The Free Online Dictionary defines poisonberry:  “Eurasian herb naturalized in America bearing white flowers and poisonous hairy foliage and bearing black berries that are sometimes poisonous but sometimes edible.”  Solanum nigrum is given as a synonym. It makes me think my sister, speaking of schwartzbeeren, may have been onto something when she said, there are good ones and bad ones.  I thought it was simply a matter of ripeness.  I’m not sure where the hairy foliage comes in.

And ripeness, we’re told, is all.  I’m turning 60 this week, my hairy foliage migrating toward my ears.  What’s that about?  I’m trying to be a man about it, throwing the doors open and having a party.  Come all.

(“Sometimes poisonous and sometimes edible.”  Isn’t that just like life?)

Tomorrow morning I’ll spend grooming the garden.  It could use a drill sergeant but will get a manicurist.  Its teenage rowdiness is charming.  That’s what I maintain.  When I get real, I admit it too is well past teen years.  There’s the question of questionable upbringing.  Is it too late for discipline?  I might ask myself the same.  I may not be disciplined but I am ripe.

The late summer garden.  It’s so easy to make it a metaphor.  The pippins are increasing their girth.  The tree has never looked more robust, thanks, I think, to worm excreta from my worm bin. Surely it’s not a coincidence, but since the last of the semi-feral cats that graced the garden died, a rat (or more) has been paying regular visits to gnaw at the ‘Lodi’ apples, which ripen early. If it ate the whole apple, well, that would be one thing, but the sampling…  If one of cats got the rat, I’d be delighted but here I am, debating what I can, in conscience (or out) do.  I hear it this second scurrying on the roof.  It sounds like a cascade of pebbles.

Trap it and set it free?  Snap trap?  Poison?

A birthday present: after it’s over, I’m going to Esalen for a weekend.  Never been.  The theme of the workshop I’ll attend is, We are shaped by our thoughts.  We become what we think. (Buddha)

Let’s not think of rats and hairy foliage.


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