Oh what a difference a few hours, or a day, or a month makes. Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Here are the chamomile flowers, early in the day

And then, as the sun comes up, they elevate their petals 

and lift their game

Other changes take a little longer. Look at these poppies slowly, over days, lifting their heavy heads. 

You wonder how those slender necks can ever do it 

But they do. And then they open. They do it every year, and they come up all over the yard, back and front. Although they have changed color over the years, their purple hue grown more dusky. They grow from seeds, blown hither and thither, are not perennials, although they appear so.

Just as predictable as the return of the poppies is the return of my chronic cancer. A telehealth visit today with my CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) oncologist, Thomas Kipps. It wasn’t a surprise, I knew it already from the way my lab results have been trending, and fatigue creeping into each day. It wasn’t a surprise, but still it was a shock: time to start treatment again. It was a shock in that I was unprepared for how depressed this would make me feel. I think it’s the sense of being confined to the category of “sick person” again, and by this I don’t just mean “being sick” but rather, all the time and management that goes into being a patient: spending hours on the phone, endlessly making appointments, waiting for calls, investigating insurance, making sure that my different specialists confer and that treatments and drugs don’t clash. Scans and labs ahead, but worst of all, as I really dread it, is a bone marrow biopsy.

The Covid nightmare had fairly successfully brushed the phantom of cancer under the carpet. In the context of the pandemic my own little dis-ease is trivial. So many people affected in all sorts of devastating ways. But today they seem compounded, my own miseries and the misery of the planet. 

Analogies between human and plant bodies, or between the human body and a garden can only take you so far. But those analogies can, nevertheless, take you somewhere, somewhere better than a deep dark hole. Particularly when you harness the imagination. I sometimes imagine that my chronic cancer is a bit like a perennial plant. It comes and goes but never really disappears, sometimes it seems to have disappeared because it stays away for longer than usual, but then it pops back stronger than ever. Or, like the annual poppies, it turns up in a different place, slightly mutated. 

To cheer ourselves up we plucked and ate 

the first tomato

for lunch. The insects had wormed into part of it since it grew so low on the ground, but we had more than half and although it wasn’t zinging with full flavor, since the days have not been hot enough, it still tasted of summer.

I planted two seeds of the Row 7 Centercut squash (tromboncini), less than a week ago. 

Here they are, bursting through the soil, tiny but strong

When they are established I’ll snip one of them at soil level. Pulling could disturb the fragile roots of the one destined to remain. And in any case I usually prefer to cut plants at ground level rather than pull, so that the roots can rot in the ground and add to the fertility.

If a few hours can make a difference, or a few days, so too a few months. Fruit takes time. Here are the fejoa (pineapple guava) flowers

The two trees grow outside the kitchen window, on each side of a short path, watered by grey water from the laundry. If you took the Welcome tour you will have walked between them as you transitioned from the side of the house to the back yard. My idea is that when they grow tall enough they will meet overhead, forming an arch that you walk through into a different mini-world. Actually the idea of the arch came from my friend Tershia who has a great eye. The flowers are gorgeous, the fleshy pink petals edible. And when the flowers fall the bulbous part under the flower, the ovary, grows into fruit. 

we have not yet had fruit from these young trees but this year looks as though it will be bountiful

I love every part of this tree: look at the bark and the color of the leaves, deep dark olive on one side, soft grayish green on the other other. In the breeze it shimmies and glows.

We ended the day with comfort: a kimchi ramen (that same kimchi whose making was documented in The Duck and I), swimming in Jeffrey’s great stock and padded out with bits of chicken left over from his Sunday night roast

One thought on “Oh what a difference a few hours, or a day, or a month makes. Tuesday, May 5, 2020

  1. Very sad that your leukemia has raised its ugly head once more. If you need help with the garden please let me know.
    On the other hand, pineapple guava flowers can sure brighten anyone’s day. All camomile, what an enchanting aroma.
    Keep writing, I’m enjoying your blog.

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