With the One True Wife out of town for the weekend, and the week ahead featuring no rain in the forecast, I thought I'd better turn my attention to the garden this morning.
And the lawn. Over the decade or so that we've lived here, we've removed about one third of the lawn and replaced it with annuals, perennials, ground cover -- everything native and hearty and esthetically pleasing that we could find.
Today is almost as beautiful as yesterday: a little warmer and more humid, but still a benign day, with a gentle breeze, a light cloud cover, a softening of the heat due to the cool waters of nearby Lake Michigan. What's different this summer is the eerie, intergalactic hum of the 17-year cicadas. They emit a sound like a ray-gun in a '50s sci-fi thriller. They also chew into delicate branches, so they can lay their eggs in the cracks. As a result, dozens of twigs have rained down on the lawn, the streets and sidewalks.
I watered everything and stood there, smelling the grateful exhalations of the green grass and the black earth.
Then I watered the dozens of plants in the house. They, too, seemed to sigh with relief.
Sometimes I feel as though I can sense the personality of every living thing. Every animate object proclaims itself, all the time. You just have to pay attention.
There are whole metropolitan areas of insect life, made up of intersecting neighborhoods of different kinds of ants, moths, flies, bees, dragonflies, mosquitoes and beetles. There are quirreling squirrels and solipsistic chipmunks and dozens of different kinds of birds, passing each other on their way to work. I dodge a pile of poop from -- what? -- a skunk, a raccoon, a possum. A burgeoning family of rabbits lives under the big pine tree just off the patio. With few foxes and only the occasional desperate coyote in the neighborhood, life is good for rabbits in these parts. (I accidentally typed "rabbis." I suppose that's true, too.)
Last night, Gabe, Middle Daughter and I watched Freedom Writers. I highly recommended it for those who have no hope for our inner cities. OK, it's a Hollywood take on a real story -- but there is a real story behind it.
And also medicinal for those feeling hopeless is a walk in the yard. Any yard will do. Life is almost as omnipresent and tireless as death. If you despair, get out there, and water something, and listen to the sighs of relief from the lives you've nourished. Enjoy the space you've carved into the world for yourself. Enjoy sharing it with the tiny sparks of life that fly and scramble by.
Then gird your loins. Tomorrow is Monday.