Sunday, February 20, 2011

Outside, Over Here

It did not stay quiet for long. In fact our day was so full and busy, I can hardly believe it was only one day. For now, I will reflect on the parts of the day when Maria and I were playing, in the garden, between storms.

I found our box of sidewalk chalk... in the rain, and full of water. Some misfortunes are not as bad as they first appear. While Maria was inside adoring the new the batch of coloring books freshly shipped from Grandma and Grandpa Valentine Boo-Boo, I was overcome by an urge to color too. The water logged chalk acted like pastels, or thick paint. It was fun dragging the creamy chalk across the porous sidewalk. Out came a rainbow, then a chicken, some flowers and vines, a leaping bunny. Then came a phone call, or the dryer buzzer or some other distraction, and I left my sidewalk world to the rain.

I wish you could have heard the exclamation and amazement that came from Maria's being when she turned a corner and found the pictures. She was delighted and confounded, mouth agape and hands gesturing who and how?

Oh, this is such precious age, when she is in awe of the world, and thinks her very own momma is a chalk artist.

She asked, rather solemnly, if she could hang her art with my art, in the sidewalk gallery. And of course I was honored... and so the princess Maria appeared, and more flowers and vines, some grass, and also a cube, which does not appear in the pictures.

I took her picture. And Alex and I were amused by "the stance." My mom has pointed this pose out to me, and yes, it does appear frequently. Casually, we said, "Okay. Now stand another way."

She was perfectly obliging.

After thirty one days of January Summer, the ground was hard packed and dry. Thank goodness for these new storms, and all the rain. I realized that this would be the perfect time to plant the gifts Geoff and I shared on Valentine's Day.

The earth is soft, and willing to be dug-up. Once again, Maria was back to her coloring books, and I was outdoors playing... this time in the dirt. I added a dozen more nasturtiums to the orchard, while the chicas kept me company. I love to be in their clucky company. They are so silly and amiable when new garden corners are accessible.

Look! A bud. This is very graftifying! <----- I so punny. This bud is from a graft that Doug the Arborist taught me how to do. My uncle was here about a month ago and he came with cuttings, marvelous fruit varieties, that together we added to our young trees. I am so utterly amazed to see them already showing signs of a successful union.

Here is our generous apple tree. This is the third, fourth? bloom she has displayed in a year. We have harvested three times already! I feel like she merits a name.

Do people do this? Name their apple trees? Yes, I think they must. I am thinking "Lucia," or perhaps "Mabel."

This is from another apple tree.
Hmmmmm... one apple, four children. It's a good thing we are not relying on our garden to sustain us.

Which reminds me... I really must plant more peas. When peas are ripening... oh peas! I just know nothing will compare with the deliciousness of these peas! We will want to have plenty, or more than plenty. A plethora of peas, please!

Tending the tender tendrils. Maria came back outside, and together we resumed planting... Hollyhocks and Rosemary.

Dear viola. I love you. Your sweet and earnest face. You brighten the garden with your tiny blossoms. I know... I know some would question the purpose or need of such an unassuming flower, but for me they are a symbol of the good a garden does, the small and yet miraculous endurance of their lives cannot be taken for granted or crushed.

Maybe that is a lot of poetry and glory for a flower, but I am reminded of all the small yet vital things in our lives that are in peril. I am thinking of Public Broadcasting and NPR, of the threat that they will lose their federal support. I understand that the economy is a shambles, that a bad economy hurts, and I have seen these days coming... but this is absurd. We fund prisons, we fund wars, we fund dictatorships, we arm terrorists... our taxes go to a lot of destructive corners. We give corporations huge tax exemptions and monetary incentives, in the hope that their success will eventually trickle down to the laborers and citizens that are paying taxes...

In the face of all this, is it really asking too much to fund Sesame Street, and Nature, Live From Lincoln Center? Why would we want to forfeit Nova, All Things Considered, The McNeil Lehrer News Hour, Masterpiece Theater? Art, science, educational programming... these are small tokens of our culture and innovation, our heritage and ambition, but they yield huge returns. They are an insightful, affordable means of providing thought provoking, informative lessons, and engagement with our community and the world. They are evidence of our nation's creativity and resourceful history. Why would we devalue and cast aside an investment in our minds, in our access to diverse, entertaining, educational, meaningful programming?

