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Comparison Chopping or I Love the Smell of Lavender in the Afternoon


Working again means certain things will be put aside for another day. But other things, such as trimming the lavender, are time sensitive. An unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon seemed the opportune moment.

I was all set for a quiet, zen-like moment when the buzzsaw hubs showed up. As noted last year, spending time, plant by plant, to trim thoughtfully results in a nicely undulating hedge of robust blooms. Blunt cuts without careful deep trimming soon leads to lower bloom production and stifled plants.

The hubs has a different approach. There is he was, like that cigar-chomping officer in Apocalypse Now, mowing down the lavender bushes into the shape of large mushroom caps. And I’m hearing Vikings and Beekeepers (it’s playing at the 8-min. mark), a famous piece used in the movie and the SCTV sketch, playing in my head. And yes, that’s how I refer to that music; the real name doesn’t stick. Which reminded me to pick my battles. Carefully. And laugh.

So I worked closest to the sidewalk because those plants produce the best blooms. And I quit the task much earlier than planned. Sure enough, he gave up soon after. I’ll go back and finsih the overall trimming, and do some delicate trimming on the newly rounded plants once the warm weather really sets in and the hubs’ attention is absorbed in getting the vegetable garden planted. Patience. Oooommmmm.







Worthwhile Efforts

Lavender 1

Just got home from a fab, fun time with the fam. We’re a small clan. As my brother says, we could hold a family reunion in a phone booth. With spouses and kids, we might break 20. Speaking of the brother, in the spring he said, You occasionally exchange emails with Cousin 1; why don’t you ask her about getting together. She emailed back, That sounds good, and suggested meeting at her sister’s house. That covers the first cousins. Yes, we are a small clan. Cousin 2 rose to the challenge and we invaded her home on Sunday. Second Cousins 1 and 2, also sisters, joined in.

My big effort for this get together was baking cookies and driving the farthest. Yes, I’m feeling a little guilty right now. . . And the hubs stayed home sick. *cough*really!!*cough*whatever*cough* But it was so good to see everyone, he wasn’t really missed. Sorry hubs, your loss. It may have been the heat, but I even enjoyed talking with Cousin 1’s husband. . .(insert winky emoticon here!!).

Lavender 2

Over the course of the afternoon, just about everyone’s phones came out to share pics — of children, of pets, of home remodeling, of celebrations, of hobbies — but nobody took pictures. We were too busy being in the moment. So these pictures are of my lovely lavender; more about that later.

Cousin 1 and her hubs have put much effort into tracing their ancestry, and we are the lucky beneficiaries of her efforts: She presented each of us with a personalized tables of our lineage. The two of them have traveled around the Midwest and to Germany visiting and researching the places from whence we all came. (One German cousin contributed to the research and has practically joined the family.) Through the afternoon we added stories and details to fill in and expand on the well-researched facts. With more and more sharing about long-lost and long-gone relatives, the table figuratively got more and more crowded.

We’re also not a tight-knit group. We stay in touch, but we’re really, emotionally speaking, arm’s-length Germans. So a rich and full discussion of family was deeply rewarding but a little out of our collective character.

Of course, as we headed out, there was the chorus — We need to do this more often! Personally, I’m just very glad we did this, now. No need to put a weight on the future.

Bits of the conversation played and replayed in my head as I drove home. And just as I was feeling quite content with who we are, the song Que Sera, Sera by Pink Martini began. The song isn’t a favorite, but in the moment it had me all teary-eyed driving down the highway. Can’t really say why that song pinpointed the feeling, but it did. I got so emotional I forgot to curse the guy in Impala who, for the fifth time, passed me and then slowed down. Really dude!!

A brief shower started just as I pulled in the driveway. The rain removed the dust and sunshine that followed made the lavender amazingly vibrant. The modest effort I expended in the spring yielded brilliant results, the same way a brief email exchange lead to a lovely event.

Lavender 3

That makes me one happy little bee.






Last Year’s Lavender

Sunday’s warm weather inspired me to start an annual task that’s tedious but necessary, slightly sad but with the promise of joy: Cleaning the lavender bed. The yard drops off steeply along the front walkway so the bed gets lots of sun, has good drainage – a good spot for¬†lavender. For years we were graced with an enviable abundance of fragrant blooms. Trimming back the faded first bloom ensured a second bloom.

As with most things, time hasn’t been entirely kind. The older plants are no longer as vigorous. The gnarled old growth at the base of those plants looks like miniature grapevines – ruggedly attractive but wholly unproductive. At the front of the bed, the oldest plants have a horizontal rather than vertical habit. The newer plants grow upward, balancing the overall appearance.¬†Scattered gaps in the bed are reminders of varieties unable to withstand Midwestern winters. Perhaps the poor seedlings didn’t read the labels promising sufficient hardiness. They didn’t know they were supposed to survive.

This year I’m taking the task slowly, pruning with more thoughtfulness, kindness. The joy these plants can still give has to be coaxed out gently; trimming properly and, just as important, leaving well-spaced branches should reward us all in a couple of months.

After picking up the tools, I put the bin of trimmed branches in the garage, the pale scent of last year’s lavender filled the air.


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