The Garden of Diminishing Returns


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.

 

 

 

 

Garden of Eaten


Illustration of Peter Rabbit escaping and leav...
Illustration of Peter Rabbit escaping and leaving his jacket behind, from The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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.

 

 

 

Think Like a Tree


 

Greek Strawberry Tree (Cyprus Strawberry Tree)...
Greek Strawberry Tree (Cyprus Strawberry Tree). Fruits. Photo taken in Laspi bay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Think Like a Tree

 

I wasn’t ready for life’s road stretching out before me,

 

It wasn’t as fun as I expected it to be,

 

I whined, I complained, until I learned,

 

The lessons taught by an old fruit tree,

 

In the middle of an orchard the tree quietly stood,

 

He was the oldest and wisest in that neighborhood,

 

Although ancient and twisted his heart was still good,

 

 

 

I questioned him thoroughly about things he knew,

 

From seedling to adulthood, all the years he grew,

 

“Tell me your secret for being young so long,

 

How did you endure when things went wrong?

 

And how did you manage to stay so strong?”

 

 

 

The tree scratched his head, then smiled at me,

 

“Life will never be easy, as you can plainly see,

 

Adjust and be positive, and think like a tree,

 

There are a few things you ought to know,

 

Trees serve others and they’re not for show,

 

If a branch is barren or doesn’t grow,

 

There’s no reason to keep it, just let it go,

 

A tree needs to compete to be the best around,

 

But if it bears no fruit, cut it down,

 

It’s tragic to waste good fertile ground,”

 

 

 

He hesitated and drew a deep breath,

 

“If a tree produces it’s still not left alone,

 

It’s pruned each year even while grown,

 

It will be healthier and productive, a fact well known,

 

Often a tree tries too hard,

 

When too much is produced a tree must be thinned,

 

The remaining fruit will grow larger,” he said as he grinned,

 

“But if there’s too much fruit the limbs might break,

 

How soon, how much, it’s something a gardener must tweak,

 

A tree doesn’t want to be crowded,

 

It needs space to be free,

 

A tree needs to improve constantly, don’t you agree?”

 

 

 

I was ashamed of my previous actions,

 

Because I had been thinking only about me,

 

The way the old tree explained it I could see,

 

Life is not as harsh as I made it out to be,

 

If I need to be pruned to produce more in life,

 

I’ll adjust and be positive and think like a tree.

 

 

 

Welcome to the Valley


 

English: The eastern Tehachapis: Tehachapi Mou...
English: The eastern Tehachapis: Tehachapi Mountain, Double Mountain, Covington Mountain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the Tehachapi Mountains into the valley I drove at a steady but cautious pace because I was both excited and tired from the long journey.  I was determined to remain positive as I passed brown sun-baked grass and dried up orchards.  Town after town flew by, few of them thriving or prospering, and it shook my confidence.

 

What did I have to look forward to? I remembered the words of my brother.  “There will be no rent .  Just take care of the place.  Everything is in tip-top shape. You won’t need anything.”  Those promises were comforting as I prepared to collapse and relax when I finally stopped in the drive-way of my new home.

 

I had already inspected the house and grounds so when the moving van arrived, workers I had hired were ready to unload. Everything I had was unloaded with care in the hopes nothing was broken there.

 

While furniture was set up in designated locations I mused over discrepancies in what I expected and what was reality.  The house was not in good shape.  The exterior had recently been painted blue and looked nice but the interior needed some repair.  The bathrooms were my biggest concern because minerals in the water had corroded the copper lines and the shower heads were plugged.  The toilets were so rusted out they needed to be replaced.   Throughout the house major cleaning was necessary along with minor repairs.

 

Outside, the yard was enormous and green. Then I saw the fruit trees and stared openmouthed.  “This is a Garden of Eden!” I stated emphatically.  There were peaches, nectarines, pomegranates, persimmons, oranges, grapes, pears, figs, and more.  I thought, “This is where I can begin a new life.”

 

With over three acres of orchard and lawn the house had to have a name.   “Green Acres” was a fitting name because I was from the city learning country life over again.  It would be like the TV series and it would be fun.

 

During the first week I celebrated each time I emptied a box and put its contents away.  The pile of empty boxes grew taller until one day I flattened them out and took them to the recycling center.  I was trying to do my part in the recycling effort.

 

I planted a garden in my spare time.  Hot days, warm nights and water brought rapid growth. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and watermelon were soon thriving.  I eventually got a bumper crop of tomatoes but the rest of the produce? The rabbits and ground squirrels had their way.  But that’s another story or two.

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden of Diminishing Returns


 

chart of peter camejo's diminishing electoral ...
chart of peter camejo’s diminishing electoral returns (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

There were cantaloupes, squash, tomatoes galore,

 

Green beans, watermelons, green peppers and more,

 

Growing fast, trying to crawl out of sight,

 

I thought 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,

 

They were all dressed up 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 our classes at school,

 

There’s been multiplication against the rule,

 

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 there’d be enough for me,

 

I did my share, toiled all my life,

 

Built up my security without any strife,

 

I planted, watered, and tended to more than enough,

 

I thought if they wanted, they could help me with stuff,

 

I explained to them I still have lots to learn,

 

But I don’t like the idea of diminishing returns.

 

 

 

 

 

Too Close to Her Heart


American Beauty (soundtrack)
American Beauty (soundtrack) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One rose stood out from among the rest,

It was clear that I loved her best,

An American Beauty beyond compare,

She was special so I gave her extra care,

Her petals were as smooth as silk,

Her coloring as deep and rich as milk,

I discovered her fragrance, her beauty, and her fame,

Rose was nonplussed when I called her by another name,

I held her close and vowed my love,

She murmured sweet words and glanced above,

She unsheathed her thorns and prepared for me,

Because she thought our love couldn’t be,

She was afraid to love right from the start,

Her thorns pricked me when I got close to her heart.

