Thursday, July 26, 2007

Small harvests

You've had more than your fair share,
I'd say, if I had an inkling what fair might be in this world.

You've left daily clues —
Strawberry blossoms and green fruit
Inexplicably vanished overnight, summer squash nibbled
At the tender tips, apple cores abandoned on the fencepost —

But it wasn't until the day I saw
You deftly removing a prickly zucchini leaf
From its stem, holding it like an umbrella
Before it toppled, that I believed.

You have left us a single strawberry.
I've yet to harvest an intact zucchini.
Tomatoes you don't seem to care for and
So they line my kitchen windowsill,
Glowing globes of orange, red and yellow
Sunlight brought indoors. And the basil,
Heaven-scented, remains untouched.

What must I do? I ask the air above the garden. Visions appear
Of nets encasing the whole plot, wiry cages against
Your small probing claws and teeth, scent of frightening
Predators deposited in strategic locations —
But even the dog, whose agility, speed, and sharp
Teeth have killed your cousins,
Hasn't kept you away this summer.

My, you are bold and quick. Are you really so hungry?
Or are these green and red temptations you steal each day
Merely easy snacking?

I won't go borrowing tiger scat from the zoo.
But I warn you, Shadowtail:
I know who you are.


Blogger Fred Garber said...

Great! This brings back so many memories of my gardening days. You described everything so beautifully.

7/26/2007 8:18 AM  
Blogger zhoen said...

Welcome back, and with your humors intact.

7/26/2007 8:53 AM  
Anonymous marja-leena said...

You are a patient gardener, unlike me. Great to have you back with words of wonder and photos of beauty!

7/26/2007 9:03 AM  
Blogger alan said...

Welcome back, my friend. I hope all is better now! You and your gifts were sooooooo missed!

My wife's problems this year have been with a bushy-tail. The grandchildren's plants were consumed, parts of several others. Normally, despite her protests, a scattering of mothballs has driven them off; this one carries them off and drops them around the yard then proceeds with his ravages!

She has given up...

Tiger scat...hmmmmmmm!


7/26/2007 11:54 AM  
Blogger Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

Zoo Doo really works... but you have to transport it yourself...

7/26/2007 12:49 PM  
Blogger Patrick M. Tracy said...


Nice to see you back. I have to admit that I've always been on the side of the squirrels. They say that they're just clever rats with pretty tails, but I'm a sucker for 'em. Gophers, on the other hand...

Another sparkling poem filled with visual and tactile sense. Good to have a new one from you, MB!


7/26/2007 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is great. I'm glad you're sharing poetry again. I'll be back after salting another few barrels.

7/26/2007 8:29 PM  
Blogger firebird said...

Oh, I know the feeling...I had a big squirrel problem--they tore up everything I planted--shredding and spitting it out--
If they were actually eating the tulips and tomatoes, it wouldn't have been so insulting!
I set a have-a-hart trap (a spring-loaded cage baited with peanut butter) for them, and drove them out of the territory, one by one--must have relocated about 50 of them--
nothing else worked!
now, for a groundhog, a sturdy fence starting below ground level might work...

7/26/2007 9:03 PM  
Blogger Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

What causes us the most anguish is the silence: we direct our impassioned pleas to the Squirrel and no response comes; we are left on our own in a condition of existential dread. Bergman made several films about this question back in the 60s.

Welcome back, MB!

7/27/2007 8:13 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

It's so nice to have your voice back in the blogosphere, mb. Yes, the bounty we share with the critters, or rather, that they outright take from us. We never even had a single cherry this year, but watched the crows take every one of them. I must admit there was something quite beautiful when the crows flew off with the cherries still on stems and hanging from their beaks.

If the bunnies or squirrels got into our vegetable garden, we'd declare war.

7/27/2007 8:23 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Richard, besides The Silence and Persona Non Grata, I presume you are referring also to Claws and Whiskers, and Through a Garden Darkly?

7/27/2007 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Sara said...

This is wonderful. Thank you so much.

(I think Shadowtail has cousins here, too.)

7/27/2007 11:45 AM  
Blogger rdl said...

Yes, you're back!!

7/27/2007 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all of which is another very good reason not to enjoy gardening, even though i enjoy your posts :o)

7/29/2007 1:21 AM  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...


Reminds me of my wanting to rework that William Carlos Williams poem about plums, in honor of a grackle who got inside the bird-netting I'd placed around my ripening tomatoes.

Final Score:
Grackles 17 (tomatoes)
Lori 1 (grackle panic inside netting)

(Welcome back!)

7/29/2007 9:13 AM  
Blogger Tall Girl said...

Hi MB. I sympathise, though here it's the weather and slugs preventing courgettes growing to maturity.

7/29/2007 12:31 PM  
Blogger Sky said...


We sit here with cougar doo in a big plastic bag ready to be distributed, our feeble effort to deter the deer who graze here some evenings. They snack on my husband's favorite dahlia and sometimes nibble tender, new leaves of other plants he worked so hard to nourish. Then there is the family of raccoons who now use specific areas of our gardens for a personal potty! We would like it if they found trees in another area where they could leave their many gifts! Now to the squirrels who pick our strawberries, spitting out the bites they take from ruby, ripe ones before racing to find the green ones they crave. We have only gotten 10 strawberries all summer from our many plants, all hanging in fruit. Upon closer inspection it is clear the squirrels found it first! The crows are enjoying our blueberries, but we are, too! I hope we have a few tomatoes that won't be previously tasted by some critter who shares this space with us! So far these animals are not fried green tomato junkies! Guess we will see how they like the red ones in a few weeks. ;-)

7/30/2007 1:09 AM  
Blogger Pat Paulk said...

I gave up fighting them. Fortunately they don't eat my tomatoes. Glad you're back!!!

8/02/2007 7:14 AM  
Blogger TaraDharma said...

really? they don't love basil and tomatoes? Silly squirrels. what a beautiful poem - tells the story so well, a delight to read and experience your garden (and its woes) from so far away.

8/03/2007 12:35 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Thanks, all!

1327, from Anglo-Fr. esquirel, O.Fr. escurel (Fr. écureuil), from V.L. *scuriolus, dim. of *scurius "squirrel," variant of L. sciurus, from Gk. skiouros "a squirrel," lit. "shadow-tailed," from skia "shadow" + oura "tail." Perhaps the original notion is "that which makes a shade with its tail."
(from the Online Etymology Dictionary)

8/03/2007 12:55 PM  

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