The Ghosts of Lexington Reservoir
It was sort of a family reunion, up there in the woods on Soda Springs Road, lots of seldom seen aunts, uncles & cousins. The house was finally finished, although the smell of sawdust and paint was slow to fade from the air. Sharp in my memory are the slippery hardwood floors and a wrought iron spiral staircase that led to a funny little third story room: pool table, wet bar and large sunny windows,as well as a telescope that looked out across the reservoir. It was a very adult sort of room, you could feel the grown-up vibe; and we were told in no uncertain terms that we weren't allowed up there by ourselves. I think they were afraid that we would fall down the spiral stairs.
On the day of this sighting the cousins woke early and we laid our plans, giggling and whispering in the stillness of the summer morning. Setting off for the forbidden top floor, our bare feet made no sound on the steps of the stairs, just little squeaks as we crossed the bare wood floors. As we reached the top, morning sunlight was already streaming in through the eastern windows which were well above the treeline (California scrub oaks, I think.) I remember watching the particles of dust dance through the sunlight shafts, it was very still and quiet. Far away the sound of my stepmother's grandfather clock, tick ticking. I don't know what we meant to do up there, but somehow or another we ended up looking through the telescope, across the reservoir to the hillside on the other side of Highway 17. I began to notice something white and glowing that stood like a sentry over the road. There were several of them, stiff, forboding and unmoving. "Look!" I gave the telescope to my cousin, Jeremy. "What's that?" "Oh,"he said, hushed and knowing, as he squinted through the lens, "Those are ghosts. We'd better duck, or they'll see us looking at them!" We got down on our hands and knees and crawled backwards down the stairs, trying to keep out of sight of the windows. And thus began a long and terrifying day, slinking about, trying not to look out the windows, sure that the ghosts had seen the glint of the telescope through our window.
Later in my sister Jessica's room, I glanced outside-only to discover, floating amongst the trees-the same ghostly visions! Her room was almost all windows, so the only way to get around was to crawl. I crawled. I was gripped with fear. I was sure that the ghosts saw us earlier and then came to spy on us. I didn't know what to do. I told my cousins, and we trembled together, feeling the enmity of the ghosts in the oak trees. I don't remember when the fear subsided, when the terrifying game ended; the back of my neck ceased to tingle and I could saunter casually past the windows, unafraid.
I don't even know how it came to pass that we learned the secret identity of the horrible ghost watchers. Only that it wasn't until much much later.

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Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.