The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

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which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Feeling the Mulch after Two Hours of Gardening Yesterday.
Feeling the Burn Next Door

Sassy keeps track of all the children she knows,
and they love her gentle spirit.

Sassy wanted to walk at 6 AM, so I got a late start. Better to walk first and make coffee second than to look at her puppy eyes damning me for making her wait. The early walk is our longest one now, and she loves exploring when the child of morning, rosey-fingered Dawn appears.

Last night she fooled me, as she often does. Sassy was supposed to walk the cul-de-sac with me and go inside again. Instead, she smiled and walked into the grassy acreage of Almost Eden. I thought, "OK, she wants something different." She looks at me and smiles for permission to go where she wants. She repeated this several times, getting closer and closer to the plants, but that was still a bit of a walk.

I headed us behind the earthen berms, where top soil had created a paradise for wild flowers, weeds, insects, and birds. I was trying to see if they had Poison Hemlock, as I did earlier. Once past the berm we were among the gardens, fruits, and bushes. I heard a sound - perhaps Little Almost Eden. Then I realized the game. Sassy can detect her friends from our front yard, goes on alert, and strives to meet them. This time she only heard them and worked her way into a reunion.

The dog Opie, Little Almost Eden, and Grampa walked into view. The dogs had a happy meet and greet, and the rest of us talked about dogs and gardening. I knew it was a former dairy farm, but I also learned our house was the area where they grew grapes. Sassy soon become warm and tired, so we said goodbye and walked home. She stretched out on the cool floor to get comfortable again.

Our Crepe Myrtle blooms look like pink Christmas trees.


Feeling the Mulch
I joined our helper at 6 AM yesterday in spreading as much mulch as possible in the main rose garden. We had a lot of fun kidding each other as we worked. This morning I felt the results in the back of my legs, but it is far more productive than the sterile exercise possible in a gym.

Unlike the rest of the neighborhood, I coddle our Crepe Myrtle bush. Before the rain I watered it slowly at the base to bring out the blooms, which are big, fluffy, and pink. Now that it is almost in full bloom, I built a new base of fertilizer for future health and beauty.

  • Basement layer - the clippings, sticks and leaves from the maple tree.
  • Ground floor - a bag of cow manure compost from Walmart.
  • First floor - newspaper and brown paper to discourage grassy weeds.
  • Top floor - a bag of cyprus mulch from Walmart.
I have built organic material pyramids under the Crepe Myrtle many times before, and the ground always ends up level. While some of this may be blown away by the wind, most is composted into the ground by soil creatures while providing a bird feeder and spider haven. 


God has sorted out who does what during these stages of decomposition and feeding. This is where the Creation gardener gets to observe the unique functions of each creature, but also the careful engineering and design of each form of life, and finally the expert management that makes them all work together. 

Does your wood mulch invite bugs? Spiders will cast a net over the mulch on the first day and birds will poke through to catch some. Starling beaks are fashioned so they spring them open to flip leaves and twigs to expose bugs.

Did a dog vomit on your mulch? No, that is a slime mold called Dog Vomit, and it is actually doing some cleanup duty before disappearing. Our Army veteran buddy picked it up just before I called it Dog Vomit, swore, and asked, "Why didn't you tell me?" I laughed and said, "Not Sassy's. That is a slime mold that forms on wood mulch."

Is your mulch pile under the plant shrinking? That is the divine example of Project Management, a skill we teach - and pay big money for - in our daily lives of labor and rest. But the Creating Word has this all arranged in advance so the necessary recycling of all living things will feed the next generation of plant and animal life. Nitrogen and manure heat up the pile under the bush. Wood scraps alone can heat up enough, in huge piles, to start a fire. (That was always a problem with coal and perhaps a reason why the Titanic went down in 1912, trying to burn off the simmering coal piles.)

The more we know about this, the better we can let our gardens take advantage of what was established by the Word at Creation.



Feeling the Burn
During the day I felt the heat and smelled the acrid smoke of lumber burning next door. The kids built a large bonfire out of scraps, breaking a bevvy of laws:
  1. Scrap lumber cannot be burned.
  2. A burn permit is required for legal fires, like burning brush.
  3. The fire cannot be within 50 feet of combustible buildings (one on each side).
  4. A hose must be near the fire - none visible.
  5. The fire must be tended at all times, never left alone.
  6. No fires before dawn or after sundown. They previously had many outdoor fires at night, but that practice stopped. 
The nearby station sent a truck over with three men. They arrived in minutes after I described the situation. The firemen came out of the truck looking very grim. Soon one boy was dousing their bonfire. I am not sure if the boys earned a ticket for their efforts, but the scrap pile was thoroughly extinguished and the outside quiet for the rest of the day.

Slime Mold looks like dog vomit,
but it is following its own engineering and doing its job.