Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Last Worker Bee

One way of getting the rest of the world to pay attention to what you are saying is to put your words into the mouth a well-respected, preferably uber-intelligent speaker.  It turns out that Albert Einstein probably never actually said "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live."  But that doesn't mean that it’s not true.

Queens and drones all gone –
the last worker bee brings sweets
to Earth’s farewell feast.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Last Call

Prompted by late afternoon sightings in the perennial garden in front of our family room.

Last Call 

 Pink phlox barstools bend 
‘neath bees obese with nectar 
 topping off their tanks.

Sunday, August 19, 2012



 Professional golf champion Annika Sörenstam says that the key to playing the game well is repeatability. Following that logic Mars and I recently went to our fifth iteration of the Road Scholar (nee Elderhostel) Golf School at Penn State University. This would have been our sixth consecutive trip but we involuntarily withdrew from last year’s session due to our respective recoveries from our respective cancers.

The university likewise had issues where some major members of its management team did bad (even terrible) things – but they likewise have been excised, and life as usual is attempting to resume at that institution.

Denise, the Head Coach of the PSU Women’s Golf Team, Andy her Assistant Coach, her predecessor coach Mary, and Steve, an Assistant Golf Pro at the college’s golf club, teach the class which runs Monday through Thursday with lessons in the morning and golf playing in the afternoon. The teachers accompany (some would say stalk) us when we play and offer critiques and advice.

Mars and I began playing golf twelve years ago. The main advantage of beginning this sport later in life is that it is one of the few things that we are getting better at as we get older.

This class is one of the main reasons for this positive trend. Over the years the student body has ranged from very experienced (almost “scratch”) golfers to an 85 year-old woman who had never even picked up a club until she came here. Several, like us, are multi-repeaters. This year’s group of seventeen was the most advanced that we’ve experienced – with the majority having played most of their lives, and currently competing in regular leagues.

We play together, by ourselves, on what is considered a “hacker’s nine holes” on a public course in the middle of a municipal park in our state’s capitol city. We do not keep score – except to note to ourselves, and to each other, the rare pars that we achieve. Among other good things, Penn State offers us an opportunity to hit the ball off of well-mown grass instead of hardpan, crabgrass and clippings.

As you would expect, lessons are similar from year to year – which is good because clearly our muscle memory is not yet running on automatic pilot.

Some of the same jokes and stories get repeated also. Coach Denise always tells the tale of a man who came to her for individual lessons beginning in his 80’s.

“What do you want to work on this year?” she would ask.

“I just want to be able to shoot 100 when I reach 100.” He would answer.

 He didn’t make it to that age, but he would take the bus from his Senior Living complex to the golf course three times every week and play 9 holes – walking with his pull cart.

Here is a Haiku synopsis of my week:

One ball lost, two found – 
3 pars in 36 holes. 
That’s worth repeating.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Etymology of Lawncare Company Names

An IMHO Haiku

The greener their name
and the color of their trucks
the less that they are.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Weeding According to the Rules

As usual the most outstanding plant in Mars and my garden this year is a volunteer – i.e. a plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by a farmer or gardener (Wikipedia).

It grew within the outer edges of some arborvitae that demarks the southern end of our property so it actually achieved a fairly considerable size before either one of us noticed it – a foot or two in height with large elephantine leaves and stems thick enough to support their weight. My first thought was skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), which appears in the wet areas along the bicycle trail that ends (or begins) across the street from our domicile. The fact that the land from which our weed was erupting was as arid as the sands of the Sahara did not enter my mind.

Anyway, it looked not totally terrible so following my first basic rule of weeding –“If you don’t know what its is or what its going to look like, let it grow. You might like it.” – I did just that.

It quickly trebled in height and I began to hope, unwarrantedly, for rhubarb. This was actually even more unlikely than my first misguided guess since the closest possible source was sitting in the produce section of our local Whole Foods, several miles across the Connecticut River from our house. Nonetheless, dreams of strawberry-rhubarb pie overruled what little commons sense I was applying to the situation so I envoked rule number two of weeding – “As long as there is the faintest hope that it’s something you might want, keep it.”

Within a month it had morphed into an eight-foot-tall clone of Audrey Jr., the human-sized, human-eating plant from the movie “Little Shop of Horrors”. Rule 3 – “If you are afraid to touch the plant, don’t.”

And now our volunteer has flowered – so to speak. It is a thistle. (The common name of a group of flowering plants characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins, mostly in the family Asteraceae. Prickles often occur all over the plant – on surfaces such as those of the stem and flat parts of leaves. These are an adaptation that protects the plant against herbivorous animals, discouraging them from feeding on the plant. (Wikipedia))   I am at least partially herbivorous and it is keeping me away.

The fourth (and most important) rule of weeding: “Never wage war with a weed whose weaponry is more whetted than your own.”

I am certain that next year our skyscraper thistle hedges will be the horticultural hit of the neighborhood.