The basement in my dream was large, windowless, and poorly lit. I wore a white cable-knit sweater from my teen years. The sweater became increasingly dirty as I sorted through years of detritus.
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung posited that dream houses represent the self and rooms in those houses the memories we need to sort through. When I sort, it’s Throw Away, Give Away, Keep. Especially sorting in the third stage of life, and when I’m working in the yard in the light of day.
“You don’t play nice with the other plants,” I said to the local honeysuckle, growing in the planting bed on the slope above the upper driveway. I untangled honeysuckle vines wound around several fetterbush branches. “And you’re not even happy enough here to bloom. So, I’m sorry, but it’s time for you to go.” I pulled tendrils and roots, filling my weed scrub bucket.
Don’t get me wrong. Honeysuckles (Lonicera) can be fine plants—fragrant and colorful, hardy climbers and great for coverage. But the particular species that had invaded my planting bed was highly aggressive, a pest that had to go.
In the septic drain field below our house, the meadow is sprouting a variety of grasses and flowers, including the herbaceous perennial Anemone canadensis or meadow anemone. Spreading rapidly by underground rhizomes, the shoots have deeply divided and toothed leaves, and the flowers have 5 white, petal-like sepals with light green pistils and 80-100 yellow stamens. Meadow anemone bloom from late spring into the summer.
Most anemones contain caustic irritants, and perhaps that’s why the deer leave them alone. But stilt grass and other non-native invaders compete with the anemone. So, when I finish clearing the honeysuckle out of the upper slope, I’ll carry my scrub bucket into the meadow and pull weeds—as I wrote in Brevity’s blog last year. It’s taken time for me to tell the difference between those plants I wish to encourage versus their invaders—Weeding, a post from five years ago.
Throw Away, Keep.
On the rocky slope above the house and in the forest surrounding us are large stands of Kalmia latifolia, an evergreen commonly known as mountain laurel. These poor-soil-loving plants are usually classified as shrubs, but here at Vanaprastha, mountain laurels thrive in the acidic soil and often grow into small trees. Late May into June is their time to bloom. The flowers, which start as pink then open to white, are hexagonal and clustered.
Mountain laurel are toxic to humans—and to deer. So, while the deer partake of our buffet, I know they’ll leave the mountain laurel alone. As do I, because they are native-grown, not cultivated. No fertilizing, no pruning, no worrying about those that decide not to bloom, no deadheading those that do. They grow wherever and however they want.
In truth, all is God’s handiwork, given to us.
In my dream, a service person asked me if I was nearly finished clearing everything out of the basement. I looked at the remaining items—a large rain poncho in its dusty, plastic carrying case, a Christmas-themed baby’s bib, an assortment of garden tools. I sighed. “Do you think anyone would like these, if I cleaned them up?” I looked down at the sleeve cuffs on my dirty white sweater and saw they’d unraveled. Everything faded to nothing as I woke at dawn.
Time to let the dogs out,, start the coffee then grab the garden tools, and get into the yard. Rain is predicted for this afternoon, so I might need that poncho. And the bib? This weekend, my daughter said she and our granddaughter will be coming to Vanaprastha for Christmas.
That memory is a keeper.
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