Saturday, April 18, 2009

Early Rhododendron & The Lost Necklace

My friend J. tells me there are two kinds of people: sorters and spreaders.  She's a "spreader."  I'm a sorter.  'What good does it do to sort things?' she asks.  'You end up with stacks.  What good are stacks?'

There is a value to sorting: it's a prelude to throwing things out.  I love to throw things out--clothes, furniture, paper, just about anything. Did you know that you can compost old clothes?  I just dumped  a moth-eaten sweater, a ratty scarf, paint-stained pants, and ancient pillowcases.  They rot faster than oak leaves and improve the soil.

When I throw things away, I feel lighter, freer.  But I admit I am sometimes too hasty.  These lovely early rhododendrons almost got the axe.  For years the plant put out only a few blossoms; it was straggly, miserable, starved though I fed it.  I'd had enough and cut it down to nubs in preparation to yanking it out, but John--he's becoming a hero in these stories--said to wait another year.  When I was little I believed everything was alive in the way people are alive: plants as beings.  If I were still the little girl I used to be, I would say the rhododendron heard John and planned to flower like mad, which it did this year.  Others will say it was my brutal cutting.  It's been in bloom for three weeks.

Have I ever gotten rid of something and later regretted it?  Yes.  A necklace of red crystal beads.  I gave it to a friend and immediately regretted it.  It was old glass, faceted, some beads worn and slightly cloudy like sea glass, this necklace from my aunt.  I wish I had it still.  I don't believe my friend valued it as much as I did.  It seems to represent a lost possibility.  It's not just the loss of the necklace I regret but something unnamable.         


  1. A lovely post. Had no idea you could compost old clothes!

  2. Yes. I try to compost only cotton and wool. The other day I threw on strips from an old horse blanket. If the clothes are still wearable I cart them to Morgan Memorial, a thrift shop where I sometimes buy clothes, but have never run into any of mine.