Right again. After some thought, I’ve proved myself, as usual, to be an able and accurate prognosticator. As usual, as the fireworks explode on the Fourth of July, I announce to the world (is any body listening?) that summer is over, and sure enough, with the sun sinking toward yet another winter solstice and its hope for the future, we have first to go through weeks and months of nature’s decline.
If the whole world were temperate in climate such observations might be more meaningful. Still, science itself confirms the data as a metaphor for much of human experience. Demeter and her daughter Persephone illustrate these seasonal fluctuations as they take their turns in and out of the Underworld. Like us the Greeks imagined that their whole world experienced the seasons, night and day, birth and death in pretty much the same way as they always have– a little delight in the change and a little worry about the possibilities of bad luck in the weather department.
The garden demonstrates its adherence to nature’s demands–phlox are blooming; clematis has dropped most of its petals to carpet the path under the trellis, cucumbers hug the fence, pretty much what one might expect on the first of August. The beautiful wedding of Alexa and Justin simply put the punctuation on the whole concept, a moment of fruition, of great beauty, of expectations for the future.
I’m noticing the shadows getting a little longer, and I have noticed that all of us have been slowing down a little. It may be a matter of mentally taking it easy; Betsy’s walks with Teddy are meanders; Jack takes time from his various jobs to look for squirrels. He just got one with his air rifle and since the squirrel and his friends and relatives are making every attempt to steal our pears, we feel justified in taking harsher methods of controlling them than just yelling at them to leave our pears alone. These brown skinned pears are absolutely as good as the squirrels think they are. They hang in great profusion, like bells, from the tree, giving the impression of yet more blessings from the goddess. Last year we made jars of pear butter in the slow cooker. The process created wonderful, winy smells and caused us to have it on pancakes the very next day.
It’s a matter of poetry, probably for us to report on the extraordinary peace that wells up from just about every blade of grass, every seed head stiffening in the late sun, while down south the heat boils up from tarmac and concrete and even the dry fields that crack deeply in the heat of this terrible sun. Chuck is down there somewhere, I think, on his bicycle and I wonder if he remembers he was twenty about forty years ago, that the years that have passed since then have probably taken their toll. Are you carrying plenty of water? Are you wearing a helmet? He pretends that he takes care of himself according to all the rules. I want to believe him, but no matter what the season, always the mother, I fear for his safety.
Now, as it happens, Chuck has called from a town named Mayberry to tell me that he is safe and sound after crossing sixty miles of desert. He believes they must have invented the town to supply bike riders with the water they are desperately in need of. He is traveling Highway 40 (my old favorite) where there are regular resting shelters for, as he says, “foolish people like me”. It seems strange to be writing about this while a thunder storm carries on in all its powerful emotions, and while I’m trying to think what it would be like for Chuck, like with the sun beating down my back on the sidewalk and I’m cracking an icy can of Bud.
What’s next indeed? It’s an afternoon fraught with change and surprise. At five o’clock now we have all the lights on, but outside my back window the black eyed susans have gathered up whatever sunshine they can catch through the heavy cloud cover and reflect it back at me thereby becoming an actual Sunflower, aglow. The deer have been after the tomatoes, but the fennel is going to serve us very well. The stock market has risen, sunk, risen again. Blame is laid, lifted, laid again. Boys go off to war. It’s said they died for their country. Do they really? Or do they just hope that if they die it will be for their country, because if it isn’t the case then, well, what’s the point? And don’t forget the chickens. This bunch is back on the patio, doing their dirty work. But isn’t that it? There’s my blue nail polish that matches my eyes and there’s the chicken poop on the patio. You tell me, How can we put all this together?