My conversation of late has been limited to writing, gardening, and what’s for dinner. For that reason, I’ve done my best to stay in the forest and avoid making people roll their eyes at yet another discussion of Murdered Justice, what heroine Maggie Lyon is going to do next, how the garden is growing, and what is trying to eat everything in it.
To catch you up, I’ve received a lot of nice feedback on Murdered Justice, and I’ve been typing away on the sequel and neglecting One More Thing to Read in the process. I hope to have Pennington’s Hoax (the proposed title) in the publisher’s hands by Labor Day, and though I’m prejudiced, I like where the inquisitive Maggie Lyon is headed next. If all goes well, there will be a third book in the series, and after I finish my latest round of research, I hope to have an outline for it by November so that I can escape the winter weather and dive once again into Maggie’s dangerous world.
As with most things I do, life’s lesson is patience and timing, and the garden teaches me daily that regardless of my intentions, the natural order will win every time. I may plan for the book’s characters to go in one direction, but as their personalities are revealed, I realize they will do as they wish without considering my feelings just as Nature takes place without any concern for my efforts in prodding it along.
I’ve been reporting my disappointments and small triumphs to gardening friends for months, and after long stretches of complaining, most of the garden started showing promise in July. The hibiscus seeds that Carolyn sent finally sprouted and started to grow. I can’t wait for the blooms even if I have to wait until next summer! The cuttings from Anne took root, the wild seeds I sprinkled late last summer made two nice patches of foxglove, which will bloom next year, and the forsythia have doubled in size. It seems that next year is the time for results.
We’re not the only ones enjoying the garden this summer. A nomadic young doe comes through once a week with her fawn, and a few of the rabbit families continue to multiply while others in their colony go missing. The scene is similar to a live-action Disney film if you aren’t worried about having your hard work trampled and eaten. There are a few improvised wire enclosures to keep hungry animals off the new plants, and the rabbits’ dislike for tomatoes and cucumber vines seems to be true. However, the newest little one likes to explore the borders and tear up leaves as it cavorts. Adorable, but be cute somewhere else.
It could be my imagination, but training rabbits to mind the boundaries while they’re young seems to help. The 2016 rabbits stayed out of my way, and grew into fearless adults. I could almost catch one if I wanted, and there have been moments in recent days when I would like to have, but this latest baby has taken respectful notice of my presence. For the first few weeks of its life, it peeked out from time to time, wary of open spaces and the birds of prey that patrol them at all hours. Lately, the little darling has grown braver, occasionally straying into forbidden territory. Those are the moments I storm out of the house, down the hill and wave something large like a jacket that I’m hoping resembles a raptor’s wingspan to something small and low to the ground. I feel a tinge of guilt for making it neurotic until I glance over at the assaulted irises. Doubling as a living scarecrow seems to be working on rabbits, but not on the deer.
These larger mammals have decided I’m some strange being that makes unconvincing animal sounds while gesticulating wildly, as if my presence is for their mealtime entertainment. Loud noises and quick advances no longer get a startled reaction as they did in June. Mama stands her ground, staring at me as her growing infant hides behind her to see what I’ll do next. Her expressionless gaze was fixed on me last week while standing in the fireweed and taking a good-sized munch out of some blooms, as if doing so were none of my business. She’s become like a lethargic cow that’s used to human contact.
I tried waving the jacket. I clapped my hands. I pretended to run at them, but they just watched. Finally, I yelled, “I’m going to eat your baby!” I wouldn’t for a number of reasons, but I’d exhausted all my other threats. Perhaps it was my tone, but the pair scattered like I’d broken up a teenage keg party. I smirked as they fled, congratulating myself on having done an excellent job with natural pest control, but they returned 12 hours later as I was getting into bed. She looked up to see who was making all that noise from up above, knowing I wasn’t about to get dressed and go all the way down the hill to shoo her away. She seemed to be saying, “Oh, it’s you again.”
© 2017 by Patrick Brown
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