Wednesday, 31 October 2012

thoughts for the last day of October

One of the memories from my time in high school that I share with my mother is of my Grade 12 English teacher who famously said, "Women always resort to speaking in cliches". This rather contentious statement brought my mother and I closer because of our shared outrage - on two counts. Not only was it denigrating and incorrect as far as the implied incapacity of women to be articulate and in their own words. But we both felt that cliches, proverbs and idioms all had their place enriching spoken language. I guess in this respect "the apple didn't fall far from the tree".

But I'm "putting the cart before the horse".

 Now that it's the last day of October it feels like the long haul of winter is upon us - long days spent indoors with more time for reflection and contemplation.

It occurs to me that certain activities are particularly rich sources for the vernacular; war comes to mind - think "nosedive", "SNAFU"and "blitz"(krieg) from WWII, "brainwashing" from the Korean War and the Gulf War gave us "collateral damage". All these terms have entered the lexicon and are used in non-military contexts, understood by all. Another fertile area, more for proverbs and idioms, is agriculture. Like the military terms, they were rather literal originally, but have been transformed over time to have much more general applications quite separate from their agrarian origins.

At the beginning of each gardening season, as I turn the soil and then plant row after row of seeds, I am reminded of how I'm supposed to "reap what I sow". And my response is "if only". Take the hotboxes for example. After constructing them, filling them with manure, soil and compost, raising the peppers and eggplants from seed and finally transplanting them, it was almost all for nought. The chipmunks have had a population explosion. And they decided they had discovered their own personal "low hanging fruit" in the hotboxes. Virtually all the plants were gnawed off at the surface. I'm not one to "cry over spilt milk". So I wondered if I could reinvent the hotboxes as cold frames - may as well "kill two birds with one stone". A couple of weeks ago I planted them with dozens of lettuce seedlings and covered the tops with old windows. Last weekend I saw that the chipmunks had dug new burrows in front of the hotboxes and then tunnelled up right through them to the surface and eaten all the lettuces. It was definitely time to wage war!  But I know that's a little like "shutting the barn door after the horses are out".

Since no pesticides, insecticides or herbicides are used in the garden it may seem a little inconsistent to some that I want to reduce my surplus chipmunk population.  I suspect these same people may have no problem with getting rid of slugs and earwigs or even setting mouse traps. While it may have been more prudent to keep my lethal intentions to myself "I may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb".

The hotboxes were not a success but this season did have some triumphs - it was a great year for tomatoes and beans. Greens were difficult all spring and summer but finally did well this fall. I've gardened long enough to know every year is different and "you can never count your chickens before they hatch".

The CSA is not my only source of income -  I could "never put all my eggs in one basket".

When I'm wearing my other hat as a private music teacher, my students will occasionally play something at an unbearably slow tempo. I often tell them it is "as slow as molasses in January".  Never having heard the expression they both get the point and, rather than taking offence, are often amused. I guess "you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar".

As I look out the window and see all the rain and remember the halcyon days of summer, I forget the heat and drought, the aches and pains, the disappointments and frustrations. I guess "faraway pastures are always greener".

I'm thinking that all this rain has given me a bit of cabin fever and made me a little silly. I'm wondering if other people may feel the same. I guess I'm hoping that "what's good for the goose is good for the gander".

Oh well, all is just "grist for the mill"...

Trick or Treat ! (Not sure it's either - but as my mother says, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained".)

Happy Hallowe'en!

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