Good Old Summertime


Our lilies this year are an advertisement for the bulb company from whom we purchase them.  I’m a sucker during bad winter weather for the lovely color catalogs of impossible floral magnificence.  But in this case, at least, my efforts and money are well rewarded.  Right now, especially in gardens, there is a lot of magnificence to choose from.

Elsewhere in the world it is Bastille Day.  The only fireworks here will be strong thunderstorms, but they have their own seasonal charm.  This is one of the finest times of the year, when the trimming and weeding are pretty much under control, the annuals are planted and thriving (or not), and everything is doing what it must do regardless of my intervention.  A good time to sit back and simply enjoy being alive, which is what everyone tries to do.

Just relaxed summertime beauty.  Wonderful moments occur in all seasons, but in this climate in mid-July it is easy to feel one with a benevolent world, and to meditate on how right everything is.  There seems to be little reason to worry about the future, nor to dwell on the past.  Except for an occasional mosquito, nothing breaks our reverie.  Even a storm rain-drop can be welcome, just for the change of pace.

Purists would argue that if this harbor were wilderness still it would be more intense and profound.  There should be no place for docks and boats and roses.  What nature and god provided is always better than anything blighted by the hand of humanity.  I obviously do not agree.  I think our conscious interaction with the universe, our appreciation of being, our unique happiness is the great gift we bring to the cosmos, and we are right to cultivate it and to manipulate the environment _ at least somewhat _ to make it more accessible.

View across the lawn of a long-time neighbor at the bottom of our hill.  Like Joan, he grew up in the house he now owns _ in fact a lot of the homes around here tend to be kept in the family.  It is easy to see why, with views like this (although his is probably the best.)

The huge beech tree in the front yard seems immortal, but it requires constant attention and we worry about it during every increasingly violent storm, blizzard, and hurricane.  I suppose he worries a lot more.  The trouble is, of course, that nothing is as permanent as it seems.  Up here near us, an equivalent beech dating from the time of the Revolution suddenly up and died for no apparent reason over a few seasons.  Probably old age, which reminds us of our own mortality in what seems to be our infinite daily existence.

Classic.  Pine needles sweeping down, tranquil water, empty mind.  Anywhere with such possibilities seems more open to contemplation than, say, a bus stop on a busy street.  Of course, after about five or ten minutes, most of us modern Americans might start to prefer the bus stop. 
We are hardly culturally adapted to sit still with “nothing to do” for very long.

I find I must always force myself to pause.  Much of life must be passed nearly unconscious of local surroundings, as we are concerned with plans and worries and where we are going and what must be done.  It is impossible to survive without spending most of your time doing that, unless you are very fortunate or unfortunate in life with no need to strive and do other’s bidding.  Even now, in retirement, I am too concerned with what I am thinking or what’s next.  So I try to pause and count slowly to twenty, and take a little while to appreciate the glory of the world which can always be found around us.



Now is the heyday of the “old reliable weeds” that pop up all over where people don’t want them.  The various members of the compositae family.  One would think that it would be easier to change our aesthetic judgments than to change the world, but people don’t think like that.  A plant like this in a garden is an invasive pest.

A perfect part of summer, on a gorgeous day, with little to do.  I am free as any eleven year old used to be, with a world to enjoy and explore and endless opportunities for self-discovered entertainment.  At such times, I often believe I have been the most fortunate person who ever existed.

Field bindweed is the bane of gardeners around here.  It is impossible to eradicate, once it gets a hold in any corner it will, if unchecked, rapidly cover everything else in a thick mat of vines, and no matter how often you weed it out, it pops back in strength within days.  It is not only an invader, but an entire occupation force at the same time.  It is only slightly compensated for by having flowers that are quite pretty, in their morning-glory way.

I guess here I should throw in some analogy to human affairs.  Like the biblical “wheat and tares together sown.”  But this morning, I think it is enough to just regard what “is.”  Everything need not be a signature, omen, example, nor trigger to greater truth.  More profoundly than all the interrelations we may construct in our fertile minds, everything in our universe just “is,” and we should also appreciate that fact. 



Like some relic of an antediluvian age, this little pocket park sits quietly squeezed between commercial buildings, not exactly neglected but in need of repairs along the waterfront.  Having nothing exotic and special about it, the space is extremely underutilized.  Undoubtedly eventually an enterprising town manager will “improve” it tremendously with a children’s playground or some other grand gesture, and thereby ruin the current ambience.

There are those who fight updating and modernization in any form fiercely, seeking to preserve patrimony.  Others are ripping into the future, leaving behind the blighted past.  Balance is impossible, because the one thing that cannot be achieved is some kind of rule-bound tension concerning past and future.  That is, after all, reserved for the actual present, which obeys no rules and simply is what it is.



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