At the end of the day, what was left of the sun splintered into pale pink and bronze spots of light. Bits of sky angled past the foliage, down to the the creek, and bounced back from the still water with the same soft hues.
I’ve never been to Paris. Or Rome, or Hawaii. But … I have looked up from a spot near the end of the beach to see the Milky Way, suspended across the sky on a dark and moonless night.
On the last day of June, I took an evening walk along a trail through the woods. All around me, here and there, I saw flimsy wildflowers like the ones in these pictures. They grew along the path. And, in the distance, there were pockets under the trees, out in the deeper parts of the woods. You’ve probably seen them where you are too, in the woods or along a road. It was already sundown and the light was fading when I noticed them. Small bright forms out there among the dark green tones of the forest.
Do you remember those little tree spirits from Princess Mononoke? The Kodama? Bright, almost glowing. Tiny, almost shapeless. Cute, but almost creepy. Odd wide-eyed creatures perched high on the tree limbs and lined up along the mossy grounds of a Great Forest that existed centuries ago, somewhere in the ancient folklore of Japan.
My mind wanders when I write. That’s a long way from Paris.
Photographed June 30, 2020
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They may not be used elsewhere or reblogged.
Please visit my other blog, Clover & Ivy, https://cloverandivy.wordpress.com.
I post mostly nature photos there.
When rain has
hung the leaves with tears,
I want you near
to kill my fears,
to help me to leave all my blues behind.
in your heart is where
I want to be
and long to be.
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind
~ Catch the Wind, Donovan ~
photographed june 20, 2020
A guy and a gal stood over a rose bush, heads together, and it appeared to be a serious conversation. After a few minutes, the young woman walked away. The fellow leaned over a bit and spoke to the rose, “Now try to be good.”
That was Fall 2019.
I returned last week. The nursery is out in the open, not attached to a big store, and I decided it would be safe enough wearing a mask, etc., and I could get everything I need in one trip. Approaching, it looked familiar in a good way. Going to the nursery is a fun chore. Most years I go more than I need to. But this was different. It wasn’t just the masks. We’re all getting used to that, aren’t we? But it’s the little details in life we hardly notice until they’re not there.
They had fewer plants, but enough. They were arranged and sorted. It was pretty, prettier than the grocery store, but not lush and indulgent like it usually is. Some of the plants needed watering. Flowers on vines grew into each other so the plant containers were inseparable. Price signs were here and there and not always in the right places. Ceramic fountains were dry and empty, except for a bit of left over rain water. You didn’t have to mind the wet cement or hoses scattered around, because no one was watering. The cashier was moved outside, and I could see a few staff out in the distance, away from customers and tables.
They were making the best of what they could do, but you couldn’t help but think what was missing. And who was missing. Nurseries hire people who love plants. People who enjoy caring for plants, watering, arranging tables so plants look their best. Rainbowed rows of colors. Roses spaced just so. If you didn’t like plants, that kind of job wouldn’t work out.
I guess in the grand scheme of things, none of this matters. If I didn’t start this draft last week, I probably wouldn’t write it today. With the perspective of shocking, almost inhuman events, my common lackluster experiences fall in the category of ‘unworthy of notice’. Yet, the summer moves from repetitive to boring to depressing to scary, and now to horrific, and we wonder how to make sense of it all.
This is about Rose. I knew Rose all my life, minus the first five or so years, which I don’t remember very well. Rose, like her husband, was a second generation American. Their parents came from Italy.
She was small, a little over five feet, and pretty. Even when she was old, almost ninety, she was still pretty. Her hair turned from red to white, but her face was pretty and smiling. I see it now. Rose was probably the sweetest, kindest, nicest, most energetic, hard working, generous, human being I’ve known. I’m thinking, I’m thinking. Yeah, she was all those. You can probably think of some other ‘nice’ adjectives, and those would fit too. Her husband called her Rosy.
In the summer Rose and her husband spent a lot of time in the back yard. They sat there in the evenings with a glass of wine. Sometimes they played cards. It wasn’t a big area, a little bit of grass backed up to a tall hill covered with trees. And nestled at the bottom of the hillside a statue of the Blessed Mother. Everything about the space back there felt old country. It made you feel like you have nothing to do in life but sit, laugh, tell a story, and take it all in. There was a square wooden porch/deck attached to the house, and a screen door that took you right into her kitchen. I know, because I’ve been through that door. The last time was after my mother died and Rose called me in to see her new living room furniture. There are parts of us that just don’t grow up, and I thought at the time if I couldn’t still have my mother, I wanted Rose to be my proxy mother.
Rose was in the middle of making anise flavored cookies. She asked me if I was hungry, if she could get me some pasta. I don’t remember what kind, some gnocchi or whatever. She made her own, of course. There was no Mueller’s in that house. And it seemed to me she whipped up home-made pasta as easily as I whip up a sandwich or bowl of cereal. I’m probably exaggerating, but not too much. Picture the wood block countertop covered with flour, some chopping implements, and bowls and cooking ingredients scattered here and there. Old appliances. That was her kitchen.
Oh, and there’s the flowers. Tall bright colored flowers all around the metal fence in her front yard. Hanging baskets on her tiny front porch. Flowers up and down the side of her house. Flowers on the deck, flowers in the backyard. She loved her flowers, and they loved her back. Rose was well into her eighties and she would weed and fuss with her flowers the same way she did when she was thirty.
I thought about Rose yesterday, and this flower’s for Rose.
photograph from may 19, 2020
Sometimes I sit out back in the dark
at the end of a depressing day,
and it’s quiet,
nothing but me and the quiet.
Sometimes I see stars shining up there, far past the trees.
I don’t see stars.
Just the tops of tall trees and past them nothing.
Nothing but gray skies.
Sometimes I look up and see a flicker.
Or I imagine a flicker.
Like a firefly?
It’s too soon, isn’t it?
I remember the 4th of july when fireflies lit up those trees
like some kind of magic.
Like the magic that’s only real in memories.
Sometimes sitting in the dark listening to the quiet makes me think.
photograph from may 23, 2020
Summertime, the song.
And Janis Joplin. Yes, in the crazy summer of 2020, it has to be Janis Joplin. It’s an old (1934) Gershwin song, covered over and over, so there are lots of versions out there. I don’t know if it’s technically the blues, but when Janis sings it, I think it’s the blues. She opens her mouth, and she holds nothing back. There’s sorrow and there’s anguish, and there’s no attempt to pretty it up.
I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t single out Ella Fitzgerald’s version too. It’s subdued, it’s fluid, it’s definitely jazz. You can feel the heat of a sweltering August night when the windows are open and the air is still. And Ella’s voice is soft and silky and soothing in all the ways Janis’s is ragged and desperate. Despite my opening, I suspect Ella Fitzgerald captures the mood as well as anyone can. It just might make you cry.
Summertime by George Gershwin, DuBose Heyword, and Ira Gershwin. Give it a a try.