U is for Unless. I was trying to find a good botanical U word, but I could locate very few. Umbel is “an inflorescence with pedicles or branches arising at the same point and of nearly equal length.” Think Queen Anne’s Lace. Ulmus is the whole family of elms, and Urtica is the stinging nettle. Stinging nettle made me think of the problems we can face when gardening. And that made me think of an alphabet book by the delightful artist David Hockney and others. The only letter of that alphabet that I can recall is the U. David Hockney’s collaboration (I don’t remember who) said U is for Unless. He said Unless is the creaking hinge of a story. And a creepy, scary hinge it is. The garden should do well this year — Unless we have a drought, the well dries up and I cannot water the garden, losing all my labor, and because all my neighbors will have dry wells too, I’ll have to drive to buy gallons of grocery story water to drink, and have to go downhill to our beaver pond to get water for flushing the toilets, and have to visit one of my children who lives where there is town water to take a shower, and have to drive 15 miles to the nearest laundromat and any tears I shed will only make the soil bad, and then the whole landscape will die, and I won’t even be able to sell and and we will become poverty stricken and what happens after that will be just terrible —- Unless it rains and all is saved.
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Queen Ann’s Lace is a pretty pest. Umbel is a good word. It makes me think of a Dickens character saying “humble”.