The Garden of Diminishing Returns
There were cantaloupes, squash, tomatoes galore,
Green beans, watermelons, green peppers and more,
Growing fast, trying to crawl out of sight,
I swear I could hear the garden growing at night,
But in the mornings when I checked the plants,
The vegetables were half eaten and covered with ants,
No matter what I tried or wherever I turned,
The results were the same—-diminishing returns!
I sat out in my chair with my dog on the lawn,
Hoping to see some critters, I’d wait until dawn,
Ground squirrels were scurrying, rabbits came dancing,
Cicadas were chirping, deer were prancing,
Everywhere I looked there was some kind of motion,
The garden was alive with activity and commotion,
Chomping new flowers and munching new shoots,
The animals were all dressed in their evening suits,
There was a call to order and they all sat down,
The biggest rabbit was worried, I could tell by his frown,
“We’ve got to control the rabbits at school,
There’s been multiplication against the rule,
Not everyone stays seated until a lesson is through,
This is outrageous! What shall we do?
Deer have been entering and then going out,
I’m not sure what’s that all about,
And the squirrels have been going nuts,
So there you have it, no ifs, ands, or buts,
We’ll have to move on and find new grounds,
This garden will be tagged as “out of bounds”,
But if we destroy too much we’ll soon learn,
One small garden yields diminishing returns,”
They thumped out a vote and gave him a hand,
It was clear they agreed with his conservative stand,
The majority was liberal enough to see,
If they harvested carefully enough there’d be,
If each did his share, working part of each day,
There would also be time to sleep and play,
He explained if they wanted, they could help him with stuff,
So they planted, watered, and did more than enough.
He told them that they still had lots to learn,
Because no one wins with diminishing returns.
That old rabbit spoke with authority before he disappeared underground,
I’m glad I stayed alert and wrote it all down.
That garden was a life source to all, including me,
It brought a new way of thinking for us to get along,
And I really like those critters, don’t get me wrong.
But if someone thinks I’m feeding that complete herd,
That’s way out of line, kind of crazy, absurd!
Okay, just a nibble. I grew tons of stuff.
If all of you are careful there’s more than enough!
The sprinklers went off and woke me from a dream,
I can’t quite remember what made me want to scream.
But now I have a peaceful feeling way deep inside,
And when I look at my garden I have a sense of pride.
Every row is trimmed, organized, and neat,
But I could almost swear I see some little feet.
My garden is growing right up to the sky,
And on my doorstep this morning was a strawberry pie.
I always thought gardening would be hard to learn,
I knew there was a problem with diminishing returns.
The Negotiated Settlement (part three)
I leaned on my hoe and thought about all that had transpired this summer and last. I was losing the garden war. My vegetables were disappearing at an increasing rate under the onslaught of the critters, especially by the attacks of the rabbits. In reality I had already given up. They were simply too much for me.
I toyed with the ideas of putting poison in each rabbit and ground squirrel hole, or sitting outside with my shotgun and trying to shoot just one. I finally decided both of those plans had flaws. I could be fined or arrested for shooting a firearm too close to residences, disturbing my neighbors with the noise, or worse, accidently shooting myself in all of the excitement.
As for the poison, it could have been long slow deaths for the rabbits and squirrels, and possibly for dogs or cats which happened upon a weakened rodent and decided it was a snack. I couldn’t take a chance.
I sat down and leaned against a tree as I pondered the ultimate demise of the pesky critters. My eyelids were heavy and I closed them just for a moment. I was so tired and I needed to rest. It seemed that I was floating, but the tree hadn’t moved. I hadn’t moved either but now I could see and hear things I had missed before.
Off in the distance a strange cadence broke the silence. The noise grew louder and I decided that the noisemaker was getting closer. I finally recognized the sound, just as a line of rabbits came thumping and hopping into view. It was a parade.
Each rabbit carried a musical instrument. I counted twenty trombones, twenty trumpets, fifteen snare drums, ten clarinets, and ten saxophones. At first, only the drummers were producing music, but the other musicians soon combined and began playing a Souza march.
