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Stranded in Guantanamo: Thoughts to keep minds busy

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, April 16th, 2008 at 7:53 am in Gardens, Natural Thoughts.


Dear Gary: Rambling thoughts and a garden of wonder and joy.

I was just lying on the couch feeling crappy. I shut my eyes and I heard in my head the sound of wings. I thought of the way bats sounded at night when they were flying all around our heads when we used to go bank fishing. Then, I thought about the sounds of a boomerang … or, what about the sound of a jump rope when the kids speed things up … an old timey disciplinarian with a willow switch … a rodeo rider getting ready to rope a cow … the buzz of a hummingbird’s wings … the bees in my garden hovering over the borage plant with its tiny sapphire blue star-like flowers. The gentle, beautiful garden …

I bet a person could go on and on thinking of what things sound like. When people are in Guantanamo or holed up in one of our secret prisons somewhere in the world, they must keep their minds busy thinking of these kinds of ruminations. Don’t you think? To keep from going nuts. Imagining the smell of things, the touch of things, the sounds of things …

It might be OK to be holed up for a day; but can you imagine how awful it must be to have to rely on your imagination and memory to get you through years of detention? That our country is doing this to people is a very terrible thing.

So precious is freedom. To walk out into my garden and look at the seeds that I planted busting through the soil. Suddenly, there are many, many tiny little seedlings. I can tell what my planted seedlings are, but I wonder with excitement who the uninvited guests might be.

I was thrilled when I saw the yellow chard returning — a yellow chard had lived for 3 years until it’s stems became woody and it gave off small, yet still edible leaves. Finally, I pulled it out. It was getting too gnarled-looking and it didn’t look happy anymore. Now, it has babies. They’re popping up in my new veggie garden. What else will I find? I see some purslane. It is a weed, but the nutritious leaves are very edible and it has pretty little yellow flowers and seeds that can be treated like a grain.

I haven’t seen catnip in my yard for a few years either. It’s a wonder what a little H20 can do. Yet, there it is. There is a small catnip plant popping up in the pot I transplanted comfrey into. Silly me. I thought I dug out all the comfrey. Hah! Comfrey is tough! It’ll grow from a tiny smidgen of a root. I’ll try and carefully move the catnip to the planter box at the end of the patio, at the end of the planter box. This way, the cats can saunter by and rub. On the other side is the False Indigo that I got from Nichol’s Nursery in Oregon. In the center is a gigantic fennel plant Everyone says fennel is a foreign invader plant, brought over by Italians, I suppose. And, yes! It would take over the yard in a minute.

But, when I was a child, I remember running through the fennel plants up on the hill above Castro St. in San Francisco. There was this magic place, a house that we called “the castle.” It was made all of big stones. It looked a bit like an old church Big black dogs lived inside the walls and barked ferociously at us. We’d laugh and play in the field of fennel, coming home at night, smelling of licorice.

My clematis vines are blooming for the first time in gigantic blooms all over — bright pink and purple — the first time they’ve bloomed in such glory.

I feel better already. (Paulette in Pleasanton)

Dear readers:
From time to time I’ll print someone’s “Primal Rant” here for your enlightenment. You can respond to these Rants and add your own comments by clicking on “leave a comment” below. If you’re really riled up about something relating to animals or the environment, send me your own Primal Rant about it in an e-mail (put Primal Rant in the subject field), or letter.

E-mail me at

Letters can be mailed to: Gary Bogue, Pet & Wildlife Columnist, Contra Costa Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099.

Rants that are submitted may or may not be used. That’s up to me. (At least you’ll feel much better after you write them.) /Gary

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