Monday, July 30, 2012

tour of veggies

Yesterday was the annual Anchorage Garden Club Garden Tour. I went for the first time last year, biking with friends from one garden to the next, half the time in the rain. This year, I joined my friends for part of the tour, driving instead of cycling. I visited every garden in the tour and the one thing that stood out this year was produce. People are growing their own veggies.

I don't recall any vegetables in last year's tour, but this year at least three gardens were growing not just flowers, but food.

This garden is in Oceanview (I spent more time chatting with friends who own the garden and didn't take many pics):

Overlooking the inlet. Though this shows mostly flowers, they grew loads of veggies here!

Another view.
Here are a few from Turnagain:

In the front yard.

South side of house; notice the mirror behind the lattice.

My favorite colors! This is on the back deck.

Peas climbing next to the raspberries.

I think this is the only way to grow tomatoes in Alaska!

Backyard garden entrance on north side of house.
Back in Oceanview:

The homeowner designed this fence and had a landscaping company build it.

Besides the vegetable gardens, I love looking at fences and gates. We're due for new fences in our backyard and will need a new gate or two, also. I remember this one from biking past it last year during the tour. This time we got to check it out and wander the yard.

So, there you have it, the garden tour 2012. This time next year I hope to report on a bike ride of the tour and my own veggies. For the record, Jon and I planted a tiny patch of potatoes this spring and some friends gave us a tomato plant. It's our first foray into gardening in a long time. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, July 9, 2012

yes, poetry

I confess that I hadn't read any Gary Snyder before yesterday. It was his reputation (a Pulitzer) that compelled me to attend his free reading at the UAA campus last night. I'm so glad I did. As he read from a few of his books and some new, unpublished works, I was moved by the way he wrote about life: from the day-to-day activities of keeping his off-the-grid power working to his first climb on Mount St. Helens in 1945 and comparisons he drew from the volcano's eruption in 1980 to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which he learned about the day after that first climb).

He reminded me of how events early in our lives help shape our ideals and our way of seeing the world. It was clear that he has tried to live a life in balance with our planet. As much as that's possible when considering the impacts of air travel and other human activities.

Today, I sat down with one of the books I bought, Danger on Peaks. Prose poems. Un-rhymed verse. Haiku-inspired works. I'm no poetry scholar, so I don't know all the terms for the styles of poetry he writes. But I am enjoying his view of the world, his bringing together of thoughts from different continents, different teachings. He appears to be a man who lives with eyes and mind open; aware of the world around him on all scales, from the spruce beetle to the polar ice fields.

I've had to go to the dictionary a few times - yes, he's giving the gift of new words for my vocabulary -  yet it doesn't make the poems less accessible. In fact, this is the kind of book I would want in my backpack on a camping trip. Pull it out, share a few pages aloud over a campfire, ponder the ideas into the night. Most of all, he reminds me of how I like to write my poetry: sometimes adhering to form; sometimes writing without restriction, following the material.

Something Gary said last night on the question of whether he writes every day (we writers like to study other writers' habits) was this: "It (a poem) has to really insist on it before you let it into the world." So, there it is, permission to take a day off to live, do, ponder and read. I will also remind myself that if I'm writing and the material tells me it should be poetry, to not deny the material its form. Because sometimes poetry is the best way to say something. I think I need to say "yes" to poetry more often.

Friday, July 6, 2012

ever curious

A good writer looks around, sees the world with a sense of wonder and curiosity. Sometimes ask questions nobody bothered to ask. It's why I like to go to other places, so I can see new things, ponder new questions.

My friend, Katey, was curious about swinging bridges in her adopted state of North Carolina. She wrote a book about it, Lost Crossings. And now she's getting some great publicity on NC public television. Congratulations, Katey!

It reminds me that whether I'm here in Alaska, visiting a new place, or my hometown in Wisconsin, to always remain curious. You never know what you'll learn or how it may inspire you.