Thursday, October 30, 2014

Archaeology by Nonhumans

This fringe of roots is still attached to a tree that blew over in a hurricane about two years ago. The tree is still alive and growing aslant, with its limbs resting comfortably in the limbs of another tree some distance away. When the root mat flipped up, I naturally could not wait to look under it. There I found a rectangular stone box with fitted lid that I think may have been a water feature back in the Sheep Days (the earth is full of springs around here). I thought this was a sufficiently thrilling discovery to do for one downed tree, but this summer, as you can see on the left of the photo above, some helpful groundhog (Marmota utilis digibus) in the course of her labors, started tossing up terra cotta pipe fragments from the burrow she sited under the root mat overhang. You must admit, this is a very convenient spot to live, as it includes this huge covered porch. So I think the pipe shards are definitely associated with drainage, but I don't know if the groundhog hit a refuse dump full of broken piping (middens are another thing we have a lot of here), or if she is burrowing right through the old drain system itself, long since crushed by the weight of the world. In any event, water and marmots and the passage of time, and the passage of water and marmots through time, seem to be the theme of the day.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Severed Limbs

Just in time for Halloween, Great Aunt Matilda has been reduced to a pile of severed limbs. She was the enormous and fabulously old Christmas cactus I inherited when my friend Rodrica moved away, and she did alright for a while, until the summer that my daughter was in the hospital and I spent a lot of time driving back and forth. Whenever I got home, I watered the plants, on the theory that I didn’t want my plants to die and who knew when I might be back again? Consequently Great Aunt Matilda began a downward spiral that I just this morning realized was caused by root rot. However, unlike GAM, I am not ready to lie down and die. I saw where Lestat the vampire is back again, and if he can do it, so can we. 

I partsed out Great Aunt Matilda, threw out her truly disgusting crown and nasty soil, and am presently aging off her cuttings in the nice warm kitchen, whence they will be re-planted into a scrupulously moist-but-never-wet, highly porous soil and given literally THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE. Which in our case means against the back wall of the south-facing, upstairs media room, a place suffused with bright indirect light. If she likes violent video games, moody French cinema and TV crime dramas of questionable intelligence, all the better. She will be borne forth in her clay litter to summer in the tubercular ward, if she lives that long. She will be treated to kelp cocktails. She will be fawned over tirelessly. This is an explicit bribe. 

I only hope it works.