Monday, August 9, 2021

There are now four shrubs in the new back-garden bed. In the far corner is a big panicle hydrangea, the kind with loose, flattish flowers, whose color shifts from white to wine-red. To create a small hedge in the middle, I planted a pair of summer sweets--oval, upright bushes covered with sweet-scented white flower spikes. And closest to the house I dug in a Winterthur viburnum, a spring bloomer, with white flowers followed by clusters of berries ripening from pink to deep purple.

So far, so good: they look delighted to be out of their pots and into their new rich-soil home. At some point this week, I'll pick up two more summer sweets to fill in the hedge, and I'll also go perennial shopping: I need to get a bunch of plants into the ground so that their roots can keep the loose soil heap from eroding. But this is a good start, and it looks beautiful from the kitchen window. Every change in the backyard feels so momentous: it was such an ugly desert when we moved in, and I am taking great pleasure in the improvements. I never think of myself as a visual artist: I'm terrible with a camera, and I don't have a deep comprehension of painting. But I am so affected by landscape. 

Which reminds me: between garden chores, I spent the day reading Tessa Hadley's novel The Past, which I am loving. How have I never heard of her before? She's magnificent. This book, set in rural England, reminds me in a way of John Fowles's evocations of landscape: the way a place can become mythic, even as one exists inside it. So I've been thinking about that: of the task of creating the mythic. A daunting notion.

Today I have a bit of editing to finish, and then I'll probably turn my thoughts to housework and weeding and perhaps another nursery visit. The boys both texted yesterday, both sounding cheerful and busy. Turns out Paul really likes his new roommates, so that is a huge bonus for him. And he got called back for a second interview today, so that's great too. James is working long, long days, and being driven crazy by numerous ridiculous over-the-top TV-show issues, but he is lively and social and very hardworking, and in a way he seems to thrive on this kind of energy and the camaraderie of the crew. Two young men in their twenties: jumping headfirst into the waves.

But I'm happy enough, paddling around in my shallows. I've always liked tide pools--the gleaming shells of snails, the cracked urchin; the seawater straining and eddying. 

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