Garden Shadows

Monday Morning Musings:

“’I am half sick of shadows,’ said

The Lady of Shalott”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “The Lady of Shalott”


“We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good

We’ll do the best we know,

We’ll build our house and chop our wood

And make our garden grow. . .

And our garden grow.”

From Leonard Bernstein, “Make Our Garden Grow,” Candide



All week the sun plays hide and seek

perhaps preparing for the eclipse

my soul also wanders

in and out of shadows

I think about life

blooming in the late summer plants about me

at a make-your-own-terrarium night,



we each make one,

the open kind—succulents–

though the closed kind would be more interesting to me–

and less so to the cats–

I think,

as we drink wine

and visit with our friends’ daughter who had also showed up


I wonder how long our plants will live,

we, who are good at bringing up children and cats,

are not so adept at raising plants,

though the weeds seem to thrive,

still we put them in the sun

(but where there is sun, there are shadows)

and try to make our garden grow


As the sun plays in the August sky,

we go to the movies

(shadows turn to light and life upon a screen)

the film is about life and death

and making choices

telling the truth

confronting traditions

rejecting what does not work for you

embracing differences

seeing people as people,

not as members of different groups,

it’s kind of a comedy

and a romance

the comedy of life

the tragedies

funny family dinners


and a coma,

existence in a shadow world,

while life goes on about you


Afterwards, we sit upstairs

in an open-air part of a restaurant

flowers planted, blooming in boxes outside the railing

and street performers serenade us from below

it’s noisy,

but, hey, summer in the city

a beautiful evening

we watch buses and tourists below us

and pedicycle drinking groups,

laughing and singing

we eat tater tots and pizza

because it’s that kind of night


and we’re not at war yet,

we walk around

Do these creatures protect the house?


just a bit

because there’s work to be done

and an early day tomorrow

the shadows deepen


FullSizeRender 179

The sun dances through clouds

casting shadows large and small

on the eighth, Barbara Cook and Glen Campbell both die

glorious soprano and beautiful tenor

perhaps they sing duets in some other world

(do gardens grow there?)

the next day is the anniversary of my father’s birth

he would have been ninety-eight this week

and I think of my mother,

who will soon turn ninety-five

the seasons turning, sun and shadows

Auburn Road Vineyard

The sun comes and goes



gone for a woman in Charlottesville

gone for her family

gone for people killed in mosques and churches

gone for women taken as spoils of war

call evil by its name

the darkness of the soul

never brightened by the sun

hidden beneath shadows


I watch the sun rise and set

watch the shadows lengthen

as summer turns to fall

I hold on

seeking light


giving it to the terrarium plants

because they are still holding on, too

despite all odds

we’ve made our gardens grow


I wrote about my father here.

We went to Plant Nite at Auburn Road Vineyards.

We saw The Big Sick, official trailer here. We ate at Revolution House.

You can hear Barbara Cook in “Make Our Garden Grow” the original Broadway cast recording of Candide.











27 thoughts on “Garden Shadows

  1. Beautiful update based upon a theme where I feel as if I am balancing on a tightrope, in a way. Not at war yet. That quote: “half sick of shadows.” But not completely sick of them. That says a lot.

  2. “Call evil by its name”–indeed.
    But also let the sun shine in. How to find the middle way.
    Beautiful, as always.
    And Barbara Cook and Glen Campbell….I haven’t processed those losses yet. I got to see Glen Campbell on one of his last tours. He still remembered the music (as will we). (K)

    • Thank so much, Kerfe. Yes, finding the middle is not always easy.
      I can imagine Glen Cambell’s last concerts were both poignant and amazing. I heard that his ability to play music was one of the last things to go. I was saying to my husband that when we were young, we never really listened to him–but now we can appreciate how talented he was.

      • It’s true he was always just there. Well, everywhere all over the musical world actually. But we didn’t notice it was him in particular. Although I did see him tour with the Beach Boys.

  3. You have gotten so much mileage out of that Tennyson poem, one I know so well from teaching. It takes light to make a shadow, you know. And you shed light while still acknowledging the shadows. Glen Campbell struggled with alcoholism and finally, Alzheimer’s Disease, yet it’s his songs and the mellow tenor that I’ll remember.

    You and Doug are such a good duo! 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Marian.
      I’ve remarked to others that I didn’t listen to Glen Campbell when I was young–it’s only recently that I’ve realized what a great musician he was.

  4. Your lovely and thought provoking Monday musings remind me of how interconnected we all are in what we hold dear, in the pain we feel losing a loved one, the way we seek joy…

    What a fun date night for you and your husband! Cute pics!! Your garden boxes turned out fabulous — lol. I like the tiny wine bottle in one of them and, of course, the dark stone with the sweet message. I must remember to keep the shadows and light in balance. xo

    • Aww–thank you, Rose.
      We’ll see how long we keep those poor succulents alive. I’m not sure where we can keep them once we have to move them indoors.
      I do tend to connect everything. 😉

  5. Merril, you in green blouse, look so right in this gardening class, as does your husband. 💐
    I loved “The Big Sick” film and watched it with my youngest daughter, Felicia. She wasn’t as amused about distraught boyfriend who felt he made a “big” mistake. I think age made me appreciate this film, Ray Romano was “real and warm.” Holly Hunter was “a fierce mama cat” for her daughter, but when ‘the chips were down,’ she came through for her daughter’s friend, too.
    This was a woven story of happenings which still favored the “light” over shadows. At least I saw many beautiful references to rays in our lives: memories of your father, famous, deceased duet singers, friend’s daughter in class, succulents and planting hope, making room for light. hugs xo 🌱🌳

  6. Sounds like your weekend, on a personal level, was more light than shadows. I’ve never been good with plants, either. That’s why I plant foolproof flowers in the garden. They thrive without me.
    I really enjoyed the images you put with your words. The light and shadows on that tree lined road/path are beautiful.
    I am craving tater tots now. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Robin. Yes, we definitely need to grow things that don’t require much work. We’re really good at weeds! Haha.
      They’re not something I’d normally crave, but those tater tots were really good. 🙂

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