Behind the musical marchers were three rows of suited rabbits. Each rabbit had two tall ears and a button nose. They wore crisp pin-striped suits and looked like they were fresh out of Entrepreneur or Playboy. The marching rabbits stopped and marched in place before separating and forming a path to let one of the suited rabbits through.
The rabbit was grizzled and old. He stepped forward and leaned on his polished cane. “Son,” he muttered, “we’re here to negotiate a truce. The vegetables are going to be gone soon if nothing is done. I’m here to help you!”
This was a surprise. Why did the rabbits want to help me? I was the enemy.
Two rabbits handed some papers to the old rabbit. He glanced at the papers before clearing his throat and saying, “We think all could benefit from our proposal.”
I thought t over quickly. “It’s my garden so I’m willing to give the rabbits and squirrels ten percent. No, make it twenty percent.” I was feeling generous and happy my ordeal was over.
The rabbit chuckled and then thumped the ground, howling with laughter. Other rabbits joined in and continued to laugh until he raised his paw and bade them to stop.
“There are so many more of us and we need more just because of our sheer numbers. We think the split should be ninety percent for us and ten percent for you. In addition, we also expect you to maintain the garden in order to earn your ten percent. To be fair, for our part we’ll eat the grass and thin the vegetables, leaving you ten percent.”
“That’s not fair!” I fumed. “That’s robbery!”
The old rabbit frowned at his assistants. All were solemn without any changes of expression, except for an occasional nose twitch. “You have no choice. Take it or leave it. We might decide to take it all!”
He stomped out of the garden, stopping only for a moment while he whispered to his assistants. They hopped about nervously, occasionally frowning at me, before proceeding out the gate.
While I considered his offer, a young rabbit pushed against the garden fence, looking for a place to enter. “This is ridiculous,” I said. “They’ve gotten so fat they can’t even get in.”
What could I do? I had nothing to bargain with. It was either lose everything, or get ten percent, if I worked hard to keep the garden up. Unless I acted quickly I would lose my garden entirely. I decided to agree with terms even though the settlement was not right. This year I was beaten.
I shook myself. I must have been dreaming. An idea began to form and I smiled. “Next year,” I said quietly. “Next year I will win. I will thwart all attacks because I won’t care. I will plant weeds!”
I smiled again at my devilish plan. I’d win by losing. I wouldn’t have a garden but the critters and lawyers would get nothing! It was brilliant!
The Garden of Eaten
After last year’s dismal attempts at growing a garden I should have known better and just bought produce at the local store. It was a conspiracy right from the beginning and I didn’t anticipate the craftiness and tenacity of rabbits and ground squirrels.
I labored in the sun, lovingly and carefully placing the seeds in meticulous rows or circular formations. I did not pay close attention to the eyes that watched hungrily. I was in charge and I would maintain order as the tomatoes and cantaloupes, the beans and watermelons, and the other assorted vegetables grew in regulated patterns. In theory everything would be perfect.
At first the plants themselves did not cooperate. They grew rapidly, sprawling over cages and netting. I adjusted my watering and feeding schedules. Yes, there were timelines and soil and fertilizer mixtures prepared for each type of plant. I worked the garden methodically, expecting everything to grow exactly as I wanted. But one morning I noticed that the cantaloupe vines were lying in new directions.
I scratched my head and studied them. As I pondered, one vine stretched taut and then suddenly went limp. I walked over and examined the end of the vine. It had been sliced cleanly. Something had happened and I had missed it. I focused on a small hill and was rewarded when a pair of ears emerged, followed by a pair of dark eyes. A rabbit stared at me, apparently waiting for my next move. I could have sworn it was smiling as it casually munched on cantaloupe vines. The rabbit was either really brave or it realized I had no chance of catching it. Like a soldier preparing to march off to war, I swung my hoe up and against my shoulder. I muttered angrily, “Mister Rabbit, this means war!”
