I write here from the garden this evening – the sounds of the chorus of cicadas swell in the trees, and make the whole world alive with sound.
The sun is setting, still bright at the edges, with small clouds like little golden fairy castles floating above the pines. It isn’t quite gloaming yet, but the golden afternoon has faded.
I can feel the waning of summer. The heat is thick and oppressive. Everything is tall and rank, beginning that slow drying shrivel along the edges that marks the lessening of life force, and the turning of the year.
I recall these days the beautiful words of Thomas Hardy:
Regret not me
Beneath the sunny tree
I lie uncaring slumbering peacefully.
Swift as the light
I flew my faery flight;
Ecstatically I moved, and feared no night.
I did not know
That heydays fade and go,
But deemed that what was would be always so…
It happens in such a glance – that change. The tip over the edge from height to descent. The things that seem so strong and steady, going always up and up – a little twist of the wheel of time and they are but crumbling echoes on a frosty night.
Life is so big and bright and full – it’s so easy to get caught up and tangled in the mess, forgetting how precious our every moment here is – and when it’s gone, there is nothing left but the dust of stars and the pull of a new beginning.
It’s easy to cling to life and it’s many rushing rivers and difficult eddies, forgetting that each moment is such a gift – here and now this throb of existence, the chance to look around at all we share this life with and laugh with joy. How much we love life and each other gets swallowed so easily by how complicated it is to live and survive.
O human, your heart matters. It is what sets you apart. What other creatures delight so much in companions of different species, or have spent so many centuries in the cultivation of how to tend and care? What other creatures delight in watching the dolphins, or snuggling kittens, or watering plants? It is the first motion of civilization – caring for crops and making companions from wild beasts. We must not forget to love and care.
And if you don’t hold on to the sweetness while it’s yours, it is lost forever, and nothing can bring it back.
So i am holding every second here in my heart, of this sunset fading to brilliant pink; to this sustaining garden, filled with strange and beautiful things; to the faces of my children, young and bright; to my own body no longer young but fading into age. You have to drink in the sweetness while it lasts, and love all of it from the bottom of your heart.
In this wild, jungly season the insects thrive. Beetles, rolly bugs, bees, huge roaches, and the lovely butterflies, as well as the formidable stink bugs and the assassin bugs.
Huge orb weaver spiders, suspended from golden webs, adorn my kitchen eaves. I was stung by a scorpion folding the towels off the line last week, and a cow pie barely falls to earth before the dung beetles burrow in.
I try to work these days – i really do. I write myself lists to accomplish of what needs planted, weeded, etc, but as soon as i tiptoe across the pumpkin vines cluttering the front and see the cockscomb and the cosmos, drifting with butterflies, the spell of the garden is upon me, and i drift, insensible, marveling at the iridescent bees and grunching out strangling weeds, until somehow it’s past lunch time and everyone is starving.
The colors and smells and flavors, so intense and spicy and strong, are intoxicating.
I have so much beautiful basil in the garden right now. Many kinds – but pictured is the dark opal basil, the lettuce leaf basil, and my very favorite – lime basil.
I never grew lime basil until last year, and fell in love. One nibble and you feel as though you are eating a lemon candy. You can make sweet chutney, add it to water for a wonderful drink, or cook it with poultry and seafood.
A little recipe for lime basil pesto:
2 small spice/paprika peppers (optional)
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup lime basil leaves
2 tablespoons lemon, lime, or sour citrus juice
3 tablespoons of butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Slice and de-seed the peppers.
2. Put all other ingredients in a blender and blend to desired consistency. I left mine a little chunky. Great on fish or with chicken or sea food.
Wishing you a beautiful weekend.