August is such a weird month. There’s that particular light (the first time I read Light in August was..in August, sitting at Duff’s outdoor table in St Louis with the cicadas sawing their legs off and the trees! A green so dense and heavy it seems to permeate the air around it). I find August light to be the sharpest light of the year, yet it has a warm roundness to it; the very fact that I can’t describe it makes it indescribably poignant.
August is, oddly enough, a great time to visit a garden. There are people who would gasp! at that notion – roses are blown, Japanese Beetles are everywhere, grass is crunchy, the ‘green’ of the kitchen garden is all but gone…. But it’s my favorite time to visit. You get to see the bones of a space, what held its own through the Summer, what didn’t work (sometimes spectacular disasters, like my furthermost vegetable bed in my kitchen garden. That bed has given me splinters ever since I laid my garden out. I’ve finally cried ‘uncle’ and am going to have El O build a raised bed. A ton of dirt will be in the back of the pickup come Saturday – and I will be a fat, sweaty, happy mess, come Sunday)…but I digress. I don’t want to talk about my garden – I want to talk about a wonderful garden I stumbled upon, via…good grief! I don’t even know how I stumbled upon it! But no matter – this garden belongs to Shawna Coronado, who writes a wonderful blog about gardening, living a green life and making a difference in your community and the world, one little bit at a time. I have not been in the best frame of mind these past months and the urge to just go to bed and stay there has been strong, indeed. I fight that urge, daily, and the thing that makes me feel most like I might actually win is when I force myself to do something different. My ‘different’ for last week was to message Shawna on Facebook and see if I could visit her garden in Warrenville. She said yes, so I hied on over there and……..this is So Damn Strange…so we’re making the Hellos and I tell her where I live now….y’all understand that Where I Live is in the middle of absolutely nowhere, right? Not like ‘oh, I live in Morro Bay’ – a half million people live in MorroFreakin’BAY! Wyoming IL is 1,400 people strong, surrounded on ALL FOUR SIDES by miles and miles of cornfields. The chances of ANYBODY knowing where the hell this town is…..unlikely. Yet Shawna knew PERSACKLY where it is….because her mother-in-law is from here. SHUT UP! Your mother in law is from….(not sort of near – but actually FROM) Wyoming IL, population 1,400 Christian souls???…..wow. So once I picked up my jaw from the driveway, we went on a tour of her garden. It’s a delight, full of texture and color and fun…and wouldn’t you know it? Because she lives in the suburbs, she gets agita from the HOA and City all the blasted time. Research has shown that the suburbs are actually less ‘green’ than urban areas – there are so many rules and restrictions and lawns RULE! She planted the parkway at the back of her property with native plants to help pollination…and OMG! you’d have thought she punched a kitten in the face! I remember this from living in the suburbs – there is much resistance to ripping up lawn and replacing it with beneficial plantings. Shawna has prevailed (and is now something of a gardening celeb) and, perhaps, some of her neighbors will take a shovel from her shed and do the same. I’m slowly but surely ripping out our lawn (El O was adamant that I not do it so I’m going slow…so far I’ve widened the borders 12inches each year….by next year I will have cut the front lawn by 40%! shhhhh! ). I really admire that she is walking her talk. I won’t waste your time blatheratin’ about her life – you can read it on her blog. But I am of the Posse, so I wanted to know how she felt about perfume in the garden (it’s August – and the ragweed is high, so I’m faking the perfume thing. In truth, I can’t smell anything other than oregano and habaneros right now)……..she is not a perfumista and her garden isn’t chockablock with fragrant flowers – but we talked about herbs and their gorgeous scents. She crushed some chocolate mint – and suddenly I was surrounded by York Peppermint patties! Yum!
And we looked at her back wall….and if I wasn’t already half in love with her, I was all-in when I came upon this:
Alas, we had to cut it short but I came away with a newfound respect for what one person with a vision (which started with her planting around her mailbox, btw – nothing more than that!) can do! It doesn’t have to take a lot of money (in her garden’s case, a good 80% of the structural/accessories are found/traded/repurposed) – and it doesn’t have to be done all at once – she’s been working on her garden for quite awhile, in bits and pieces. And, of course, it doesn’t have to be a garden. It doesn’t even need to be a ‘known passion’ – she liked to garden but I don’t think she ever envisioned how much of her life it would become.
So, verily I say unto you: what, other than perfume, have you stumbled upon that has become a driving force in how you live your life? Mine is homesteading – no one, least of all me, could’ve imagined me raising chickens! Sometimes I feel like wearing my Loubs out to clean the coop! Tell me your story and we’ll do a giveaway!!. I’ll have Leg peck a random dot org and the winner will get a little bag of perfume fun. It’s the least I can do for you guys putting up with my August garden ramblings!