I strode purposefully towards the rabbit, but it waited until I was close. Then with three short hops it disappeared under the fence. I was fuming because the rabbit had violated my Garden of Eden, my model of perfection.
Once safe on the other side, the rabbit turned and winked. It was deliberate and mean spirited. I knew this rabbit was taunting me. He waved, but not at me. I turned around slowly. Behind me, little rabbits were munching on cantaloupe flowers and new growth. I lifted my hoe and the rabbits scattered in all directions. I was like the legendary Mr. McGregor chasing Peter Rabbit. I gave chase but I was too slow and the little rabbit wriggled under the gate and escaped.
The next few days I fixed the fence, set traps, and even put out repellent. I was determined to keep the rabbits away. Throughout the summer I waged war but it became clear I was on the losing side. With the exception of the tomatoes my garden shrank under the attack of the hungry hordes.
Each night I had nightmares about animated rabbits and ground squirrels. In these dreams rabbits and squirrels sat at a huge banquet table eating their fill while I hurried to grow more to satisfy their needs. Each rabbit and squirrel told others and soon cousins and uncles arrived from distant climes to share this feast. Rabbits appeared everywhere and thrived in spite of me. I finally capitulated and left the rabbits and squirrels alone. My dream convinced me they were the chosen ones.
This year I’m doing things differently but that’s another story.
- Chasing Rabbits… (totellyouthetruthfolks.wordpress.com)
- Rabbit Destruction Council (behance.net)
- Don’t tell the rabbits! (positivewordsmagazine.wordpress.com)
- Rabbit stew (longoio.wordpress.com)
- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall serves up squirrel in Devon (telegraph.co.uk)
- Amazon – The Peter Rabbit Stories Kindle Download $1.00 (forthemommas.com)
Every night he prepared the soil,
Until his work was done,
Planting potatoes by moonlight,
Pole beans in the sun,
When nights were long,
A casual man was he,
Dancing naked down the rows,
Natural as can be,
A lonely woman,
From her window perchance,
Saw his organic style,
It was love at first glance.
- Green Thumb? (whileeveryoneelseissleeping.wordpress.com)
- Why Barefoot is Best (education.com)
- Gardening 2012 (mommyhatescooking.com)
- WMEAC and Nourish Present Dirt! at Wealthy Theatre (thewmeacblog.org)
- Fertilize Your Garden With. . . Hair? (bellasugar.com)
We were arguing while waiting in a long line,
There was a concert we wanted to see,
We were newlyweds and things were wrong,
I blamed you and you blamed me,
I expected home to be the Garden of Eden,
Where I could rule my kingdom every day,
Then I discovered you were a princess,
Used to getting your own way,
Neither of us was ready to give in,
Already our love was wearing thin,
We wondered if our love could be mended,
And if we could still remain friends,
The elderly couple behind us was in love,
We could see it in their eyes,
“Could you give me the secret of love?”
What they shared seemed true and wise,
The man smiled and hugged his wife,
“Penny and I learned long ago,
That a marriage is built day by day,
And there was much we each had to know,
Penny taught me warmth and love,
And that friendship is a must,
When others try to tear you apart,
You still have to continue to trust,”
“Love is just the icing on the cake,”
He continued, “Respect is something you need,
If respect and support are missing,
Your marriage is in trouble indeed,
We like to think love is a living plant,
That thrives when tended well,
When it is given the proper nutrients,
It gets stronger as time will tell,”
And often the beauty brings tears,
All the blooms are not yours alone,
They are to be shared for years and years,
Foolish hearts often give up too quick,
Before the garden has a chance to bloom,
They forget that roses thrive best,
When given lots of light and room,
In the first year when new growth appears,
And you’re considering what seeds to sow,
Talk to God about your spouse,
And what the marriage needs to grow,
Give your rose garden tender loving care,
A rose garden blooms profusely when fed,
But don’t forget the most important part,
Prune any part of you that is dead,
Ask yourself the reasons you fell in love,
Challenge each other to revisit them again,
This is one time to dig up the past,
For this time both can win,
With maturity your world will expand a lot,
So be prepared for both to change,
If either was stagnant and did not grow,
Wouldn’t that have been strange?
