February 20, 2020 The Pool Table

The glorious sunshine we are experiencing has almost made me forget how wet it was two weeks ago, but I am still puzzling over an odd vision I saw at the height of high water. In the green field against a backdrop of dripping Cedar, Spruce and Red-twig Dogwood*, stood a pool table surrounded by six-inch deep, clear floodwater from the nearby pond.

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As our rainy, rainy January sloshed into February, I kind of wanted to hop a plane to somewhere south of the Equator. That’s where my co-worker, Lisa, has been! Checking out the native plants of Uganda and tracking gorillas. And my son and new daughter-in-law have been on their honeymoon in South America, befriending llamas, exploring ancient civilizations and enjoying summer. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the ground was squishy, full to capacity with water. Between mudslides, flooding and resulting traffic jams, I wasn’t sure if I would make it home at night!

Last July (it seems a decade ago), my son and his bride celebrated their marriage on the family homestead adjacent to the nursery. It was an “epic” (my son’s descriptor) party: three days of camping, live music, s’mores around campfires, people shooting pool on the pool table (yes, THE pool table) brought in for the occasion, wonderful food, drinking games and an Epic Float which filled the pond with colorful air mattresses, inflatable unicorns, splashing and laughter. The epic weekend culminated in a beautiful outdoor wedding. Approximately19 gorgeous bridesmaids flowed in waves of peach and coral, and — less conspicuous – a contingent of groomsmen wore Hawaiian shirts. The congregation of friends, family and wedding party focused on the action at the rustic wedding arbor, which my son had built from Hemlock** poles. A friend had harvested roses from her garden and decorated the arbor. Blooming pink, white and mauve hydrangeas from Paradise Lake Nursery down the road flanked the arbor, mingled with many native plants recruited from Tadpole Haven Native Plants: Paper birches, Vine Maples, Twinflower, Deer Ferns, Sword Ferns, Maidenhair Ferns, Salal.***

Fast forward to post-Groundhog Day, post-Super Bowl, post-post-wedding. Post-inches-of-rain. The dog and I trudged down the path. I trudged in my rubber boots; Tyrannosaurus Gus raced to and fro, smelling rabbits, moles, ducks. The pond lay ahead, rippling with raindrops and expanded well beyond the usual shoreline. To my right stood the wedding arbor, bare of décor, but still beautiful. Closer to the pond, I saw a marshmallow-toasting firepit immersed in the flood; several pieces of floating firewood slowly processed toward open water. Threatening to follow, a collection of canoe paddles and the cache of deflated floaties, green and smeary with algae. The picnic tables were engulfed to their benchtops.

But it was the pool table up to its ankles in water that stopped me in my tracks. This vision still confuses me. It demands attention. It is an assault on common sense –don’t ask me why it is still out here six months later, I have no idea. Is it in the wrong place or the right place? Is it a joke? A sacrifice to the rain gods? Maybe it is a simple invitation to play pool in a pond. Pull off the puddled tarp, chalk up your cue stick, squint through the rain and take your shot. Out-of-doors, where you belong.

Not sure what this has to do with selling native plants, but I guess our lives belong in nature. We are part of nature – rain or shine – alongside granite rocks, giant orcas, musty humus and Cascara berries.

*Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata), Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), Red-twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea)

**Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)

*** Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), Vine Maple (Acer circinatum), Twinflower (Linnea borealis), Deer Fern (Blechnum spicant), Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum), Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum), Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

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