It’s that time of year again–well, it’s late for that time of year. For some reason I always miss the true peak of pruning season and sneak it in, just before the whole thing starts to bloom. So today I’m doing three trees and the roses.

The pyracantha ought to be a shrub, but before I got here someone let it go and it was a tree–dropping its litter and berries all over the roof. I’ve been pruning it shorter and shorter each year. I’m trying to make it into an arch over the sidewalk and now, after six years, it’s finally started to take some shape. I also do the annual whack at the buckhorn. It’s a shame, really. It was planted next to the house–as though it were a shrub. Unfortunately, in its natural state it would be a lovely, large tree. Elmer, the landlord, wants a shrub, though, so each year I whack it into a sad version of its real intentions. I feel guilty doing it, but the alternative is that Elmer will. I love the man, but he is a plant butcher. So I undertake the annual ritual of pretending that you can, year in–year out, cheat nature. The buckhorn should never have been planted next to the house. Ultimately, if left to its own devices, its roots can, and will, destroy the foundation. I have trouble with this. One of my pet peeves is the short-sighted planting of trees. In any planting scheme, one should always consider the soil, the light and the size of the proposed tree as it will fit into the existing landscape. In that regard, this farm is a constant test of my patience and reserve. And finally, I’ll trim the peach tree.

The peach has it’s own history, as previously discussed in this blog. It was infected with peach curl when I came, and finally, last summer (after stripping all the leaves) we had a curl free season. The tree grew lots of new, lovely, healthy branches. It has never looked so good. So I’ll trim it with a mind to an improved shape and maximizing this year’s crop. It bears lovely peaches. Pruning the peach has its own hazards. It’s planted on a mound in a rock garden. The rocks are large–and tippy. Under one side of the tree, amidst the treacherous rocks, some enterprising garden fool has buried a large, Victorian era bathtub. I guess it’s supposed to be a water feature, though usually it’s just a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Over all of this, is a groundcover–vinca major, whose job it is to obsure one’s footing enough to guarantee a dip in the very cold, murky water of the tub, should you try to prune in the winter. I’ve fallen in once already today. The mounded garden makes it impossible to water the peach tree. The rocks and tub make it impossible to use a ladder safely in pruning. This is the kind of tree placement that is typical on this farm. It’s a good thing Elmer makes his living with livestock.

That’s what’s new on the farm. My personal life has been a roller coaster of personal trials this past month, so the pruning comes at a good time. Pruning is a very reflective chore–each cut a set of decisions about shape and future direction. I love it. It is as close as one gets to sculpture in adult life. I’m pruning in my life, too, making decisions about future directions. So there are parallels to this winter chore.

I’ve returned to writing–jumping into The Trial of Trudy Castor as though I’d never stopped. It’s funny how you can leave a story–for months even, and then pick right up with it, like an old friend. In my recent tumult, I’ve neglected my marketing on the last book The Gift of Guylaine Claire. It’s not nearly as easy a read as the first book, though I think it’s the better of the two. I also think that the French Canadian name, right there in the title, inhibits interest. We shall see. In the interim, I’m offering a free download of it–good through the tenth of March. If you have an e-reading device, feel free to download it through smashwords.com. Enter the coupon code  VH78Q at check out. If you like it, please leave a review on goodreads.com (or, if you must, on Amazon)–or comment here on the blog, if you prefer. I look forward to some input.

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