|Mums the word come Autumn|
Photo by J. Harrington
Down the road is a big box home supply store with, of course, a garden center. The first employee didn't know the answer to my question, put in a call on the store's communication system, didn't get a response and suggested I check with "customer service" in the store. After waiting five minutes or so for the person at the counter to be attended to, I asked about the mums and neonicotinoids. Suddenly, I was looked at as if I'd grown an extra eye in the middle of my forehead. "We buy these from suppliers. I have no idea of the answer. No one's ever asked about this before."
Strike two in my effort to save a buck or two on fall plantings. I don't want to add to the local pesticide loads our pollinators have to deal with. At home I checked on line to see what's available at a local nursery-garden store we often shop at. Checked pdfs of price lists and plant lists etc. NO CHRYSTHANTHEMUMS!? I have no idea why but may ask the next time I'm in their neighborhood.
Still on-line, I tried a large Twin Cities floral-garden company's web site. They have mums. They're also know to be committed to avoiding pollinator poisons in their plants. PROGRESS! The mums they have are 50% to 100% more than the first stop, the local grocery store. If I buy six plants, the total different in price will be about the same as the cost of a tank of gas, but the plants will be somewhat larger, so let's say half a tank of gas. Ever since I got out of high school, I've not let gas expenses affect my travels. For a good night's sleep and a clear conscience, it's cheap at twice the price. I'll be buying our plants at the place know to be sensitive about avoiding neonicotinoids.
My frustration is ameliorated somewhat by hoping that I may have made a very minor impact on some big box employees, who may mention it to management, who may get communications and supply chain changes going. When was the last time you worried about Alar in your apple juice? Our consumer-capitalist system is damned insensitive and believes that everything is a commodity and that we consumers don't care about anything but price. It's up to us to educate them. Do I think you should ask about pesticides, whether or not you intend to buy plants? Absolutely! Washington's football team's name is still a racist slur, isn't it? We consumers need to rise to the challenge of helping create the world we want in each of our four seasons. Interestingly enough, employees at the same places that failed today were more aware of the pesticide concerns last Spring when we were shopping for Spring planting.
I have been taught never to brag but nowI cannot help it: I keepa beautiful garden, all abundance,indiscriminate, pulling itselffrom the stubborn earth: does it offend youto watch me working in it,touching my hands to the greening tips ortearing the yellow stalks back, so wildthe living and the dead bothsnap off in my hands?The neighbor with his stutteringfingers, the neighbor with his brokenlove: each comes up my driveto receive his pitying,accustomed consolations, watches mework in silence awhile, rises in anger,walks back. Does it offend them to watch menot mourning with them but workingfitfully, fruitlessly, workingthe way the bees work, which is to sayby instinct alone, which looks like pleasure?I can stand for hours among the sweetnarcissus, silent as a point of bone.I can wait longer than sadness. I can wait longerthan your grief. It is such a small thingto be proud of, a garden. Todaythere were scrub jays, quail,a woodpecker knocking at the white-and-black shapes of trees, and someone’s lost rabbitscratching under the barberry: is itindiscriminate? Should it shrink back, wither,and expurgate? Should I, too, not be loved?It is only a little time, a little space.Why not watch the grasses take up their colors in a rushlike a stream of kerosene being lit?If I could not have made this garden beautifulI wouldn’t understand your suffering,nor care for each the same, inflamed way.I would have to stay only like the bees,beyond consciousness, beyondself-reproach, fingers dug down hardinto stone, and growing nothing.There is no end to ego,with its museum of disappointments.I want to take my neighbors into the gardenand show them: Here is consolation.Here is your pity. Look how much seed it dropsaround the sparrows as they fight.It lives alongside their misery.It glows each evening with a violent light.
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.