I spent Saturday in the garden with Violet and her friend Cesca Robinson. It doesn’t get any better than watching little girls wandering around the garden. They picked and prepared a salad. On a bed of large-leafed basil they arranged sun gold tomatoes. They put a tiny slice in each tomato and inserted some pea shoots, which only emerged a week ago. They garnished with double click white cosmos and sprigs of thyme. Don’t worry, they did not eat the cosmos. They ate several green peppers each. They made the discovery that even sweet peppers have hot spicy seeds.

I’m justifiably proud of myself; we’ll see how long it lasts. I got several beds planted in field peas in the last few weeks. I can tell already they have crowded out some weeds. I planted them ridiculously thick, probably a quarter of an inch apart all over the beds.

In my plan (this, of course, is in my perfect world), I will till those pea shoots into the soil within the month and then replant with winter rye or wheat. I love how the beds look in winter with a nice green cover crop.

Speaking of tilling, I purchased a small mantis tiller a couple of years ago. I haven’t used it much as I tend to stick to a hand cultivator or shovel. For years I used a Troy-Bilt Pony. I have to say they are annoying machines. Way too loud, smelling of gasoline and difficult to start. I got tired of pulling my shoulder out of its socket every time I yanked on the starting cord. Thank God, I’ve been blessed with two strong sons who I’m able to bully for my machine work.

Two years ago I planted six apple trees. They are heirloom varieties and a bit pricey. Here I am with two (count ‘em) apples for my time and money. Honestly, it’s fortunate I am a good sport. Anyway, I noticed a vine climbing into one of the trees and kept promising I would remove it. Yesterday the vine was covered with red flowers which turned out to be scarlet runner bean. It may have seeded itself from last year as I neglected to plant some this year. It’s in perfect condition, no bug bites, go figure.

The Goldsturm Rudbeckia is looking spectacular right now. It is a sturdy plant—the perfect black-eyed Susan. It tends to reseed and go all over but in a good way. In the spring it is difficult to tell it from echinacea. The leaves are very similar.

I love the autumn clematis. Most of the year it behaves in a weedy fashion but redeems itself in bloom. It insinuates itself here and there. It weaves into privet hedges, up into cedar trees, along walls, anywhere it pleases, with a wonderful heady scent.

How fitting that Mitt Romney neglected to mention Afghanistan in his acceptance speech. I noticed he rattled some sabers at both Iran and Russia. Remember, I wrote this before the Democratic convention so I’ll be untimely.

The war in Afghanistan is barely a blip on the screen. No one talks about it. We’ve been engaged there longer than any other war in our history. I remember watching the body count every single night on the six o’clock news during the Vietnam war. Those of us against that conflict were acutely aware of that military operation. Have we become so self-involved as a nation we no longer care about our greater world? Thank you to the troops and their families for the sacrifice. Let’s get out of there!