Monday, July 27, 2009

A Taste of Heaven

I take all my houseplants outdoors for their summer vacation; all, except one--the hoya or wax plant. It continues to hang under a skylight in the solarium, its vines nearly touching their toes to the floor.

The upside-down umbrella of pale pink waxy star-shaped flowers neatly interlock with one another. Each pale pink star is centered with a white star which has a perfect tiny red flower at its center and in the center of the red, a tiny white tongue secretes one clear drop of sweet syrup. Touch your tongue to it for a taste of ambrosia, mildly flavored by the hoya's perfume.

That's the real reason i keep it indoors in the summer. When i walk into the house at night, it smells like i've walked into heaven.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day-long Lilies

Our friends who have a spectacular day-lily garden come for dinner and bring an Easter basket filled with a collection of today's blooms. I try to name the colors--lemon peel yellow, brick red, tangerine, plum, peach, cream.

After dinner, while we're talking in the living room, i rearrange the single flowers to see the effect of their colors. A petal comes loose.

"Eat it," says Frank.

Mmmm. Nice crisp texture with a slightly perfumy taste.

"Are they in water?" my sweetie asks with concern.

"No," says Claire. "They just last a day. Tomorrow morning they'll be compost."

I am of the nature to die. Death is unavoidable--for day-lilies whose life span is a single day or for me. Death is certain, but unlike the day-lilies, the time of my death is uncertain.

As we talk about children and grandchildren, i continue to finger the day-lilies. The triple peach has the sweetest fragrance. The grape-colored six-pointed star measures eight inches across, while its tiny plum-colored cousin with recurved petals is demurely petite by comparison.

When Frank and Claire leave, i send their basket home with them and scatter the loose blossoms on the kitchen table. The floral funeral will come at dawn.

Farewell to My Spading Fork

Prying some brick-red daylilies out of the ground with my spading fork, the D-shaped handle breaks clean off the wooden shaft. My best gardening friend for the past 29 years--the one that has given me many an aching back as well as so much joy--that friend's spine is broken.

I take its mud-encrusted tines to Brown & Roberts--our locally-owned hardware store--and ask them to put on a new D-handle. The clerk shakes his head and compares prices: a new fork $22.98, a new wooden handle $15.98. I see him glancing at the bent tines, their metal polished to a dull gleam by grinding against numberless rocks. He pronounces the death of my good friend who has spent every spring standing near the vegetable garden, calling me to come out and play.

Everything i cherish will change and vanish is the fourth of the Five Daily Recollections. I place my cherished friend next to the trash bag that's going to vanish into the dumpster tomorrow.

Farewell, my dear.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I'm crawling around the vegetable garden on my hands and knees so i can get a better look at a little brown bird that is sitting on top of a fence post and singing his heart out to the four directions. Miraculously he sits and sings till i'm crouching among the bush beans and close enough to gaze at him.

He stops singing and preens himself unself-consciously, spreading his wing feathers like i clean between my toes. Then he just sits and watches. I hear the hum of bees and see one rolling around in a nearby poppy. Gnat-size blackflies hover near my face. I hear the zoom of a hummingbird nearby.

I say the new Appreciative Joy phrases i learned at a recent meditation retreat.
"How wonderful you are in your being.
I delight that you are here."

This nondescript little brown bird IS wonderful. My heart swells, drinking in the summer late afternoon. Then the plain brown bird puffs out his breast and sings to the west. He hops around and sings to the east.

Each in our own way, we are both suffusing our world with joy.

Friday, July 3, 2009


After yoga class, i dawdle in front of the bulletin board, reading announcements as i put on my raincoat. Next to the bulletin board hangs a rack of cards and brochures advertising vision quests, massage, reiki, and music therapy.

And then my gardener's eye catches sight of a plain black-on-white card:
  • Gardening
  • Pruning
  • Reflexology
  • Hand Massage
  • Clear Spaces
Mel Long, 254-0339

I reach out and take all 12 cards and put them in my pocket.

I really do need to find someone to prune my crabapple trees.

Two years ago, i took photos of Mel Long ensconced in the bare branches of my pink crabapple tree, looking like an elf. Despite the chilly November weather, Mel spent two hours in--and i do mean "in"--each of my four trees. She really wanted those photos and called a couple of times to make sure i'd sent them to her friend's e-mail account since she herself didn't have one.

Just a year ago, i opened the Monday paper to read that Melinda Long, age 61, had died in a head-on collision Saturday afternoon.

"Right after Farmer's Market," i thought to myself, where Mel shared a booth and gave hand massages.

I finger the little stack of cards in my pocket and gaze at the now-empty, cleared space in the card rack.

So this is how death prunes away friends and acquaintances from the tree of my life.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lightning Bugs

I always assumed fireflies were called lightning bugs because they flash on and off like sparks of lightning. But last night the name "lightning bugs" took on a new meaning as several cells of thunderstorms passed over in quick succession. I say thunderstorms because drenching rain was accompanied by heat lightning, but actually very little thunder.

In between downpours, during an interval of misty sprinkling, lightning lit up the entire sky for half a second. After every switch-on/switch-off of lightning, the lady lightning bugs lounging in the grass blinked on in a chorus of orgasm.

Then darkness fell all around, suddenly lit by a bowl of lightning overhead. Three seconds later, the lady lightning bugs switched on as if the grass was covered with strings of fairy lights.

Lightning bugs responding to lightning.
Earth echoing heaven's song of light