Set Backs

Despite the dire title, for months I have been meaning to write about my many successes out here in our natural world. Successes in finding and observing the bounty of spring early through late, in finding my way around a somewhat new neck of the woods, and in laying my human hands on what living things I might reach and, for better or worse, mess with. As always, I try and be thoughtful. I hope my manipulations will be for the better. Historically, these have mainly involved insects, and this year they still do. The Cecropia caterpillars I found last summer on a Blackhaw Viburnum have been emerging. I really wanted to write about the challenges and wonders this species has presented, but I will save it for another day. I have some eggs, I am lucky to say, and I am as sure as I can be that they are fertile and kicking.

When it comes to plants, my philosophy is a more hands-off approach. I want our yards to fill themselves with nature that comes naturally. Yet, this year I have a huge yard to myself for the first time. I have been growing some herbs and vegetables, just a few, carefully protected in chickenwire. It has gone well and I have gotten really into it, rapidly becoming somehow like my Grandmas and any stereotypical Grandma and I am quite certain this means my brain is aging and no longer seeks novelty but rather the rewards of simple labors. Ugh, so I am old now, and so much older than I was when this blog was a baby. At 29, I was a baby too. Now it must actually be around the blog-o-versary, but I am not quite prepared to investigate the specifics tonight.

I do have to think back to the origins of everycreepingthing though, and my little beloved baby Avocado. This baby is the source of the title of this current post, it has suffered a setback and it may not recover! Please keep my Chesapeake brewed in beer and youth babe in your thoughts. I have been meaning to put it outside, as someone did when it was in her care for a couple of rather sunless years, and let it grow some more. I also have been thinking I should probably repot. But I have reached an uncertain point with this youthful creature; I do not know anyone besides my Grandmother who kept one this long. She is gone now, so I cannot ask her, and when she was here my then novelty-seeking brain did not pay attention. She was here, of course, when the blog began, and that is one of the many dramatic turns that may or may not have contributed to my aging. Anyway, life changes, we all grow old, and I guess it’s true that until a certain point you don’t quite believe it will actually happen to you too. Whatever other setbacks, unfair twists of fate, or loss you may have experienced, time may indeed rob you of more. I don’t mean that to sound entirely dire. It also means that gratitude for what is is generally more valuable than bitterness for what isn’t. Β The most openly grateful people I know can also be a little bit… smug, perhaps. If you’re reading this I almost certainly do not mean you. But privately, I hope we can all appreciate what we have.

Because today, in addition to continuing a sort of obsessive planting of native species that I would normally advise against in favor of letting nature plant things for you (my frantic planting began as a result of a kind person mowing my lawn and leaving me feeling bereft at the loss of the butterflies who’d been enjoying the foot high daisies and clovers) including Black Eyed Susans and Coral Honeysuckle, a native that the Hummingbirds generally enjoy, I also decided to take on the Avocado work. I transplanted the big baby first, and some heart-wrenching root-ripping occurred. The plant was already really really droopy, like the trunk was just too weak. Do I prune? Was transplanting best? There was not really extensive rooting to the bottom, so I’m not certain this huge heavy new pot was necessary. I left it outside in the shade, since it has had a tough time with too much sun for too long when I have brought it out on other adventures. While I was at it, mixing sand, etc, I decided to transplant the baby’s 1.5 year old younger sibling (an old soul from the start, it never qualified for the B word in my heart). This went well, the root system looked ready for transplant without being rootbound, and that child was proud and tall in its new pot. I thought it would be generous of me to leave it in dappled shade, and then let it grow fast and tall in the sun for the summer. Alas, later I went out to check on the nearly sideways sensitive darling, and I saw that my younger one was knocked over, snipped in half, uneaten but killed, all for the pit that had still been supplying it. Good bye strong proud avocado that asked for little and received less. You deserved better, but I really thought I was helping! I am waiting to see if your root system can grow something.

I took the baby in, of course. I can’t bare more squirrels or worse in this strangely vulnerable urban yard to hurt my tree. Now the poor thing is tied up with a scarf to a shelf in my kitchen, to keep it from practically lying on the ground. The leaves actually look pretty happy, which I think they might not if the roots were really harmed. Channeling my Grandmother’s old Reader’s Digests I wonder, Can This Avocado Be Saved? It’s been through so much with me, I hope so.

I’m not ready for the big yellow taxi to take this babe away. Actual concrete advice welcomed.



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