Inspiration steeped in fog

August 22, 2011

Well, it’s been ages.  The title of this post is a dead giveaway that my own inspiration seems to be coming and going with the fog here in Northern California.  In and out, not always burning brightly until 3pm, and then only for an hour or so.  Inspiration is a thin, smudged-up hard to open window these days.  Still, it’s a window.

After a frantic early summer, I have literally been head down in the garden, working the dirt and working it some more.  Learning these lessons again and again:  beginnings, leavings, plants gracefully growing and sometimes tragically ending.   Mildewy bud upon mildewy leaf.  Such is the way of the garden, and it is not always easy to accept.  (Like the fog.)

Still, there are glimmers of loveliness and some clear blue skies (which are always a guaranteed inspiration for me.) And of course the fog itself has very important things to offer:

First of all,  a deep and lasting, quiet.  I love how it becomes a buffer for city sounds.  Instant auditory insulation.  Amen.

Then there are the soaked bumblebees early in the morning.  There is something so dearly vulnerable about their damp, slow bodies.  They are a metaphor…we must move slowly through this dense blanket.  Buzzing is for warm days.

With the fog we don’t need to water our gardens as much.  And topical moisture is very nice for the skin.  I know you are appreciating my optimism here, but of course there is a cold side…

When it’s foggy, it feels to me like the world has been turned inside out and we are surrounded by our inner lives.   No more turning from the shadowy side of our existence.  It’s damn foggy.  The fog is in (us)!  It can be spooky sometimes.  Grumbly.  Nurturing.  Either way, it’s always a teachable moment, asking us to take a closer look at ourselves, as we can’t see the nearest (any)thing.

And so, while I work on developing my patented “Fog Suit” (No, I am really not kidding),  I thought in the meantime I would make a fog serum.  Because it never hurts to have a little help from our (plant) friends.   A lovely extract of Lemon balm, St. John’s Wort, and Ashwagandha.  Stamina for the fog, in a bottle.  One ounce is $10.00.  Available in fog-sized quantities, whatever that means to you.  To order call 415.613.7010 or email at   Shipping available.

Photographs by the wonderful Daniel Norris.  Thanks Dr. Dan.

I love my garden.

I love it’s imperfections.

They exist because I neglect my garden, truthfully.

Although I believe they would exist anyway, despite my best efforts.  For you see, there is no such thing as the perfect garden. Nature has other ideas…and gardening is inherently a human activity.  Only humans would want to tinker with THE Garden that they had been given.

Tulip ala Anne...

Anne Frost, my upstairs neighbor (and fellow professional gardener) planted these gorgeous tulip bulbs in our backyard.  They have been open for the last week or so, reluctant to  expose their sexual parts to the ridiculous hail, rain and fiercely fickle March sunshine of the SF bay area.  The benefit of their reluctance is that we get to have them around a little longer.   They also teach me a (repeat) lesson about the impermanence of things.  I understand that they must fade, and so I appreciate them for what they are now.

I also wish I could have captured how really special they look against our neighbor’s robin’s egg blue wall.

Urban gardening is an exercise in letting go.

Lemon verbena trunk meets tulip meets retaining wall...

We live in a canyon of the buildings.  We don’t get too much in the way of sun back there…Sometimes it’s loud music stacked with laughter at all hours.  The humans may suffer their neighbors habits, but the plants still grow regardless of what he said/she said.  I consider this a minor miracle.   I also happen to believe that these green survivors really like their deep urban habitat.

For example, I have a fruiting raspberry patch for 6 months out of the year (!) The disappearing lemon balm reappeared!  The Forget Me Nots wink at me and remind me of both the Sierra Nevada forests and the Wisconsin woods of my childhood.   This is charmed.  This is medicine for the urban soul…

Through the looking glass...

This is a perfect nesting place for a Mourning dove?   I suspect it’s far from perfect, but it certainly is available and utilized and loved–more than I tend to realize.

The temptation for me is to criticize all that my garden is not…after all, people pay me to work in their gardens.

But the lesson of our garden is that it is enough.   It is enough for the Silver Lady Ferns, and the rescued boxwood, and the aging Pieris japonica.

And that is a metaphor for life.  My garden is imperfectly beautiful, and it is enough for me.

Mourn no more...