Silver Linings: Coyotes, Maggots, Chrysanthemum Weeds–Day 52

Yesterday I found maggots devouring my cranberry bean seedlings. They weren’t thriving so I peeked beneath the dirt. The beautiful red bean was covered in squirming white thready maggots. I had planted about twenty, all of them perforated and infested. It took hours to correct the problem. I had to dig out each bean and put it in a doubled plastic garbage bag and then excavate around the plantings to be sure I caught as many strays as possible and then carefully dispose of the contaminated dirt. (I learned all of this from the internet. Google is my brain.) The other plants had to be checked, all the onions, the kale, spinach, lettuce, other beans. The remaining dirt in the cranberry bean patch had to be treated with an organic potion to kill any maggots I may have missed. I spent the rest of the day taking my frustration out on the chrysanthemum weeds with their nasty, sprawling roots which lurk beneath the garden, an intricate subterranean system. Their Latin name is Artemisia Vulgaris, also known as mugwort which actually has some herbal healing powers. In the wet spring dirt, well armed with a Japanese sickle (oh my word, this is my favorite gardening tool), it is easy to get them if you’re deliberate and patient. Pulling out the rhizomes, long and slithering and hairy with new tentacles, is extremely gratifying. I went to bed exhausted, but was woken around midnight by an almost full moon and heart-stopping howling of coy wolves, what seemed to be an enormous and very loud pack of the wolf/coyote hybrid that has been populating NJ recently. Our very excited and vocal dogs, kept them at a distance. Unable to sleep, I googled mugwort roots to learn that even a small piece of rhizome will regrow and, like the maggots, you’ve got to put them in garbage bags and get rid of them which is, alas, not what I had done. Even so …

I’ve been inspired to write these Silver Linings by Jenny McPhee a long time ago, back in March when I left the city. She does it daily on her blog and uncovers the best artifacts from now. Recently, she posted what is my favorite of all her posts, a short story she wrote, haunting, mesmerizingly beautiful, published in The New York Review of Books Daily.

‘The Colosseum: View from the Farnese Gardens’, Rome, 1826. (Photo by Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images)

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