Nothing Left to Do

dryaugust

 

dryhydrangea

 

Toward the end of August I begin to dream about fall, how
this place will empty of people, the air will get cold and
leaves begin to turn. Everything will quiet down, everything
will become a skeleton of its summer self. Toward

the end of August I get nostalgic for what’s to come, for
that quiet time, time alone, peace and stillness, calm, all
those things the summer doesn’t have. The woodshed is
already full, the kindling’s in, the last of the garden soon

will be harvested, and then there will be nothing left to do
but watch fall play itself out, the earth freeze, winter come.
~David Budbill “Toward the End of August” from Tumbling Toward the End.

 

 

 

weed9715

 

I dream now of fall, wanting this stubborn summer to flame out, to leave its bare bones behind.  The last few weeks have been particularly cruel with wildfires, hurricanes, drought, sweltering heat, and flooding rains.  As if nature is not damaging enough, humanity continues to threaten humanity with local and global violence and threats of annihilation, while hundreds of thousands of refugees migrate from one poor country into even poorer countries in search of some semblance of hope and security for a safe future.

Anxiety and despair seem appropriate responses in the face of so much tragedy – they take root like weeds in a garden patch– overwhelming, crowding out and impairing all that is fruitful.  The result is nothing of value grows–only unchecked proliferation of more weeds. My worry and anguish help no one and changes nothing, serving only to hinder me from being fruitful.

It shouldn’t take bad news and disaster to remind me of what I already know:
I am not God and never will be.  He tends the garden and He pulls the weeds when the time is right.

His harvest is at hand.  Either I’m fruit or weed.

Acknowledging this is everything.  There is nothing left to do but watch as it plays itself out.

 

weedybarn

 

twinlayers

 

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Rabbit-Light

wildbunny3

 

redsun2

 

The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—

….and August the most peaceful month.

To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;

You become a self that fills the four corners of
night.
~Wallace Stevens, from “A Rabbit As King of the Ghosts”

 

treesunset73117

August brims with fullness in need of emptying –
a spilling over of light and sun and heat.

With so much of everything in mid-summer,
I welcome relief
in a cool whiff of a misty morning.

Even my rabbit-light fur
is beginning to darken and in-fill
in anticipation of long dark winter days.

Like the pulsing vessels
in twitching transparent ears,
both warming and cooling,
I will fill the empty spaces.

mistymorning28917

mistymorning38917

 

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No Hurry

Scout and Atticus

Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning; ladies bathed before noon, after their 3 o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go and nothing to buy… and no money to buy it with.
Harper Lee (Scout narrating at the beginning of To Kill A Mockingbird)

After several days of upper 90’s temperatures, I have greater understanding for the slower moving pace of the south and other warm environs.  There is not much that can be easily accomplished in humid heat other than staying in the shade and sweating.  Cats sprawl like furry puddles on the ground.   Dogs drip with their panting.  Horses have sweat marks under their manes.   And people are soft teacakes with frosting.

Those unfortunate places where the temperatures don’t drop much at night must really slow down to a crawl as attempting to sleep in a puddle of perspiration is just like constant menopause.

So we get a taste of it just to remind us what so much of the world lives with all the time, with air conditioning still being rare almost everywhere except the most fortunate affluent folk.  We are meant to slow down in the summer, stop hurrying, just melt and bathe and nap and simply be.

We usually complain about how fast time passes.  Summer is surely the necessary remedy.

 
"What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance." 
--Jane Austen

Listening to the Vetch

vetch

Hot humid summer days are barely tolerable for a temperate climate sissy pants like me.  I am melting even as I get up in the morning, and right now our house is two degrees warmer (93 degrees) than the out of doors.  So distractions from the heat are more than welcome.

For me today it started as I drove the ten miles of country roads to get to work in town, running a bit late to an important meeting.  I was listening to the news on the car radio when I puzzled over why the radio station would be playing cat meows over the news.  I turned off the radio, and realized the meows didn’t go away.

As soon as I was able, I pulled into a parking lot and surveyed my van from back to front, looking under seats, opened the back, scratched my head.  Then the meowing started again—under the hood.  I struggled with the latch, lifted up the hood and a distressed bundle of kitten fur hurtled out at me, clinging all four little greasy paws to my shirt.  Unscathed except for greasy feet, this little two month old kitten had survived a 50 mile per hour ride for 20 minutes, including several turns and stops.  He immediately crawled up to my shoulder, settled in by my ear, and began to purr.  I contemplated showing up at a meeting with a kitten and grease marks all over me, vs. heading back home with my newly portable neck warmer.  I opted to call in with the excuse “my cat hitchhiked to work with me this morning and is thumbing for a ride back home” and headed back down the road to take him back to the barn where he belongs, now with the new name “Harley” because he clearly desires the open road.

At that point, my meeting in town was already completed without me so I went out to check fence line as the hot wire seemed to be shorting out somewhere in the pasture as the mares had decided that the wire interfered with their hearts’ desire and had broken through, so it clearly was not hot enough to discourage them.  It has been a very hot few days with persistent drying breezes this afternoon so as I approached the fence line, I heard numerous snaps and pops that I interpreted as hot wire shorting out in the dry grass and weeds, creating a fire hazard and certainly potentially dangerous with the winds whipping up.  I walked closer and was really puzzled to hear snaps all up and down the fence, but could not see sparks.  I approached more closely and heard a little “snap” and a tiny seed pod burst open in front of my eyes, dropping its contents very effectively.  It was the dried common vetch seed pods that were snapping and popping, not hot wire shorting out.  They were literally exploding all up and down the fenceline in a reproductive symphony of seed release.  I put the broken wire back to together, plugged it in and all was well, at least until the next Haflinger decides the adjacent pasture looks better.

Returning to the barn,  I saw our stallion pawing furiously at his round black rubber water tub in his paddock, splashing water everywhere and creating quite a spectacle.  I went up to him to refill the tub with the hose and he continued to paw and splash in the tub and actually went down on his knees in the tub and then tried to lower one shoulder into it and his neck and face.  By this time he had created quite a mud puddle of the thick dust around the tub and his splashing and thrashing was causing mud to fly everywhere, including all over me, my hair, covering his mane and tail and belly and legs.  I took the hose and sprayed the cold water over him and he leaned closer to me, begging me to spray him everywhere, turning around so I could do his other side, facing me so I could spray his face.  I drenched him completely, and he was one happy horsie and I was laughing my head off at what he had done to me.  Both drenched, muddy, dirty, but happy and much much cooler.  What a sight we were.  This is the Haflinger that hesitates sometimes at water hazards on the cross country courses because he wants to splash and play in it.

This was a hot day on the farm indeed but with plenty else to occupy my mind.  It is never dull here.

Remember to bang on your car hood before you get in, keep the hotwire hot, and share a mud bath with your Haflinger. But especially, listen to the vetch and don’t let it fool you that catastrophe is about to happen.  The vetch is simply exploding in noisy reproductive ecstasy.  It doesn’t get much better than that.