Monday, May 14, 2012

Grooming the Thyme Lawn and Other Dalliances

 Is there a more gentlewomanly pursuit that plucking pine needles from a thyme lawn? That’s how I spent part of Mother’s Day morning. The thyme lawn that makes a carpet under the birdbath is thick and wooly and the winter wind drives the needles into it, like nails into a board. Raking is destructive: it pulls up the plants, with needles still embedded. All means of mass extraction, in fact, are ineffective. And thus, I lingered out in the soft morning breeze, yesterday, drawing pine needles, one by one, from the matted thyme, drenched in its heady scent.

Later in the day, I found myself snipping chives with scissors and cutting julienne strips of French sorrel, while making French sorrel soup. This, too, struck me as a rather effete activity, especially the part where I was disappointed that we were out of crème fraiche and had to settle for sour cream.

Watering the bees by filling the fountain, cutting gorgeous white roses for a bouquet, pruning the rock roses, snapping photos of flowers, hand watering the gardens, deadheading flowers, plucking dried fronds from the Boston fern and consulting with David on where to plant the wisteria vine, the Clary and Jerusalem sages and the miniature rosebush occupied a bit more of the day. That part came after a leisurely nap during which I slept off the rigors of the morning when, in addition to grooming the thyme lawn, I also groomed my friend Linda’s Persian and Scottish Fold cats, watched while David and my friend Carol sawed a huge, root-bound horseradish plant in two with a bread knife, and read an article on a must-see exhibit of Siamese art, in a seven-year old Veranda magazine.

 In fact, the entire day was made up of activities that, in the long run of things, or with an eye to the Bottom Line, could be considered mostly useless. Which, I suppose, is partly what makes them so ravishingly delicious. I spent an entire day in useless pursuits. Toward evening, I donned a sarong, earrings and lipstick in a bid to achieve a new height: ornamental uselessness. In all, it was a tour de force of dalliance; one, I think, that comes close to being a personal best. 

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