Tuesday, April 6, 2010

a new world in our front yard

In seed stories, part 3, I wrote about planting "CBS tableaux" in the front yard, and during Easter weekend this plan came to fruition at last.

In this context, 'CBS' refers not to a broadcast network but to the basic new-world native plants: Corn, Beans, and Squash. I learned the term from Gloria years ago in Pennsylvania, and today I brought it up just for the fun of remembering a drive she and I took to a plant nursery out in the country when I was on a quest for rhubarb and our younger sons were together in nursery school.

Today's googling, however, has led to a revelation! The CBS trinity of plants represents three sisters -- goddesses venerated in various forms by numerous Native American cultures: and documented here via a tribe, a seed company, a curriculum guide, and a museum.

Now, of course, I wish I'd asked Gloria more about CBS gardens. She had spent time in New Mexico and probably had first-hand knowledge of the three sisters. But we had other matters on our minds: children, chamber music, departmental politics, the gardens we were planting in 1971.

My CBS garden is centered on four inverted tomato cages. Each one includes seedlings of three types of plants: one sunflower, two or three ornamental corn, and one or two beans (rattlesnake and/or scarlet runner varieties). Zucchini squash seeds are planted in the narrow spaces between the cages, and a 'hill' of pumpkins will occupy a central area between the cages as soon as I prepare the soil properly. So it's actually SCBS, counting the sunflower, which is also a new-world native.

"Archetypes don't lie dormant long," I wrote in my poem Transubstantiation several years ago. I like to think that three (or four) metaphysical, metaphorical sisters will watch over our front yard as its focal point shifts from old-world and third-world ornamentals to new-world edibles.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License