The garden, bathed in spring light, was entering its most exuberant phase, but not everyone was happy. "Get this fucking bell-slash-collar off my neck," said Elektra. "I mean, I get why those other assholes have to wear them, but you don't see me fighting, do you? And how am I supposed to kill flying snakes with a bell around my neck?" The native phlox concurred. It seemed unjust that Elektra would have to wear a collar when the issue was Clio attacking Dante, who (via misplaced feline aggression) would then attack Zephyr, leading to screaming brawls between the two boys. "Who, me?" asked Clio, the picture of innocence. In the end, the bells came off of everyone. The native phlox has been a big success in the garden, owing to the fact that 1) it creeps, and 2) it flowers. Whenever I see the more common, non-wild/native phlox (which is pervasive), I feel smug. Native phlox is so much more elegant and subdued, I think, as if I were making an appearance in the Universal Court of Fine Gardening. Notwithstanding the fact that 1) I used to love our non-native phlox and 2) that we recently purchased some equally questionable annuals for one of our pots. Real gardening, like real life, is often marked by compromise. That said, another area of unequivocal success is the clematis, which is flowering wildly for the first time this year. We actually have several varieties, all of which are climbing up the wall, using the very tenacious Virginia creeper as a support. In other important news, we also purchased some black violets, because even though they've not exactly thrived in the past, it's impossible to resist such an intoxicatingly morose flower. Seriously, contemplate the black violet and revel in the pain of existence (but vicariously)! Another important lesson of life/gardening: anyone looks great in slanting, late-afternoon light! Sometimes I worry that our double-blossom white azalea is "a bit much," and I think it would be in another color (pink or purple), but somehow these flowers become passing clouds in the spring garden. Despite our best efforts, Dante refused to "stop and smell the flowers" and raced inside at the first indication that there might be snacks waiting to be consumed. Here's another shot of the black violet: embrace the melancholy! "Snacks now." <3 Recently in a professional context I receive an e-mail from someone who, despite possessing an advanced degree, used a lot of 'text language' such as <MIND BLOWN> and 'rlly?' It lead me to question my own use of these and similar terms, and whether I should add a disclaimer after each one. "Please note the use of this term/symbol/emoticon is done in the spirit of half-seriousness and half-mocking irony that both cripples and defines my generation (x). Srsly." Our Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Elizabeth') continues to have its best year ever. I have a niece named Elizabeth and hope -- in the manner of the mysterious connections that define the universe -- that she's also having a great spring. A reminder that blurry photographs are sometimes better than non-blurry ones. (IMHO.) I also feel confident in saying that my love for old bricks will never die. Clio, who's less than two years old and already has six children, is still figuring out what she likes. There are so many lines and boundaries to negotiate: some artificial, some natural, and some self-imposed. Red and green, together. Like life, the garden is chaotic but composed.