Year 2….

The Grand Design....

The Grand Design….

Wed., May 29th, 2013
Year Two. Column Four.


With all the rainfall in the last week, the garden at Groundhog Hill is pretty darn muddy, so there’s not much to do except to stand and to stare at the blank rows and to yell in a public pool lifeguard-type voice, “Is anything germinating under there?”

So like all super amateur gardeners with some time on their hands, I have assumed a dual identity. I like to think of him as Estate Manager, but my father has another name for him: Yard Boy.

Yard Boy mows the grass, weeds the flower beds, and tends to the compost pile. He’s part landscape architect, part day laborer. The position is an unpaid one.

YB is also charged with a chore I usually think of as “Ben work” (as in my much older and less attractive brother Ben): Cleaning the decomposing leaf-pods from the clogged gutters on Dad’s 101-year-old home. (This house was built by my maternal great-grandfather, Owen T. Daugherty, a contractor and former town marshal.)

The Grand Design begins to take shape...

The Grand Design begins to take shape…

Cleaning these gutters involves ascending and descending a rickety ladder of unknown age and hoping the only thing you find in the gutters are leaves and not some type of corpse (bird, snake, mouse, kitten).

Yard Boy also takes care of the recycling and gets stuff fixed like broken lawnmowers, weedeaters and dryers, which he may or may not have been responsible for breaking.

Even though YB has been mowing the same lawn off and on for the last 38 years (or so), he cannot yet be fully trusted to do so without parental supervision.

So, he is watched like a hawk by his 93.5-years-young father who sits comfortably in a cushioned chair on the shaded back porch while YB grits his 49-year-old teeth and bears it.

)(Note: YB at age 16 would have been perpetually rolling his eyes. Now, I think it is kinda sweet in a deranged sorta way).

As you can see, dual identities are complicated. Is it any wonder that Clark Kent bolted from Smallville for the parent-less Metropolis? Clearly, he just wanted to get out of doing all those daily farm chores and to escape those ever-so-helpful tips for how he could do things better.

Let’s hope the sun starts to shine over the long weekend and Yard Boy can hang up his clippers and return to Groundhog Hill where is master of Johnson Grass, Cape Milkweed and Wild Garlic.

More later from Groundhog Hill.

Wed., June 19th, 2013


The Road to Groundhog Hill is a long and winding one….and very, very beautiful.

Fields of winter wheat have changed from a pastoral green to light brown and are ready to be cut.


I have to resist the urge to run through them singing America the Beautiful because the line about amber waves of grain truly resonates with me. I finally get it!

Also, my general fear of snakes and ticks helps keep me out of those fields. Surely, someone at some point has done that, though: Running and Singing with Abandon. If not, we should gather and do it: Sing and Celebrate.

Week Seven finds the garden at Groundhog Hill finally sporting some color other than green (as in grass and weeds).

Orange is the new kid in town as the marigolds are just starting to bloom, and just in time as the green beans are starting to bloom, as well. I am hopeful those marigolds will do their organic job and keep the bugs away.

The Colorado Potato Beetles seem to have eaten their fill and moved on to someone else’s potatoes….Perhaps, yours? If so, I offer only sympathy.

Something has taken a thousand micro-bites out of my red cabbage, too. I am pretty sure it’s bugs, so perhaps those beetles had a hankering for more than just potato.

However, it could have been a little kid with a hole punch because those leaves appear as though someone has taken a hole punch and had a field day (pardon the pun).

Guess I’ll have to put up a sign instructing visitors to please leave their collating devices in their respective vehicles (along with their darn kids).

Enough bad news, though. Back to the marigolds…they’re small, but beautiful. Soon their zinnia brethren will join them in a blooming overture announcing that summer, my favorite season, has arrived.

I am expecting some big explosions of color in the next couple of weeks, so be forewarned that GH is gonna get awful noisy.

More later from Groundhog Hill….

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