Marriage is a rose garden,
You have to twist and bend,
When you keep love in sight,
You fall in love again,
There is one secret to ensure success,
To stay married to your best friend,
Think of the good your spouse does each day,
And you’ll fall in love again,
Seek God out for perfect advice,
For patience when troubles brew,
It would be wise to explore your own heart,
Instead of what your spouse should do,
Daily remind yourself you made a great choice,
And found the perfect person for you,
Then falling in love and over again,
Will be easier and easier to do,”
We entered the doors and found our seats,
The music was powerful and loud,
But as we sat there thinking things over,
We realized it’s hard to think in a crowd,
Our hearts were troubled and we left midway,
We found a place where we could walk,
Then in a diner we shared coffee and a slice of pie,
We opened up and had a heart to heart talk,
It was like a flame from friendship grew,
We were connected by our hearts once more,
And in the early hours I fell in love,
And worried what the future had in store,
My wife also had made her choice,
I would always be her man,
Then we decided that a rose garden,
Would keep us focused on a plan,
In the morning when the sun came up,
While the dew was still on the ground,
We planted a single rose bush,
To remind us of the love we found,
Every year we’ll add yet another,
Then share what our hearts have learned,
The garden will fill with bouquets of rose buds,
The rewards our marriage has earned.
- Rose quote from Dale Carnegie (ordinarygood.wordpress.com)
- The Great 2011 Rose Garden Slaughter– Using Forged Steel to Produce Good Looking Roses (forbesontech.typepad.com)
- I never promised you a rose garden, but you got one anyway (weeklygrist.wordpress.com)
- Time to prune your roses (mysanantonio.com)
- Rose Flowers And Their Various Types (proflowers.com)
- Previous Post (whitecranes.wordpress.com)
My path has varied from time to time,
The mountains chosen were hard to climb,,
There are tasks I wish I’d done,
And things I wish I’d left undone,
But there were flowers along the way,
And strings of lights as bright as day,
Within the poems I wish I’d said,
The secrets of journeys where my path led,
I didn’t go to many faraway lands,
And learn the languages to understand,
But hearts I’ve touched with silver words,
Encouraged the forlorn with things they heard,
There are flowers I’ve planted where I’ve stayed,
And lights that twinkle where I’ve strayed,
I may have wandered far and wide,
Yet I’ve learned to take life in stride,
I’ve tried to help those I saw in need,
Gave them strength, from bondage freed,
I’ve planted flowers along the way,
And fastened lights as bright as day,
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring,
Though a twisted past I wouldn’t change a thing,
If you touch others with your words,
Let it resonate with all you’ve heard.
- Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March 2011 (allandrewsplants.wordpress.com)
- Crafts and Activities for April Showers Bring May Flowers For Primary Grades (brighthub.com)
- The rules about picking wild flowers (guardian.co.uk)
A friend of mine asked me today,
“What should I do if love has its way?
I don’t know how to keep the flames stirred,
Do you know the answer? Tell me the secret word,”
I studied him intently, “You know my advice is free,
And I’ll tell you the truth even if you disagree,
You’re much like the others who sought me out,
Confused by love but your heart is stout,
If you are ready for my answer I will proceed,
He nodded his head and inclined his ear,
Ready for the wisest words he might hear,
“What it is, it is”………………………………………….