 

Favorites I Keep


Redbuds
Redbuds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The world opens up to show,

My favorite things,

Which can be enjoyed by paupers,

As well as wealthy kings,

 

They are not so secret,

But within, favorites I keep,

They can be easily aroused,

Whether I’m awake or asleep,

 

During stormy weather or fair,

They always bring a smile,

To my heart when I’m down,

They’ve kept me in awe for awhile,

 

I don’t share them all,

Not all of them are exposed to view,

But others can enjoy,

Some of my favorite things, too,

 

I didn’t enumerate or keep score,

Although in order the list is set,

I wrote them down,

Lest I forget,

 

It reminds me of childhood when,

The smell of fresh gingerbread,

Entices me to the kitchen,

Nothing needs to be said,

 

Spring brings a gentle view,

The first flowers of spring,

Mighty oaks standing tall,

Trees blossoming and greening,

 

Thick green grassy lawns,

Redbuds and dogwood,

Irises with broad beards,

Beautify my neighborhood,

 

Remembering and humming,

A happy song,

One that lingers in my head,

All day long,

 

The silence is broken,

After a swim in the pool,

When excited kids come home,

After a great day at school,

 

I’m reminded I need a nap,

With the purr of a cat,

Lying in the sunshine,

Contented and fat,

 

Water splashing in my kitchen sink,

A precious liquid and often the link,

To a shower after camping,

And a tall cool drink,

 

I watch with intense pleasure,

Water bubbling from fountains,

Sparkling with diamonds,

Cascading from mountains,

 

Burnt umber and scarlets,

The dazzling colors of fall,

Winter’s first blanket of snow,

Flying geese as they call,

 

Quiet things impress me,

Frost when it glistens,

A long soft kiss,

A friend who listens,

 

In the dark or in shadows,

Playing love’s sweet game,

Cuddling in the moonlight,

Whispering a name,

 

In the worlds I keep,

There is much to discover and see,

But my most favorite thing,

Is the love of a woman who truly loves me.

 

 

More Than a Barefoot Farmer


gardener's world 19
gardener's world 19 (Photo credit: Walwyn)

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.

The Mighty Oak and the Quaking Aspen


Quaking Aspens Populus tremuloides, Little Cot...
Image via Wikipedia

Two towering trees, their branches interlaced,

Lovingly caressed as the wind continually paced,

The wind carried their whispers to and fro,

They were rooted while the wind could go,

The two had been together since long ago,

When the young oak noticed the aspen starting to grow,

He being more gnarled and taller, was gruff,

She being slimmer and delicate, was still tough,

Despite wooden hearts, they developed rapport,

And soon their feelings progressed even more,

They were happy their memories were shared,

To each other their hopes and dreams were bared,

He loved the way her leaves fluttered in the breeze,

She loved his strength and the way he could squeeze,

Through the years they saw a progression of change,

With a variety of people, mean, good, and strange,

The Indians came and respected the land,

They honored the trees and let them stand,

They could picture their ancestors peering out,

Hunting the forest and walking about,

Then a newer group arrived one day,

Who cut down and burned away,

Most of the great forests and trees,

Creating farmlands as far as they could see,

Leaving only a few trees in small groves,

And even those were good for stoves,

These two trees, once fresh and young,

Watched helplessly as the axes rung,

 They were left because they were so mismatched,

They were glad since they were so attached,

Now they stood guard at this secluded spot,

Sentinels against the sky, whether cold or hot,

Visitors were usually welcomed with open arms,

The trees had years to develop their charms,

Urging some of their guests to rest and dally,

To observe nature and let their strength rally,

Spend the night out under the stars,

Singing campfire songs and playing guitars,

On their way home those same guests would stop,

Visit awhile and their stories they’d swap,

Those guests wanted to know the history of the trees,

Would there be answers if they said please?

How long had these trees been there?

Had the trees witnessed enough to compare?

There were other visitors though,

Who thought the forest was just so-so,

They were rude and eager to make their mark,

Carving their names into the bark,

Breaking off all the lower limbs,

Just being destructive at a whim,

 Littering the area with all kinds of trash,

Eggs in nests they would always smash,

Ruining in a day what had taken so long to create,

Beauty of any kind they would desecrate,

The trees moaned and groaned in protest,

Wondering how to get rid of these awful pests,

The hostile visitors said it was but the wind,

Ordering the old trees to be silent again,

Havoc and mayhem ruled the day,

As the unruly visitors had their way,

The oak and the aspen were carved and scorched,

And both came close to being torched,

When the group left, the trees breathed in relief,

Hoping they’d never return to give them grief,

That group was gone but more would take their place,

It was usually that way with the human race,

But they trees withstood the onslaught with aplomb,

Always dignified, peaceful, and calm,

The valley eventually became a national preserve,

And both trees volunteered to serve,

For their heartwood was still strong,

Retirement for them was simply wrong,

A few years later a mighty storm struck,

Their roots held desperately, but not their luck,

Both trees crashed heavily to the ground,

People from everywhere, miles around,

Came to see the giants as they lay,

For there was more than two trees on display,

There was something unusual, something strange,

The way the trees had fallen out of range,

Directly into the wind they had spun,

Away from people, no harm was done,

They had crushed no one, no child or mother,

They had fallen instead into the arms of each other,

Around each trunk, seedlings appeared overnight,

Smiling and greeting everyone in sight,

Some seedlings were transported to faraway places,

It is said that people who see them have happy faces,

The oak and the aspen still live in legend and tales,

 Showing kindness, compassion, and a love that prevails,

The new trees will bring magic and couples will discover,

The traits of the giants in the hearts of their lovers.

One Lonely Rose


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.)

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