Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day Poem: Emily Dickinson

Here's a poem for Earth Day, "'Nature' Is What We See," by the incomparable Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).

For information on Earth Day itself, you can go to the EarthDayNetwork, which has pages of information, portals and links to participating organizations and sites focused on environmental awareness, conservation of our planet and natural environment, and reversing the current worsening global warming trends.

I spent most of the day in the garden, after waiting through weeks of cold and rain, as well as being able to get back from Chicago. I planted a few flowering shrubs (creeping phlox, with periwinkle-type flowers), lots of herbs (lemon balm, two or three different types of sage, more rosemary, arugula, English thyme, African purple basil), a few vegetables (red cabbage, spinach, brussel sprouts), a blueberry bush (alongside the rapidly spread blackberry plants), and a fig tree. I can still feel the workout. The cold appears to have killed off some of the plants, like the Spanish lavender, but the other lavender plant has returned, and the regular and alpine strawberries are already leafy and sending out shoots. The other plants--the azaleas, the roses, the honeysuckles, the hyacinths (which are now blooming), and the lilac bush, are also thriving. Please let the weather stay sunny and mild for a while!

At the very back of the yard, we have a saucer magnolia tree, which I originally thought was a tulip tree, except that when I looked that tree up, the flowers and fruit were different. (There's a twin saucer magnolia in our neighbor's yard, and shoots have started to rise from the base of the main trunk.) The saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) has beautiful, highly distinctive leaves, which flower in spring and leave a thick carpet of petals after a few weeks. The first photo below shows the flowers, which the wind was steadily shaking from the tree, leaving a bit of a mess, so I won't post any pictures of the new plantings just yet. Instead, the second photo shows both trees in flower (and the new plantings along the fence).

The flowers

The saucer magnolias themselves (alongside the compost heap; the raked petals have already filled lots of bags)


"Nature" is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse—the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

Poem by Emily Dickinson

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