August Beauty

Monday

Spicebush at Caumsett smells infinitely better than it looks, and it looks pretty good.
  • In August, I wallow in mature beauty.  Spring is crystalline promise, but late summer provides perfect culmination.  We can enjoy all possible masterpieces completed.  Early flowers may be gone, but their fruits continue to be displayed.  Leaves do not yet show inevitable decay.  Animal young flourish as they rapidly grow to prepare for winter.
  • It seems a good time to just sit back in appreciative sloth.   Of course, most times are like that for an old guy like me, but August has its own relaxing potion filled with slow flavor.  The world just is, marvelous and amazing.  A time to almost forget what it was, what it will be, what might happen.  Existence on most August afternoons simply could not be improved.

Tuesday

Centerport children’s summer camp echoes with laughter beyond the tidal flats as life goes on.
  • Painting landscapes has never paid well.  Before photographs and movies, artists were paid to either capture portraits or to provide entertaining drama (like the Sistine Chapel.)  Seascapes were either backgrounds, or thrilling illustrations of dangerous moments. 
  • Perhaps that is because it is so easy to appreciate open natural magnificence.  It hardly requires specialized training to be entranced by mountains, plains, or rolling ocean breakers.  Nature helps by allowing each of thousands of viewers at a given location to focus on a thousand different things, something for everyone. 
  • At the beach I happily gaze at sailboats along far shores, or sparkles on the wave.  My wife watches children nearby frolic in sand and tide.  When I was young, I eagerly scanned young women against the spotless sky.  Tomorrow, should I return, it will all be different.  But just as common, just as normal, just as rewarding, just as spectacular. 

Wednesday

Grasses ripen almost invisibly in various nooks along a high stone seawall.
  • A rose is a rose…
  • A rose is also several trillion cells working together to impress my several trillion cells and trillions of companion bacteria.

Thursday

St. Anne’s Lace begins the ongoing parade of late flowers which murmur summer’s passing.
  • We rush about, doing almost anything to prove we have existed.  Take a photo, talk to someone else, build or wreck something around us.  Industrial culture is a culture of doing.  Dig a ditch, fill it in.  Prove your day has been well used.
  • I’m not completely sold on frantically merchandised varieties of meditation, but anything which slows us down is a good idea.   Just as important are attitudes which allow us to feel accomplishment without affecting an external artifact.
  • I spend more time sitting and looking deeply, pause for a moment to engage with a bee or flower or cloud.  Stop in the middle of a meal or a walk to appreciate my exact point in being.  The young laugh and claim I am making a virtue of necessity.  Perhaps that is so.

Friday

Perennial Hibiscus amazes us each year with such grand reward for so little garden effort.
  • There are many kinds of snobbism, as varied as people’s beliefs.  Some, for example, dismiss cultivated flowers as less impressive than native ones, no matter how they look.  Others refuse to enjoy anything which is too common, or too easy to enjoy.  “Oh,” they exclaim, “that’s just a cheap variety of red rose.”
  • A newspaper story recently queried some “floral professionals” on flowers they claim to hate, and as might be expected, the answers were always common flowers that everyone else loves most.  How otherwise could they maintain that their own expertise is valuable? 
  • But I love whatever blooms I can find this month, after the midsummer annuals have gone to seed.  If the hibiscus and rose of Sharon and geraniums march on in brilliant beauty only with human help, I am content.  It is just as much a mistake to pretend people are not part of the environment as it is to ignore our environment entirely.

Saturday

Marigolds compete with kayaks on our misty public beach, a scene which will probably vanish within twenty years.
Shadow from a hulking twitchy young man falls on a woman lounging back in a beach chair.  Gulls fight for bread which small children throw at them.  “Hey Mom, doing nothing again, I see,” he laughs roughly.
“Ah, Justin, this is just so beautiful and perfect.  You should try it sometime …”
“Waste of time, beauty, What good is it?  What is beauty anyway?”
“Deep questions from you?  I guess college has broadened your mind more than I thought.  You guys get into heated discussions like this over beer at the bar?”
“Not hardly!” he exclaims.  “But we have one teacher … Anyway, I’m sure you can’t answer the question.”
She thinks a moment.  “Well, whatever it is, I think it requires variety and change.  And people.  You’ll never convince me a bird or dog experiences beauty.”
“Is that all?” he snarks.
“Enough.  Anything more just gets muddy.  But this, right now, is beautiful.  Now, Justin, you sit down right here and tell me everything that is happing with you.”
“Aw, Mom.”  In resignation, he flops on the towel next to her and begins his story.

The gulls flop off to panhandle further down the sand.

Sunday

Fish clustering in thousands at head of harbor presumably trying to advance up streams that have been dammed.
August moon fills harvest songs
But now we harvest all year long
Summer sand and beach once rare
We visit year round through the air
I take for granted all my days
Hardly note late summer haze
My mind as emptied as the sky

August simply rushes by

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