Wars and prisons are not privately funded. We don't have pledge drives for bombs, for corporate jets, for congressional buffets... I want my taxes, my contribution to this country to go to Public Broadcasting. I want to invest in art and beauty, in topical discussions of the news of the day. I want my share of the American Dream to go for science, nature, world news, technology, history, and diy programming. I value the voices, and perspectives, the awareness and insight I gain from Public Broadcasting. And if you do too, I hope you will join me in supporting 170 Million Americans For Public Broadcasting.

We need to nurture and support beautiful things. We need to make room in our lives for the seeds of learning that insure a bright, intelligent future. Without flowers, without tending our gardens, we may find ourselves with a bleak, hard-packed, dry, reality.


test said...

You have no idea how much I agree with what you have to say in the part about NPR and so on.
And again i love your drawings on the pavement, it's like doing a artwork in the sand knowing in a short time it all will be gone and you can not be attached to it at all.

Miriam said...

I'm with you all the way. We have similar issues here. For example, why should we be paying millions of dollars for a post-wedding-of-the-century visit from Kate and William this summer, when funding for education across the country keeps getting cut back? I think if everyone was responsible for keeping some violas, or some peas, or a chicken alive, our collective view of the world would be different, and the world would be a better place.

judy in ky said...

Amen, sista!

Alison said...

You are an artist! I see where your kids get their talents. (Ok, maybe Geoff had something to do with it, too.)

From my experience, it is impossible to plant enough peas. Impossible. But always worth trying to achieve.

NPR and PBS have always been part of my life. But so many Americans' lives are circumscribed by the search for material gain--trips to the mall, how much can I get for $5? (regardless of quality), how big a car can I afford?, who's winning at American Idol?--that creativity, analysis and altruism aren't even in their universe. What has happened to our greater spirit, of looking beyond ourselves, of thinking of the distant future?

Oh my, I've just depressed myself. I think I'll go gaze at your violas for a while!

Jennifer said...

It was as though I could feel, smell the air in your garden; it was a post that brought me straight there, to you.

I too am disheartened and angry over the whole PBS and NPR situation. But there's also this part of me that shakes my head and wonders why this kind of programming isn't produced commercially -- what I mean is, since there is so clearly a market for these tv and radio shows, and since it's a pretty favorable market (demographically) to reach, why aren't there any of the well-funded, highly functioning private companies doing this kind of work? Why does it take public funding of government programs to produce the good stuff? Do you know what I mean? I'm not remotely against the public, the government funding of it -- I just don't get why it seems to be the only avenue to quality.

Tiglizzyclone said...

Wonderful chalk art!! And those are such lovely apple blossoms and violas! I tried to grow an apple tree from seed once but it only produce little tiny apples.

Tracy said...

Chalk artist... I need to reacquaint myself with sidewalk chalk! LOVE those sidewalk sketches! Viola... the smiling faces of viols and pansies make a heart happy. :o) But I am sad over the NPR business, profoundly sad. I grew up on NPR, and living abroad I still tune in via net radio... It breaks my heart that slowly it is being eroded. For all the costs of war alone, think of how much it could all go towards public radio & TV! :o( Thanks for speaking out about this important, burning issue, Natalie ((HUGS))

Oiyi said...

That sidewalk art was a perfect collaboration!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

They are all gone!
We've had such a wonderful series of storms, and now our art has vanished. I came home with more plants to add to the garden, and I think Maria and I will be coloring the sidewalks again too. It's fun. Now I am tempted to delibertly pre-soak the chalk!
Jennifer, I share your thoughts, and it comes around to the observation Flartus makes about the *quality* of programming available too. I do wish there were greater expectations of all our media, not just NPR... it makes me ill and sad to see all the money and attention generated by *Funniest American Idol Housewives of the Reality Shore.* And poor Canada! Isn't it crazy what lengths we go to for the travel *needs* of a couple of honeymooners? Waste, waste, waste.
Chalk and flowers! I need art therapy!