He looked at me puzzled, then started to grin,
“You’re trying to confuse me before we begin,”
I shrugged my shoulders and looked him in the eye,
“If you don’t take my answer seriously, I won’t even try,
There are struggles in love as you know well,
If you don’t get it right, it becomes a living hell,
But if you listen carefully to all I have to say,
You’ll find heaven, here on earth, each and every day,”
He motioned for me to share the things I might know,
So I began again, saying the words real slow,
“What it is, it is”……………………
This time he listened without making a sound,
“My example is about a garden and fertile ground,
A man started with good soil, wanting the very best,
The site was prepared, everything passed the test,
He sought opinions as he took extreme care,
He tilled it one more time until soft and fluffy there,
He marked his rows, planted the best of seeds,
Sent water down the rows, enough to meet their needs,
He gave thanks and smiled, now that his work was done,
He was proud, there was good soil, seed, water and sun,
He was ready to relax and take a long trip,”
My friend stirred, “He needs to get a grip,”
“What it is, it is”…………………………………………
He looked at me and silently shook his head,
I didn’t explain, but returned to the story instead,
“The man returned, expecting to harvest his crop,
But there was no moisture left, not even a drop,
The once soft ground was hard, the plants were dry,
Insects had shredded everything, his whole supply,
All that was left was ruined, it didn’t fit his needs,
The ground was covered with hundreds of weeds,
He was upset and he still didn’t understand,
I tried to clarify carefully about gardens and land,
“What it is, it is”………………………………………….
I explained to him and I’ll now tell it to you,
“With gardens and love there are rules few,
Rule number one: Should I let it go?
Let your inner compulsive child speak soft and low,
If something isn’t very important, don’t let it grow,
Love has a chance to bloom for all your life,
If you strive for peace and love instead of strife,
Rule number two: Should I fix it?
Choose to listen without harsh words,
Don’t chatter loudly like angry birds,
One cannot fix a problem without the other,
Compromises are necessary or why even bother?
Rule number three: Should I deal with it?
The first thing to remember is the commitment you made,
When you decided to join, the foundation was laid,
You made a choice to become her lover,
A commitment is a choice made over and over and over,
What some people forget is their garden to tend,
They know where to start but don’t wait for the end,
Within each of us is a garden that will yield much love,
But the garden needs tending with help from above,
Should you be negligent and let it grow wild,
In a short growing season you’ll find nothing worthwhile,
Spending time in your garden is a worthy endeavor,
You have to pay attention if you really mean forever,
You cannot neglect all you have promised to share,
Or her heart will dry up without tender care,
And if there’s too much time you spend away,
It’s possible for her weary heart to stray,
And should you get caught up in evil deeds,
Your love will eventually get choked by weeds,
Love is more than the emotions she holds for you,
It is the patience and kindness that you can do,
With loving care you’ll reap rewards from her heart,
She’ll love you forever from finish to start,
Faithfully protect and cherish to keep love alive,
Do your best for your garden and your love will thrive,”
“What it is, it is”…………………………………………………………..
- Alternatives To Manually Pulling Out Garden Weeds (allhome-improve.com)
- Garden Weeds and the Use of Systematic Weed Killer (allhome-improve.com)
- Planning This Years Vegetable Garden (glenns-garden.com)
One Lonely Rose
One lonely rose greeted me,
I didn’t know why she left our home,
Beneath my window this morn,
It was not logical to be in the world alone,
She tugged her petals closer,
She always forgot to bring her coat and mitts,
While shivering in the storm,
If she needed warmth she wouldn’t admit it,
Her head drooped slightly,
I could tell she was tired and ill,
As she leaned into the rain,
I knew she struggled paying bills,
Against the winds, the mighty winds,
But she had to prove she had the will,
She was determined to remain,
She made it clear I was unneeded still,
Expecting the worst when all had ceased,
Surely after months my love she would lack,
I hesitated before I glanced outside,
Her world must be out of whack!
The delicate rose remained there still,
She did not want me to bring her back,
Bursting with fragrant pride,
Her pride will be her downfall,
I admired her courage as she stood alone,
She had heard freedom’s call,
Smiling as she stood sentinel tall,
She had no intention of giving in, none at all,
Knowing the other roses were gone,
Even to lose love she chose not to bend,
She waited bravely to face the first snowfall.
She would be independent until the end.
(Sometimes in poetry the story is between the lines.)