Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

autumn brings some quiet…

I’m pretty sure Jeff and I successfully made it through a move followed by a week trip over to Paris. No one got lost for too long, nothing got broken during the move, everyone and everything is accounted for. Except perhaps the wonderful 20 pd bag of bird seed I had for the birds this winter. It turns out that chippies are able to get into our new home’s garage and they ate that 20 pd. bag in a week. It’s strange because they left little behind. it’s almost as if I moved an empty bag to the garage…and never was it ever full…

So it’s day two of being back in the States and certainly the rhythm of life is very different here than in Paris. What I’m really grateful is coming back to my own home (no apartment dwelling now! whee!) and having this big yard to ponder over. I’ve been sitting outside on the privacy of my own deck and just watching the sky…which is about all one can do when suffering from jetlag.

The cats are very possessive of us now, never letting us getting out of their eyesight unless, of course, they’re asleep! I wondered if they would remember us and they did and they do, very very well, which is rather touching.

So I’m here and I’m back and it’s been a long long ride. I’m glad the summer is closing because this summer has been very madcap. Every month since May we expected to move here to this house and every month it got moved back till finally there was a week till Paris and something had to happen. And it did. We got in and then we left. But now we’re back and I think I’ll unpack very very slowly and just relish this Non-rushing about. I’m not a very good rusher anyways.

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Beautiful Dirty Summer

The thick green groves of cup-plants (silphium perfoliatumare) stand eight feet tall and are in their late summer glory. I look up at their bright yellow ray flowers and shield my eyes, the bright flowers sway so high and run so close to the sun. When I squint, the flowers darken into forms without color like the outline of the sun beating through closed eyelids.

I take a step nearer and peer into the leaves. Tiny pools of still water collect where the thick cup leaves meet the stems. It has not rained in the last few weeks and I’m surprised there is any water here at all. For leaves that are not broken or rotted, thimblefuls of water weigh without movement, rimmed with the detritus of summer: a fly’s wing, a wad of spider web, bits of dead grass and portions of pollen.

These tiny pools are water for goldfinches, tiny birds that flash by like rays of light. It hasn’t rained for weeks and this is left, tiny pools of water full of dirty summer. I consider drinking it. With one quick gulp, I’d drink the essence of a passing summer, imbibe what August means, and taste the bitter part of the growing season. This is living but rotting part that underlines all our lives but that no one likes to see, much less taste.

I shift my weight from foot to foot. The sun beats heavily down. The yellow flowers tumble in overhead breezes and the goldfinches live nearby, finding water where they can as the dry weeks pass. My hands drop to my sides and I pass back through the grass, ready for the shade. Perhaps when it rains and all the cup plants are full, I’ll take my drink along with the many others.

Life Lessons from a Cardinal

Outdoor living is coming in fits and starts now that it’s June. Last week it was in the 90’s (30C) and today it is gentle and cool with thunderstorms passing by north and south, bringing coolness in the wake of their stormy skirts. The sun shines but the thunder rumbles nearby and my cats retreat farther indoors to snooze on chairs instead of near windows.

It is tempting to join them. The heat break means that deep good sleep is possible again. Even with air conditioning, I sleep poorly when it’s hot. I sleep best when it rains.

And it has been raining at night but in great torrid thunderstorms where the house shakes and the windows rattle. Sometimes I lie in bed as the thunderstorms march by and wonder at the fate of all the creatures and people living outside.

It is summer and I have no arguments with it. It’s too hard to argue with the seasons. On the beautiful days, I sip my breakfast tea outdoors and watch the birds and squirrels to start my day. There’s always a drama playing out in the backyard. My favorite is the cardinal who walks along the deck rail, casting his bright black eye here and there and then breaks into song until a robin kicks him out. When the coast is clear, he returns and does the same thing all over again. Despite my nearness, he doesn’t mind me at all and I adore his bright red plumage and courageous laughing heart. His song cheers my soul and I’ve come to recognize his particular song. It falls under the same lines as all cardinals but it has a bit of improvised trill at the end. I think he’s been hanging out with song sparrows and got Ideas.

He’s a hard individual to photograph (all flash and movement) but I’ve shared a photo of a cardinal from National Geographic so you can get the idea. He’s hard to ignore and is a permanent on the robins’ blacklist. I aspire to such a level of happy insouciance.