matter how small the plot of land.

It has been a battle of me against the squirrels. I started some plants indoors a few months back. My friend Sheela had given me a wonderful gift of gladiola bulbs and starter cups. I planted them and set them in the hallway where the light is perfect. The directions said for best results start indoors and then transplant outside. I was thrilled when in a few weeks they began to sprout. I decided to take them up to the roof and grow them there. I have this vision of growing plants on the roof as well as the backyard. My vision was short lived. One morning I went up to check on their progress and saw that the cartons were ripped apart, the bulbs dug out and tossed all about. The soil I had planted them in was everywhere. Some of the bulbs were on the other side of the roof. Upon further investigation, the bulbs had teeth marks in them and other bulbs were just gone. I was freaked out. Last week I watched from the window as a squirrel sat in a pot of pansies and dug them out. He was not disturbed, by my banging on the window. He just kept on working on that plant until he had pulled the whole thing out and left the green stem on the ground. One of my tenants suggested I grow chili peppers. That’ll fix ‘em.

On another note, a friend sent me this opinion piece by Keith Olbermann. Click on the title and you'll be linked to the article. I’ve changed my format with Blogger and am still working on the page set up. I so dug what he said. Check it out. Until next time, I’m here just trying to keep this small portion of the United States beautiful and sustainable.

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