One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

The Week That Was


So, yes…on Tuesday, the first of my cosmos plants began to bloom with this lovely white offering. It was a pleasure to finally see it. Except, it was not what I had expected. If you look at the photo on the seed packet at right, you’ll see (and may recall my mentioning in my anticipation) that I actually planted the seashell variety of the flower…and this is not that.

Now seed sorting is certainly not a perfect or absolute science, so such things are not all that unexpected. You may recall the solitary white cleome that grew from a pack of supposedly strictly purple cleome seeds earlier this summer, in fact.

Not only am I a big fan of the cosmos big beautiful flowers, that once begun will come again and again until Frost, but Owen is, too. They are one of the few plants in the garden he will actually make mention of when they are blooming. And so for both those reasons, I am always sure to include at least a few.

This, as you will see, is sort of ironic.

My friends, I have been quiet with you on a particular subject this summer, as I have spent much time looking into my heart and examining my life and trying to figure out what pieces of the puzzle were missing. There’ve been a few times that I’ve alluded to something, or suggested that I had things on my mind, but as I’ve mentioned time and again, I see this blog more a place to talk about the garden and the good things in life…and I don’t imagine you come here to for the Big Bring-Down that Life can be sometimes.

But on Tuesday of this week, I told Owen that I would be moving out. Ten years, I’ve realized, is a long time to stay in a relationship with an alcoholic who’s world view is wrapped almost entirely in his own opinions on any given subject.

I’m not saying there hasn’t been plenty of good times between us in those ten years. What an incredible fool I would be, otherwise, to have stayed so long.

But there’s also been lots of pain. Not physical pain – that would be much easier to walk away from, it turns out. But the more subtle pain that comes of knowing that someone you care for isn’t interested in what you have to say, doesn’t care about the way you see the world…or what you think about much of anything.

I could offer a long list of my unhappinesses here, but those have already been expressed to him and it’s largely a personal matter. Despite living in Massachusetts, one of the few states that recognizes gay marriage, we are not. That numbers among the issues, though just now I am sort of relieved that we never tied that knot.

He was completely surprised at the two and a half hours of things I had to say on Tuesday evening, which just shows you how f*cked communications have been between us. And that alone encourages me that I am making the right decision.

Owen has asked me to stay, to help him overcome the alcoholism and to give him a chance to make it up to me. To his credit, he’s not had a sip of vodka since Tuesday night. The apologies, the roses, the dinner and movie (*) are all nice things. But honestly, I’m not sure that I can or should stay.

Coming to this decision and preparing for it as this summer has progressed has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I feel a little broken at this end of our relationship. I need time alone, to regroup, to repair, to reintroduce me to who I am. On one hand, this is a sad thing, but truly, I’m also more than a little excited about the possibilities the future holds.

Of course, I have no idea what those will be. I have identified an apartment, a place which will be good for me in a variety of ways. There are some gardening possibilities there, though who knows just what form they may take. More on that another day.

You, my friends, you and your friendships have helped me through this difficult time as much as the beautiful flowers in my garden this summer, whether or not you knew you were doing so. Thanks.

Just a few of you have had my confidence as I quietly explored my heart and laid my plans, and I offer special thanks to each one of you for listening and helping my thought processes and comforting me and encouraging me to be true to myself. Better friends no man could ask for.


I have received a few emails from some of you who were a little disconcerted by my not posting as frequently this week, expressing your concern, wondering if everything was all right. Well, not exactly…but it could certainly be much worse. How am I? I suppose it’s safe to say that I am f*cking Smurfy, which leaves things wide open to all sorts of interpretations.

What do you know, Java’s right: these mushrooms do look better with a little person of some variety standing beside them.

And look: the canna lily is finally fixin’ to bloom!

I haven’t really been watching the Democratic National Convention this week. I’m still tired from all that late-night Olympics coverage. And considering all else that’s going on, you and the Dems will forgive me. But fear not, our deaf neighbor Ellie’s been watching with the volume up real loud, so even though I’ve been about other things, I feel like I’ve not missed a moment.

For those of you who haven’t seen the new web cartoon from Jib-Jab–you know they do one for every election now–I’ll send you off so you can have a laugh at their latest.

(*) In response to one of my lesser complaints that we never do anything together outside the workplace, last night Owen and I saw Mamma Mia at the local cinema. Not in the mood for anything particular deep, or painfully fluffy and pink or explosively action-packed, this was probably just the right thing. The setting is beautiful, the story amusing and of course, all the music straight from the ABBA library (lest you forget, the first record the Midnight Gardener bought with his own money was the single of “Dancing Queen” lo those many years ago...).

Meryl Streep was, as always, pretty fantastic, and has a surprisingly nice singing voice. Pierce Brosnan, too, sort of…though there was one part near the end where it just didn’t sound like him and I wondered about lip synching.

Amusingly, I’ve learned that the “sing-along” version of the movie hits cinemas today, with all the songs subtitled, because, as one wag put it, “You can’t do worse than Pierce Brosnan”. There was no need of subtitles last night, though, as everyone in our cine-plex seemed to know the lyrics.

It was a great time, at least until we got to Meryl’s powerhouse performance of The Winner Takes It All, which sliced a little too close to the bone for me this week. Still, the credit sequence at the end was pretty fantastic, with its flashy costumes and cameo by ABBA themselves…and we got to hear “Dancing Queen” twice!

The crickets in the neighborhood were singing up a storm when we got home last night, so they don’t need the subtitles either. But then, this louder voice drowned out all the others. With flashlight and camera in hand, I followed me ears outside and found this katydid in the garden across the street, it’s chirruping sound almost deafening.

It seems to come from the vibration of those membranes beneath the wings visible here.

Just for the record, despite everything else, it’s now been 42 days, 8 hours, 33 minutes and 44 seconds since my last smoke.

Smobriety, it’s a good thing.

* * * *

“I was in your arms,
thinking I belonged there

I figured it made sense,
building me a fence

Building me a home
Thinking I’d be strong there
But I was a fool, playing by the rules.”

The Winner Takes It All, ABBA, 1980

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