Paul and Jeff love to show off their garden, and why not? It looks like an advertisement for Miracle-Gro, the one with James Whitmore standing on the lawn spritzing flowers flowers flowers. Petunias, ageratum, salvia, dwarf dahlias, diascia, angelonia, rudbeckia, and alyssum crest in beds separated by immaculately trimmed, weed-free stretches of lawn. Was it Miracle-Gro? I kind of hoped it was, so I could mount my high horse and gallop right past the fact that I have never and will never achieve this kind of eye-popping floral extravaganza. But it wasn’t. The fertility came from top dressing the beds in springtime with well-rotted manure, so Jeff told me. They are using fewer chemical fertilizers.
My follow-up defensive position, not expressed, was: I don’t really want my eyes popped. Maybe if I lived in Vermont, I would change and go whole hog like this in the too-short summer. Maybe I would achieve new levels of focus and discipline on the order of Jeff and Paul’s. Maybe not.
While they walked their dazzled guests through the garden, a rabbit hopped from a flowerbed onto the edge of the lawn and sat, attentive. By the time Walter, the dog, had been alerted, the rabbit had escaped into the undergrowth. Walter wanted to go in pursuit but his masters said, “No, Walter. No garden.”
How to deal with rabbits came up later, around the dinner table.
“I learned to shoot a gun,” Jeff said. “Surprised myself. First I used a shotgun but one day I noticed that the peonies had holes in their leaves. I couldn’t find any bugs, and the holes weren’t in all the peonies, just a few. I asked one of the guys working here what he thought, and he said he found a shotgun shell, and I went, oh-ho. I use a .22 now. I’m not such a great shot. The good thing about rabbits is they sit still even after you shoot. You can fire 7 or 8 times and they don’t move.”
Once as a boy in Kansas I went rabbit hunting with my dad’s .22. I did a lot of soil aeration, and no blood was shed. Those rabbits didn’t hold still. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience, and never had the urge to try again.
Maybe if I lived in Vermont.