- Like many gardeners, nature itself seems to have given up on the weeding. Whatever vegetation has survived this far extends out of control, taking over every vacant bit of light and moisture, yet hardly making a dent in the survival of any nearby plants. A glance at any exposed space would convince a neutral observer that this land is well on its way to becoming jungle. Unchecked, this growth would quickly return fields and towns to primal wilderness. But the season grows late ….
- Oppressive heat and humidity has many of us longing for the cooler breezes of autumn, of which we will tire of in turn. It is easy to forget how not long ago weather was a local matter of life and death, rather than a seasonal entertainment. Blizzards and floods could kill on vast scales; drought, heat, and cold could bring starvation; any extreme condition represented misery. Technological civilization insulates us from such intimate connections, which is on the whole better for everyone. I know it may all collapse, wilderness triumphing after all, but at this moment I am very content to be able to experience any meteorological inconveniences innocuously.
Streams of sweat drip sting my eyes.
I’m thirsty, heated, happy, slow
Watch gentle waves in absent wind
Nowhere to be, nothing to know
An empty bottle cast on shore
Residues of memory
Phantom dreams drift of our past
My contemplative lazy me
This cannot last, no worries, cares
Soon worlds of problems must appear
Tomorrow will _ but this is now
Sunshine seas erase my fears.
Beach nirvana, is it wise?
Or lotus-eater melody?
A stream of lassitude allowed
A moment to be fully free
- Exercising an innate capacity for appreciating beauty is a constant joy. Some approach it with exclusivity, as if true beauty is perfection in an imperfect world _ and consequently rare. Their primary ability becomes locating flaws great or small which mar that which they wish to experience. Others claim beauty is everywhere, even in trash and tragedy. They seek to adjust their perception to cast an enchantment on whatever exists.
- I am obviously prone to the latter. A glass of cool clear water is as satisfying and wonderful as a perfectly prepared cup of coffee or tea, although coffee and tea (however prepared) are also fine. Of course, I understand some things should be changed _ a house on fire may be majestically beautiful, but it should be extinguished. Trash on a beach may add ironic visual highlights, but should be removed. Overall, however, I exist in an environment much of which I cannot control nor modify except within myself. I prefer to find most of what I encounter there an echo of the harmony of the spheres.
Joan waves another fly into the onshore wind, as the muffled sound of a distant speedboat blends with thunder from an overhead low jet heading for landing thirty miles away. Waves sparkle below tree-greened horizons as families splash in bathtub-warm mid-tide.
“Not too many people, for such a hot day,” I break our silence.
“Well, it’s starting to get low and a little dirty. They probably don’t want to get an infection,” she replies.
“Oh, people like you are afraid of everything,” I chuckle. “I swim in all the tides, head under water, and nothing ever happened to me.”
“It will, sometime,” she notes darkly. “I heard on the news …”
“That’s the problem!” I break in. “That stupid news. Someone somewhere got an earache, someone somewhere drowned, someone somewhere always something. Zika, skin cancer, West Nile, paralyzing jellyfish, cataracts, and probably food poisoning from eating a popsicle from the ice-cream truck.”
“Well, things do happen to people, all the time,” she says in a reasonable tone. “We
need to be careful.”
need to be careful.”
“Compared to our ancestors, we are about as safe as it is possible to be,” I look around at well-fed folks lying half naked, protected by life guards, help a phone call away. “And yet everyone still worries. What if one of those backpacks explodes …”
“Don’t even think about it,” she grimaces.
“Fear of fear itself,” I mutter. More loudly, “Ready for another dip?” She nod’s agreement and we head down to water’s edge, challenging fate once again.
- Deep drought continues at lower soil levels, but the surface has been periodically refreshed with frequent thunderstorms and short downpours. Grass remains green, everything continues to grow. Nevertheless, the blooms of summer are quickly turning to seed, autumn flowers are showing, and all vacant areas have been overrun with massive bunches of ragweed and crabgrass. Summer remains in force, but is beginning to strain with the effort.
- I’ve already heard folks complaining about our protracted spell of sun and heat. What seems a perfect month or two to a few of us is wretched for others. Isn’t that too true about an awful lot of things these days, from food to entertainment to future hopes and fears? Such diversity of opinion is wonderful, as long as we can somehow manage to hold common ground, which is one thing that sometimes seems in question lately.
- “Let a thousand flowers bloom” is a nice sentiment, but ignores the fact that in the real world over 900 or so of those will be crowded out, withered, eaten or killed off in some other manner. What is left is magnificent, but nature remains ruthless.
- Since at least the time of the ancient Romans, each generation has produced a few people who miss the “good old days” of their fevered imaginations. According to them, the golden era has passed and these are degenerate and wretched times, with everyone (except them) too lazy, too coddled, too ignorant. I’ve been hearing a lot of this claptrap lately, starting with making us “great” again.
- I’m the first to admit I’ve led a fortunate life, and there are others who do live in eternal misery. I would never have chosen to be alive in any other era. Discoveries are happening daily, but there remains mystery in the world. We are overpopulating the planet, but there is still enough for most.
- As for purpose, which is frequently said to be missing, we’ve been doing all right. There have been no major wars for over fifty years, whole populations which would formerly have been starving are now fed and clothed. Everyone everywhere has hopes of a better future. All we need is to decide to clean up the environment and spread the wealth and that would provide purpose enough for quite a while.
- Glass half full? More like almost overflowing. And yet there are angry folks everywhere, and agitators who stir the pot, and even those who are obscenely wealthy think they are god’s gift to the world and why couldn’t everyone else just work hard like they did. I’ve gotten to the point where it is almost painful to listen to the news or read editorials.
- Days of brutal humid heat have kept much of the population safely hidden into air conditioning. No such luck for the outdoor flora and fauna. Lack of rain, air pollution, all the usual complaints of late summer. Meanwhile, everyone frantically realizes that regardless of how it feels, the season is drawing to a close. Panic to enjoy the last weeks has set in for boaters and other vacationers.
- I’ve been more or less confined to the house, not wishing to run into big box stores for relief. In some ways it is worse than cabin fever when blizzard-bound. Even the few times the temperature let me venture out to read on the patio, mosquitoes have quickly driven me back in. So I too am trying to throw off my recent lethargy and low spirits in a final summer fling of activity.