Possumhaw: New every morning


Shannon Bardwell



"Do you think I could buy a ticket on the bus and get on carrying a bucket and spade and wearing hip boots and patting a snake-bite remedy in my pocket, and get off in the middle of the swamps; and get back on the night bus hung with lilies and irises and orchids and snakes and with water hyacinths in my hair, and not attract unfavorable attention?" 


-- Eudora Welty, "One Writer's Garden" 




Spring comes every year, and yet it's new every morning. Sam left before dawn, headed to the fishing hole. With fishing it's important to be first to the hole. I roused slightly, saying our goodbyes, then dozed off again until I heard the birds singing. It was a tough decision -- linger longer or enjoy the early morning while the sun was still low and gentle. The morning won. 


While coffee dripped I stood at the window. A bright red cardinal was feeding on the royal blue feeder. It's the favorite of cardinals as it has a little more standing room. The smaller birds feast at the gunmetal gray feeder and don't mind sharing with other small birds. They feast at the table like women at a tea party or men at their morning coffee meeting. Surely the birds are chatting. Why else would a single bird have so many different calls as to make it so difficult for a birdwatcher to learn them all? I believe they are discussing food sources, where they are safely nesting, and how many are in their brood. As we say at the Bardwell home, "What else could it be?" 


Separating the three hummingbird feeders worked out well. There is still a bit of swooping and swirling around the porch, but one may feed while out of the vision of another. Sometimes my natural instinct is to cover my eyes. The birds are so lightning fast and those beaks are so long and sharp, and they come so close to my head I wonder if I should be wearing protective eyewear.  


My attention turned to my then-ready coffee and I moved to the sunroom. From there I could see the raised flower beds where I planted wildflowers two falls ago. With all the rains they seem to be doing well. There are leafy greens and a few buds, but otherwise one might consider them weeds. I tell Sam, "I know they look like weeds, but they will be pretty wildflowers." It is a little sad we arbitrarily decide what we should buy at the garden center and what we should "Roundup."  


Sam's been asking about a group of plants having emerged where we used to have a bunny run. It's in the area I've asked him not to cut yet so I can feed the bunnies dandelions, clover and other greens. These plants look like a cross between a thistle and a leafy red tip lettuce. I'm thinking about moving them to the flower bed we call "the one where nothing grows." It's also the one where if anything starts to grow, like my daisies and iris, the deer nip their heads off. This little thistle-like plant might be just the ticket.  



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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