Dried Narcissus

Spring Narcissus fade before summer

It’s official, summer is over. The garden is telling me so. Plump and bright is wasting into tattered yellow-green. What’s not yellowing is soil-colored and either brittle or lacy, like ancient and broken crochet. The sun is still brilliant most days, which are warm and often delicious. That was yesterday, one of those “most of everything” days with storybook sky, clean, perfectly heated air with a wonderful scent of roses (in my yard, not on that dim stretch of 35th street that serves as Macy’s service alley and is my conduit to the train that takes me home each evening).

Very early in spring, the Japanese tree peony offers huge yellow blooms for about a minute. Less if the rain is hard. I call her glory.

I have an old friend, who is dying, and his spectacular life, while enjoyed by a relatively small circle of family and friends, reminds me of my garden. Yeah, I know–a well-worn analogy–but perfectly suitable to this humble reflection. I’m slow to accept the inevitable creep of autumn and the following cold. I remain furious that the wild beauty of my garden is fading. No. Not fading but violently tumbling back into the earth. The last flowers have dropped fromĀ Hemerocallis (daylily) and I view that as a personal insult.

Each spring bursts and blossoms and promises me all sorts of joys. Summer courts and conquers. My relationship with the outdoors will be over with the ripening of cool weather vegetables. I get cranky and hide indoors.

I don’t like the end of summer. I don’t want my friend to die. I hate that the Hosta leaves shred and the mint grows leggy and sparse. At this moment, I reject all attempts at making me see the good side of things. Yes, I have memories, yes the garden will set seed for a glorious next spring. Yes, yes, yes.

But that spent flower, still and tightly closed, lying next to the big grey pot on the side porch? It’s dead even though the sky is bright blue and the billowy white cloud puffs that show off the blue inspire daydreams of shapes, ships and poetry. That flower is done. And I mourn it

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Leo, calm before the drams

Leo, calm before the drama

The house is growing quiet, the murmuring kitchen radio and the uneven noise of the TV say “night.” My husband laughs. Midnight in Paris, I think, a Woody Allen movie. My daughter is spread out under a comforter on the sofa, annoyed that she missed the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. I’m shielded by my laptop and the song in my head: “Let’s do it, let’s fall in love…” Pippi is tightly curled by my left hip–my left elbow gently nudges his neck ruff and I can hear and feel his breathing. Pippi is the smallest of my cats, and I’m hopelessly fond of him. He was sleeping so soundly, snoring punctuated by little stilted purrs, that I poked him until he awoke. It’s my opinion that every sleeping creature is dead and the only thing that will convince me otherwise is to wake them. Pippi is sleeping again and I leave him be for now, except for my elbow.

Today I took a lot of pictures of Leo. He was romancing a small round end table, its tattered cloth and a fat glass vase packed with hydrangea. I thought that he might knock the vase off the table but that thought was behind the one that kept the camera in my hands. My phone buzzes, disturbing the soft aspect of the quiet. I answer, stopping my keystrokes and breaking my mood mid-sentence.

I’m resuming in a new paragraph. I’m in a different room, with another radio. Schubert. Art song. The voice of the air conditioner–at least that’s what it sounds like to me. The radio sits under the air conditioner and fights for sound space. A duet between Bose and Haier. The voices in my head are growing cool. August night, good night.

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