The Madwoman's Journal
Copyright 1998 New Moon
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  Prev 20 August 98

  Oddly enough, when I got up today, everything seemed to make sense. Life, I mean. It all seemed so simple. I knew exactly what needed to be done, and I knew that all these things were well within my capabilities. It was going to be okay. So I made myself a cup of coffee (a la Holly), and took it out on the back porch, enjoying the day.

As I sat down in the rocker, I noticed the two cherry tomato plants sitting on the lawn chair. It's late in the season, I know, but I picked them up Monday afternoon, on sale. I had been meaning to get a plant or two early in the season-- I love tomatoes as much as I love the smell of the plants-- but, what with one thing and another, and the fact that we had so much rain in May and June, I put it off, then forgot about it. By the time I remembered, it was too late, and there was no point in even looking. Or so I thought until I spotted these plants down at Leeway.

I had stopped in to poke around and see what they had for garden ornaments, sundials in particular. I've been shopping for just the right sundial as a birthday present for my friend up in New Hampster. When I last visited her over Fourth of July, she took me on a tour of her front yard, which she has been gradually landscaping since she moved in three years ago. It was beginning to shape up, and she had one of those park benches with the wooden slats and wrought iron ends set under the trees. A good place to sit, and yet, there was something missing.

Over breakfast that Sunday morning I noticed a brochure sitting on the table. It was for The American Stonehenge. I had never heard of it, so I asked Joyce if it was nearby. She said it was only about ten miles away, over in North Salem. I asked if she had been over to see it, and she said no, she had been meaning to visit the site ever since she moved in, but, well, you know how it is; and now, well, she'd feel foolish going over there precisely because she had lived so near it for so long and hadn't seen it. I told her we'd take my car and pretend we were both from out of state. And that's what we did.

It was raining a bit, but, it didn't cost anything to poke around in the gift shop, so we did that, and looked at the "scientific" exhibits. Then the weather cleared and we paid our admission fees. They gave us a site map, and pointed us to the viewing room where we watched a twelve minute film. Then we headed out the back door, into the mosquito infested woods.

I'm still not convinced it's any Stonehenge, but it was interesting. I like rocks. And there were places where it was obvious someone had been building something or other. And there were other places I could be convinced that there might have been some larger plan behind the placements, but whether it was astronomical, geographical, merely esthetic, or opportunistically exploitive, I wouldn't be prepared to say-- I've always been a hard sell when it comes to these New Age Scientific Discoveries. Whatever it was, we enjoyed the walk in the woods, and the speculation the site afforded.

On the way out, by the back door of the gift shop, we noticed there was a little sundial set in a flower bed. By the sundial there was a graph showing the wobble of the earth that had to be compensated for to keep a sundial accurate during the year. Joyce commented that she thought it would be more trouble than it was worth; but it set me to thinking just what would be required in setting up a fairly accurate sundial. See, I've been keeping track of the heavens for over thirty years now, and the graph presented a pretty clear picture to me of just what I'd need to compensate for, how I could set it up--

The long and the short of it is that I made up my mind to get Joyce a nice sundial for her yard, and set it up properly, with adjustment markings to compensate for the changes in the earth's motions. At first, I thought I might build the sundial, but, I work with wood, not metal or stone, and wood didn't seem permanent enough, so I thought I might buy a nice brass sundial, one that's big enough and has enough clear space around the edge for me to place the necessary markings. And that's what took me to Leeway. They have a large selection of birdbaths, planters, fountains, lawn furniture, wind chimes, really ugly cement statues of I don't know what, and sundials-- but no pink flamingos.

They didn't have any really nice sundials. But there were these left over cherry tomato plants off to one side. They were interesting because they looked so much like Japanese flower arrangements, I forget what it's called-- ikebana. As tomato plants go, these were past it: straggley and underfed, the leaves beginning to brown about the edges. But the plants hung over the sides of the pots in interesting curves, and the fragrant green foliage interspersed with small green and red tomatoes was really quite beautiful. I bought two at $2.99 each. And today I finally got them planted in the large green container used for my tomatoes last year, and set them to growing on my back porch.

I remember reading this once: If I had but two pennies, with one I would buy bread to feed my body, with the other hyacinths to feed my soul. These days you can't get much for two cents, but for a fiver I shall have delicious tomatoes into next year, and a delightful ikebana arrangement to look at the while (I bring the plants into the kitchen when the weather gets cold-- you can do that, you know). Simple things, but I can't think of a better value for the money.

So, I'm still looking for a sundial, and working out exactly how the markings will have to be calibrated, but it's a very interesting project. And it'll be a pleasure to think about it again tomorrow as I sit on my back porch, drinking my coffee and contemplating my ikebana tomatoes...

I hope the project doesn't take me too long. Joyce's birthday was in July.



  Ikebana & other things Japanese.

American Stonehenge (AKA Mystery Hill)

Bob's Make Your Own Sundial

Needham Science Center Sundial

Sundials on the Internet


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