Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Rock of Anger Management

Gardens collect stories.
My morning strolls reveal nightly critter activities, and memories tucked away in corners.
This rock takes me back.

I had spent a golden Indian Summer day planting out my first crop of Tuscan kale...

Once you grow nero di Toscana or Tuscan kale (Brassica oleracea) (also known as lacinato kale, dinosaur kale and palm tree kale) you won't want to bother with other varieties. It is unfair to pit any other kale against this superior Italian variety: it tastes better, is easier to use, and is extremely resilient. The bluish color is mesmerizing. Like all kales, it is extraordinarily nutritious and a rich source of organosulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention. A productive plant for the small garden ,a healthy specimen of Tuscan kale can reach two to three feet tall, sometimes even taller. Individual plants look like they would be right at home in some prehistoric scene with their palm-like forms, especially as you trim off lower leaves.

So I'm smitten and digress, back to the rock story. We worked hard all summer laying out the new winter garden. Hours were spent clearing and grooming the soil, raising beds, installing irrigation systems, and plotting the fence. I had gently nurtured 45 seedlings of my darling kale. Eager to allure my new chef with Italian tastes, this was to be my winter masterpiece. The canvas was stretched, my kale babies filled in like brush strokes. Surveying the tidy finished rows, I ended the day feeling oh so accomplished.

Early the next morning, I discovered that the deer had trampled deep hoof prints into my perfect world and nibbled off the tops of the entire crop! Somehow the fence was up but not secured. I was fuming! Glad to be on his way to work, Craig (my sweetie) winced and coolly kissed a crazed maniac goodbye as she rambled, "I'm not mad at you dear, I'm mad at the #%**deer! "

Righteously upset, adrenalin shooting through my body, I headed outdoors and grabbed my trusty flat fork. Hell hath no fury like this gardener scorned. It was October full moon, the garlic needed to go in that day and the bed had to be turned. The fork hit the ground with a vengeance. Shaking with rage, I plowed in, removing small rocks the not so conscientious hired help had missed last spring. Beyond livid, I burrowed deeper. Clink! The fork hit another rock. I tried to pry it out but it wouldn't budge, Muttering something I wouldn't repeat to children, I turned direction and jumped on the fork with both feet. Digging deeper, I turned direction, dig, turn, dig, turn, deeper, clink, deeper, clink, what the... ?  Half an hour later, sweating with anger and exertion, I got down on my knees and lugged a boulder out of  two foot hole. Lifting and grunting and envisioning a venison barbecue, I tossed that puppy up over my shoulders and down the hill.

The garlic got planted and the next day, in a calmer state of mind, I looked with wonder at that rock. Who threw that thing down there? Normally I don't do heavy lifting. The next few weeks I'd look at that rock and reflect. It needed recognition. It deserved a place of respect, to serve as a reminder of how emotional energy can be managed for good. Finally, I asked one of the hunky construction guys to move it. He huffed and he puffed and he heaved it on to a makeshift pedastle.

It remains a monument surrounded by flowers. "The Rock of Anger Management" sits in a place of honor in the garden, and tells a good story. When I find myself in a foul mood I can go there, sit, and remember the strength that comes from adversity.

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