Bye bye, Brussels.

Four “trees” in a row.

I saw the harlequin beetles starting months ago. An abandoned plot there with an overgrown radish. Another ignored plot that way with some once-beautiful brassica. I sprayed them with the hose.

They didn’t bat an eye. Or a wing, either, seeing as I’m not sure if they have eyelids.

They multiplied.

Eventually the left-alone plots were cleared out or cleaned up. Eventually the beetles were repeatedly carried with the best of delayed intentions to the compost box.

Eventually they went looking for fresher, living, brassicas.

Like my kale. I didn’t count the squirts and squishes today as I ended each beetle‘s attempted relocation plan. I did count the bucketfuls of kale lost to them (2.)

I took these Brussels home and we processed them in the front yard. I’m not sure how far they can fly in search of food, or how many stowaways I had left after the clear and present danger of my thumbs, but processing the trees in the front yard at least gave my back yard a chance to avoid transference.

Until next year, Harlequin. Or perhaps you don’t populate where I’ll be in a year’s time and whatever I’ve encountered will make me miss you. As you are, at least, kind enough to be easily spotted.

Abundance.

Poppyseed prevalence.

Gardeners chatting yesterday more than most days. A yellow mask. A blue. A cherry blossom and Robin covered one. Kombucha. Peppers. Birds and onions.

“Now, about sourdough starters…” she said.

“Would you like some?” I offered.

She pointed to her plot, we coordinated a time (ish.) I fed my starter and put hers into a washed old peanut butter jar.

The dew this morning is so thick it reaches to the sky. I hope she finds the jar with the note still dry enough to read.

“It’s just survival”

“Do you want to get away to the garden for a bit?“

It’s a kind question. An offer. The answer is yes (always, always, always yes.) I extract myself from limbs, ceding my space as headrest, blanket, octopus, to him.

I take the dog, who is missing his ‘brother,’ and am ‘caught’ by the dog catcher for not having him on leash before he attempts to elevate his lead butt into the back of the car. I assure her I have the leash and am simply getting him in the car. She is nonplussed. I don’t actually care.

There’s one other gardener when we arrive. Parked where I park. I park by a different gate.

I hear a drill. A hammer. I gather my remembered things, check my mask, and I see him. His plots are across from one of mine, between my two. He’s constructing a gate.

When it’s time to switch plots and we plod by, I comment on the rabbits. “It’s just survival” he says. I nod, agreeing that everything has a stomach. He chortles.

And we’re done. Back to our attempted solitude, shared.

It begins to rain. I haven’t remembered the right tool to cut the Brussels’ trunks. I go about removing sad leaves and harvesting what’s left. The rain increases. Tucked in a ball, low and small, the Brussels sprouts’ canopy shelters me mostly from the angled drops. I continue.

A whine. A soft, slow not-whimper. I look over. My dog is melting. Trying not to, attempted stoicism, but failure.

I pack up, trek my refuse to the compost bin, and load my grateful pooch into the back, with a leash, but with a running start.

Where? When?

I was intent on sowing the next crop between the leeks. Black-eyed peas, specifically, since I’m not allowed any more tomatoes (which I still don’t like… I know…) and don’t have access to any more peppers (which are either too hot for me, but grow well for me, or I love to eat, but can’t seem to get a good crop off of…) and it’s not *quite* sweet potato time. Well, and I’d have to dig up the leeks to sow those.

But I can’t actually see the ground between these lovelies. I can if I squat. I can if I really try. But then I figure I’d disturb the little bean roots (or are they technically peas?) when I do start pulling leeks. So… the first sowing went between the onion rows instead.

I do have to wait for these to fall over, right? Are we talking days still? Or weeks yet?

And curing them is a day in the shade or the sunshine before a week in the garage? I’ll need to recheck.

It’s… Wednesday, right?

Z.

An egg shell, cracked, and clean, below a nest up high. Beside the chair that holds the woman who holds her cat. Eighteen years gone by.

They’ll be here soon, to help him go, beneath the dancing leaves. The day is bright, crisp cool sun, a day I’d choose myself my day.

The blanket dries, freshly clean, dyed indigo in community. In celebration of a life, holding life, raw hope and love.

… I lost the words. I’ll miss you.