We moved into our Sebastopol house in February of 2000. We had a front yard that actually had grass in it, decorated by miscellaneous gopher extrusions, so when spring got drier and warmer we got an old push-mower and started doing the lawn thing.
Not for long. When we’d lived in the Stanford area in the sixties, I thought dichondra was the most magical thing ever, and this would be my chance. We tore up half the grass, cussing out the nasty green plastic mesh that was under what had once been turf, and seeded dichondra. The other half was heavily shaded and riddled with tree roots, so we just let it take care of itself and concentrated on our wonderful dichondra-in-waiting. It waited and waited.
Three years later I finally accepted that dichondra was not to be, and the wild demands of our touring made yard maintenance spotty. We barely kept ahead of the big gross weeds and didn’t plant much on purpose. Eventually I noticed that the shady half had lots of patches of moss, and started encouraging that. In a few years we had developed a lush carpet of inch-thick moss that made people itch to take their shoes off. Like the post-draft army, it was all volunteer.
In one of the wetter springs I found that we had great patches of wild violets on the non-moss side, and the dichondra had come back on its own. Ditto the honey-scented alyssum from the prior year’s seeds, and so it went. We have welcomed the guest plants that appear as if by magic, and encouraged them to form neighborhoods. There’s so much variety that the disturbances of gophers and roots don’t stick out like sore thumbs. I can’t say much for the sanity of the previous owner who tried turf in Sebastopol. Gophers rule.
Once I read something about a nice ground-cover, lobelia. I got a little divot at the farmers’ market, planted it, and it didn’t take. But next year, scads of it came up, and it’s been going strong ever since. I’ve become aware that not being too controlling is a good idea and that somehow the plant world has interesting agendas of its own.
Now we’re thinking about one area that gets slammed with sun during the summer and stuff doesn’t do well there. We had an invasion of something weird that looked like half-melted green plastic scales, not at all nice, and Conrad did an intervention that left a lot of bare dirt. We are thinking of getting some colored gravel in that little area, and a few drought-tolerant plants. Meanwhile, somebody moved in. I don’t know who it is, but it’s clearly somebody in the sage family, and it looks handsome.
I welcome all these fellow travelers, and enjoy finding out who they are. It has occurred to me that I might benefit from applying some of that attitude to my own birth-parentage search. I seem to have arrived, from who knows where, and what counts is what’s flowering now.
—From the Fool—
Some people say that human beings are worms. Some say they’re gods. Maybe they’re worms who think they’re gods.
I never thought about that before Thursday night when I had a beer with my sister to celebrate her birthday. She’d been mad at me for some joke I said even though I knew she never likes my jokes. I was trying to cheer her up because she said she was going to kill herself and asked me if I cared.
Sure I do, I said, and then I made a joke, which I won’t repeat in case she googles Damned Fool. “You’re not funny!” she said, which is kind of a negative judgment on a Fool, even though I would never demean her qualifications as a hooker. So we went round and round, and finally after the third or fourth beer we got all slobbery and siblingiferous and wound up crying about our pet dog Benny who barked himself to death when we were five and seven. I was two years older.
I don’t know how we got onto the subject of gods and worms, but that happens with brother and sister. I keep waking up with some blinding insight which I then forget.
Sunday is usually our sabbath. The rule is, do what’s pleasurable or creative or gives energy. Simple enough, and we’ve managed to keep it weekly for twenty years or so—Sunday, Saturday, or Monday, more or less, depending on obligations.
The norm is that we don’t set the alarm, though our brains start beeping pretty much on schedule. We drive down to Hard Core Espresso, the quintessence of western Sonoma County, for coffee and muffin (or for Elizabeth a cinnamon-sprinkled banana—I’ve never been able to control her). Then to the farmers’ market in the square. On alternate weeks we then go to Fiesta Market for sushi and to the ocean with a picnic of sushi, ahi tuna, sake and chocolate. Then I’ll stop in Bodega Bay for a latte while Elizabeth lies back in the car and drowses, then home, and we figure what to do with the rest of the day. On the other weeks, we improvise. We’re not of the 1%, but I can’t conceive what we’d do differently if we were.
My own nature is split between desiring this kind of ritual observance, feeling bereft if it doesn’t manifest, and a deep desire for chaos, for the unknown, for anything-but. When we’re traveling I long to be home; when home, I want to be on the road. Am I perpetually malcontent? No, I’m hyper-content in so many ways. I guess I just want it all, all the opposites, simultaneously.
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© Bishop & Fuller 2016