Dahlia prep


Indira ganesan, Dahlias from the Market, 2013
Indira ganesan, Dahlias from the Market, 2013

I went to the local Dahlia Society sale to pick up some tubers for planting. I have only previously planted potted dahlias, the most successful of which was a mystery brown dahlia I got in a hardware store in Boulder that I planted in a large urn.  I filled half the urn with paper, I think, and the rest
with soil.  That summer, the small dahlias kept coming.

Today was lightly then more heavily drizzling, and cold. Planting time is mid to late May, though some afficianados are putting the tubers in the ground next weekend. I might too, if I can ready the ground in time. One thing I must remember is not to water after I plant.

I have seven varieties, selected for color and their name. Bashful. Sweet Dreams. Hamari Accord. And I have a large tuber I overwintered in the studio in packing paper. It grew very well last year, a yellow and pink combination, I think. I was more organized my first year in this garden. Last summer, kittens took precedence over plants.

One kitten, now nine months old, plays with its reflection while her mother sleeps somewhere in the house. I am trying to teach the kitten not to run outside. I don’t blame her. Spring and the garden beckons.

I will report on the dahlias in the coming months. Teaching is nearly over for the semester, and I can get back to the new novel. I will report on that as well.

Giant, Legend, Bard.

 ID 13546676 © Jinfeng Zhang | Dreamstime.com
ID 13546676 © Jinfeng Zhang | Dreamstime.com

Gabriel Garcia Marquez died Thursday, April 17, at age 87, six days shy of Shakespeare’s birth/death day.  A giant. A legend. A bard.  All of this is true and more.  He is to many of us the person who made it possible to believe in the importance of the saga, the stories of our ancestors, the day-to-day occurrences of the village, when an expedition can be undertaken to transport ice back to a tropical town, where a magician come in and make the real seem like illusion.  Garcia Marquez showed us angels who were ordinary old men, only they had molting cumbersome wings–as the story went, either they were angels or Norwegian sailors.   In another tale,  a man washes up on shore and changes the destiny of the land so it becomes named as the place where Esteban died.  In another, a man is killed, and his blood washes in a winding river all through town to the feet of his mother.  I encountered One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1981 or 82, in Modern Literature taught by Beverly Coyle.  It was the same year we read Ulysses and Lolita, a year of reading literary giants and geniuses.  I could not view the world the way I do without having read these writers.  I could not realize what the novel is capable of being. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a practiced magician,  gave us a world in which he numbered fictional butterflies, so that we believed his stories all the more.

Yellow gibbous waxing moon and more


Hanging Nasturiums at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Hanging nasturtiums at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The moon rose waxy yellow in the sky. I wiped down the car windows, got in , turned on the defoggers, the lights, the music, and the windshield wipers for good measure. Good thing for a coyote soon crossed the road on the opposite lane, then ran up the yellow dividing line on the highway, before crossing my lane. I braked,waiting for it to lope back to the woods.

The morning was still pitch black, but it was the first warm day in a long while. It would hit 72 in the city,but not for hours yet. Now, a frightened doe hopped across the highway. I just made the bus, and bus made it to the city early, where I worked for several hours before heading out to the Fenway.

April 14  is Isabella Stewart Gardener‘s birthday, and the nasturtiums are up at the Gardner Museum.  Anytime of the year, if your name is Isabella, you can attend the Gardner for free.

The flowers are carefully tended over the winter, and their voluminous lengths are carried like Vassar’s graduation Daisy Chain to hang from the balconies of the museum. They are only around for a few precious weeks , and last year, there had been some horticultural problem. Now, they blaze bright, plumes of orange and yellow and green, rich as Rapunzel’s hair, were it made entirely of flowers.

If you are in the area, run to the Gardner, but not on Tuesdays, when they close.

There’s also cake in the cafe, made with nasturtiums and strawberries.



There is a need for ceremony. Today I saw new writers inducted into the world via the PEN New England Literary Awards with a rare sense of homage to the written words. I wish all of our parents had been there, to see how a world might receive a writer’s words, an act of defiance against the dark. All of us mad scribblers, we chafe against one another, hustling, jostling for place, while others remove themselves from the fray. Envy always bites just a little when someone else wins a prize; we could all be contenders. Today, though, I saw a brave young woman from Zimbabwe walk up to the podium to receive her prize and read to us, proving beyond a doubt, for at least a moment, that words are right in the world. I felt proud, and thought, this how we should be received, us foolish people who try to form words and tell a story, and somehow sometimes, amaze with the result. That one win means we all win.