Paradise and Hades

Day 20: I have not blogged in seven days, the length of Christian biblical time God took to both create heaven and earth, and rest for a day. I have not rested much. The clutches of Hell have interfered heavily with my atheist psyche. Beloveds with sad health tribulations. A fifteen year next door neighbour shockingly missing from wife, daughter and family, literally disappearing with no hint, warning or clues. It has always been true, that fact can be less credible and certainly more dramatic than fiction. Styx Crossing is appropriately named for that miserable but crucial repeating theme of my life.

Under the literal earth lies an army of gods, microscopic though they mostly are, whose purpose for us and the planet alike is to transform utter darkness to blinding life; to travel the volatile distance between under and over and back again. Microbes hold the power to make or break life, and therefore paradise or hell.

I have made a stab this week coming to grips with my thorough ignorance on the subject of the underworld of organic and inorganic soil and plant chemistry. It is complicated. And in realizing how complicated it is, I have recalled with marvel that my father studied chemistry at university, even as he was Senior Editor of the University of Manitoba student newspaper, voraciously reading literary fiction through his science degree. A Renaissance Man all his life, H. Fred Dale typically had a window and balcony of humidified exotic plants to care for, an open reference volume to intimidate all but the most intrepid, three or more dense volumes of literature in his active pursuit, several newspaper subscriptions he made thorough use of, the New Yorker sitting dog-eared on the table along with at least four other periodicals, and often as not, something rather dignified or humorous on in the background on television. And through this, he could never resist a terrible pun, or being completely obtuse about human relations. Only looking back, I say he was a dear and fatherly impersonation of a microbe.

When he died, it was my job alone to sort out the cacophony of confusions he’d left behind. My sister took off for Germany. My mother retreated to recriminations and enormously diversionary seemingly life-or-death dramas. My husband found a twenty-eight year old to go to the virgin islands with, and went to war with me, sending open postcards back to my children gloating, and sending lawyers’ threats to me of eviction from our home by his deadline. Understanding huge unlabelled bags of mystery bug and plant poisons or fertilizers was not high on my list. So along with his enormous collection of LPs and home made wine apparatus, tall stacks of Malak Karsh garden photos, I dumped the lot. I am still trying to uncover from memory what I pitched. Does this have something to do with gardening? Yes.

This property on a molecular level is at one with both pleasure and deadly pain. The layers of meaning to every act I perform to renew this property, cannot help but be metaphor for more. It is no accident that for years I prolifically wrote poetry; the boundaries between literal and figurative, the massive and minute, are nearly invisible for me and always will be so. So?

I spent the week underground. Mychorrhizae products sourced to assist my bare rose roots in their dark planting hollows; blackest Tri-Kelp soluble powder and Root Boost newly sourced and picked up from Agriculture Solutions just west of Kitchener; binging, on the dry but excellent YouTube macro and micro-nutrient instructional including the best usefulness and timing for organic vs. non-organic fertilizers, courtesy of The Rusted Garden. So where are the beautiful visuals? Underground. Waiting to cross over.

The dark lure of fishy smelling seaweed.

Seaweed Kitty


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