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Monday, May 10, 2010

Peonies:Reconstruction:Wall Street

The familiar white van pulled up as I was leaving this morning, disgorging our local carpenters, JeffJ and Patrick, a replacement window, a ladder, and a couple of cups of coffee.

After our floods and a few steamy days of sunshine, the driveway flower bed is bulging with just plain gorgeous: clematis in a dense mat of lavender, roses, iris, dianthus looking like rickrack trim along the front, asters, and little purple balls of scabiosa. But mostly, mostly peonies--white, pink, dark magenta, extravagant.

Patrick's mother is 94 years old, and beyond growing peonies, but we offered to send a bouquet home to her. Patrick asked if I knew Mary Oliver's poetry, and particularly her beautiful poem about peonies.

Here's part of it: "...their red stems holding/ all that dampness and recklessness/gladly and lightly,/ and there it is again -/ beauty the brave, the exemplary,/ blazing open./ Do you love this world?/ Do you cherish your humble and silky life?..."

So here we are, looking at the culture wars from the Sulphur Creek Farm point of view: Pundits agog over a Wall Street awash with exquisitely educated bankers showing themselves to be rapacious, greedy thugs, while our neighbor, a carpenter, a thoughtful and literate man, goes quietly about the tedious business of restoration.

We used to call people like this "cultivated". Our farm, driveway beds and all, is all about cultivation, but I'm not at all sure we spend enough time on poetry. Or peonies. Sure as heck Wall Street don't.

"Peonies" by Mary Oliver. Look it up.

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