Friday, June 7, 2013

When Peonies Attack

My first spring here in the Highlands, I was delighted one beautiful day to notice that there were asparagus shoots coming up alongside the garage.  Asparagus can be, I am told, difficult to grow and I had been discovering the largesse of those who came before me daily with various flowers and plants arriving in all their splendor unbidden (by me, at least).

I watched the asparagus grow for days until one day I noticed a bud on the top and when I inspected closer, realized that this was not asparagus, but shoots of peonies.

I know peonies – my grandma had a plethora of pinies, as she called them.  And from her, my mother had planted some in her yard garden.

Imagine my laughter as I realized my faux pas – who mistakes peonies for asparagus?  Well, apparently I do.

More springs and summers have passed and ever faithful, the peonies return.

A couple of springs ago, I cut a bunch for an arrangement.  In a hurry, I merely shook them off without doing a good spray with the hose.  For my lack of effort, I was rewarded with an infestation of ants the likes of which would put Sherman marching through Georgia to shame.

Turns out ants are pretty good at telling other ants there’s food here!  Come on in!  And come on in they did.  And here’s another thing: they seem to get bigger in a Darwinian way when in a safe haven.  With a little effort, these ants could have carried me away to their nest and had a life-long feast.  Thankfully, their queen decided to spare me.


Flash forward to now.  The ants are gone.  I will not confess to you how that happened.  But they are gone.  And I have just realized that ever since their taking up residence with me, I have not cut any peonies.

This year the whites are more spectacularly beautiful than usual, which is saying something.  To behold them
is to fall into a Georgia O’Keefe painting, it is to become lost in beauty.

And I am again yearning to have some in the house.

Dare I?

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