There are four words a person over a certain age does not want to hear, especially from a medical professional: “as a person ages.” I heard a friend relate an experience at the doctor. She was concerned about her hearing and was having it checked. After the dreaded four words, she was told that not only does the hearing begin to fail but also the ability for the brain to rapidly process verbal input. A smarty-pants, she asked him to repeat that, but failed to get even a grin.

I’m going nowhere with that lead paragraph. Sunday’s New York Times had a beautiful front page photograph of a field of opium poppies in Afghanistan. I could only appreciate their beauty and could not bring myself to get outraged about drug use, warlords, other means of income for poor farmers, or other feelings we have about drug production in foreign lands. I know the U.S. is on the demand side of the equation, so who are we to talk?

At any rate, I love poppies, there are so many different types. The opium poppy can be purchased. It is listed as a somniferum or bread seed in the catalogs. It will re-seed for years but is officially an annual. The key is recognizing the toothed blue-green leaves in the early spring garden. They are stunning in bloom and come in different colors.

The orientals are perennial and have a much more sturdy habit. This is probably the classic well known by all. Most know the scarlet red or orange, although there is a lovely salmon Princess Victoria Louise as well as a white Royal Wedding.

There are many different annuals along with the opiums. There are huge peony-flowered ones, Californias, and rhoeas. All can and should be direct seeded and will reseed reliably. The Iceland poppy is a biennial so one must wait a year for blooms.

There are tricks for cutting poppies for the table. Plunging them immediately after picking into cold water or burning the ends with a lighter both help them last in arrangements. I never pick mine. I would rather enjoy them in the garden. I would consider an arrangement as a gift for a dinner party since it would be a one-night stand.

The locust trees are in bloom. It is a couple of weeks early for them. They are noticeable at the bus stop area of Hillside Village. Usually they are so high up on the tree one could miss them. The climbing roses on the house at the bottom of the Edgartown Road are in full and glorious bloom. They are a deep pink, which I prefer over the New Dawn pale pink variety.

I received my sweet potato plants in the mail. Since I was stressed for time, I wheeled them in and walked away. I now regret it as they look pretty sad. If I do not succeed I will have no one to blame but myself. I hate that.

I started some jumbo Virginia peanuts in large plug trays about a month ago. They are a long season crop and needed the extra time in a greenhouse. They are a fun crop to grow for children. Anything underground, i.e. potatoes or carrots, is particularly fun for children to discover. They are so easily delighted.

We picked several quarts of strawberries and made yummy shortcake. I confess I did not make the biscuits but purchased the package of five from Orange Peel Bakery. It’s great to have so much local food available.

This is my third and probably last year using this particular strawberry patch. It is good to move it every few years as it becomes increasingly crowded with all the runners. I move the strongest of those runners to become the parent plants in a newly composted bed. If this does not occur as is often the case in our busy lives, the berries will get smaller every year. This is not entirely bad as they are still sweet and delicious. It may even make them easier for the birds to locate.

My potatoes are up a mere four inches and already have been found by the Colorado potato beetle. I hand-picked and squished for half an hour and pretty quickly lost my good humor.

The more I see of Mitt Romney, the more I am beginning to appreciate George W. Bush. Although I disagreed with the former president on almost every single policy issue, at least he believed what he said. Kitty Burke gave me a list of political one-liners. All are timely:

• The problem with political jokes is they get elected (Henry Cate VII).

• We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office (Aesop).

• If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these political speeches there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven (Will Rogers).

• Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber (Plato).

• Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river (Nikita Khrushchev).