Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Get Around (To The Haber-Bosch Process)

My Aunt Noon, who I wrote a somewhat lengthy ode to below, eventually left her Sugarbush Ridge home, and bought a small ten acre property, North East, over in Westfield, what would be swallowed by the wildfire of Carmel, Indiana.  While the surrounding territory around her farm was clickety clacking with the sound of generators and nail guns, all the dust and noise just blew right over the top of her property, a verdant spread, with a seriously park like atmosphere.  

The place had, by the owners before her, been run as a progressively diminishing horse farm.  It had started out, perhaps, as a fifty or one hundred acre property, and slowly, through the decades been parceled out, until finally, the ten acres stood, plaintively looking into the eyes of their owners, wondering, "How you gonna pave this, huh?"  The owners, as all must eventually, buckled to the sheer memory that those ten acres alone had produced (to say nothing of the rest.)  Eventually my lovely Aunt and smiling Uncle came along, and the fates straitened their dresses for something not indifferent to their nature.  Ca-ching!  

Actually it wasn't quite that easy.  But, do you really want to hear about it?

I'd rather tell you why they wanted to move there, other than the obvious pleasures of the pseudo rural life, three blocks from MCL Cafeteria.  As I indicated before my Aunt loves to garden, and by the way, my Uncle is quite the game partner in this crime against oblivion (gardening, of course...)  And so, the two of them as their big brick house began to empty, looked out each year at a forest that had the can do Yankee spirit that made our land the richest in history (before it was settled, even.)  They must have wondered outside of fire, what will ever yield us a yard that sunlight will settle on for more than a minute at a time?  Given the seven dwarve like chipper whistling of the trees all about them, a for sale sign was put up as quick as you might flick a Bic.

Now, do not be under the delusion that their yard at Sugarbush was anything but the most beautiful garden I have ever seen.  It certainly was.  They did things with verticality, and verdant, vertiginous three dimensional clumping and spacing of gigantic hostas and perennials (of every variety, provided they could handle a little sun.... a very little).  And don't forget the daylilly beds up at the top of the lane that had spread like glint in my Aunt's eye as she surveyed each space cut from the woods.  But honestly, every gardener who lives beneath something, dreads those words, FULL SUN.  It's as hard to achieve as the mountain top in the old time spiritual.  Unless you are in the middle of a field, or on a farm of some variety.  And many subdivisions are but houses plunked down upon a field.  So they have sun.  But my Aunt's subdivision, Sugarbush, was not like that, so to save the forest from her dreams, she sold that big brick house.

I could go on at some leisure, and with great pleasure describing to you how she planned meticulously the assault on that beautiful ten acre property, starting with planting many, many small plants on a different property, of a friend, and ending with an entire farm of daylillies, hostas and perennials.  Winding Way farm she called it.

Believe it or not, other than the fact that she comes up all the time in my thoughts and conversations with people in their yard (I'll be riding my bike and see somebody working in a yard I have admired for a long time. So I'll stop and do what's natural, and before long they are showing me all kinds of stuff, some of which I will recognize from my parents gardens, and a lot of which I recognize from my Aunt's gardens.) and the fact that I love her, what got me on the subject of my Aunt was the Haber-Bosch Process, which only very glancingly has anything to do with her, our history, and really, anything at all.  It's the chemical engineering process that allowed the western world (and eventually the entire world) to mine the atmosphere for the nitrates and nitrites we needed for our gardens and our guns.  Needless to say, I read a book about it a couple years ago.

So anyway, I wanted to talk about my Aunt teaching me one spring about the difference in the quality of rain on her plants, and watering by her plumbing, and how that had remained a fascinating mystery to me as well (rain is so much better, in terms of the way plants react to it.)
Then I read about the Haber-Bosch Process.  Scales fell from my eyes.

But to finish, properly, my Aunt and Uncle, and my Parents and family get the credit for me being interested.  My clients ask me all the time while I'm chatting with them, if somethings not too dangerous to do such a thing, "Is there anything you aren't interested in?"  I just laugh, for it is far from my fault.  Sometimes, if I'm feeling cheeky and a bit dramatic I say, in a deep and rediculous Hollywood voice, "Perhaps one day, Mrs. XXXXXX, you will meet my people." 

While it's safe to say that is the sort of thing a smart ass would say, it also is a bit more true than I am oftentimes comfortable admitting, given the realities of our world.  

Perhaps one day, reader, you might discover why.

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