Thursday, July 29, 2010

7.26 The Joy of Shade

Hot days have their arc. It’s a longer arc than cold days, more of a journey, because in July, one month out from the summer solstice, the days are still long.
It was cool in the morning today, enough so that we didn’t have the fans on, and according to the forecasts the dry, pleasant air was still with us. But the day warmed up rapidly. The air thickened by midday and it was too hot to want to do anything in the sun. By mid-afternoon, when I went out to do errands, people weren’t lingering on the pavement.
I put off various garden “projects” – to give them an ambitious name; “chores” might be just as accurate – as the day heated up. Midday in a hot summer day’s arc discourages vigorous effort. Do I want to climb a ladder and see how far I can get up in the mulberry tree to remove some branches shading the garden? Not now, I don’t. How about planting some sun-loving annuals in a sun-delivering spot? No thanks. Maybe later. I notice lots of plants, whole garden precincts, that want water. But it doesn’t make sense to water in the full sun.
I’ll wait for the shade to cover these spots, and water then.
A whole lot appears to be relying on this promise of shade.
About five in the afternoon the arc of the day heads downward. I can see the shade advancing across the back garden from the room where I work.
Sun is necessary to grow, thrive, energize the planet, make food. Shade is necessary to survive, while the hay is making.
The shadows move and in some places grow while I watch. The shadow plays make intriguing little plant-like shapes against the bamboo fence. These semiotics invite me to go out there among the shady places and apply the needed water to the very bodies which transmitted these signals.
I do go out and hand-water some plants in the sunny front garden – a fading hollyhock; the thirsting lace-cap hydrangea with wilting leaves which seems to have no more flowers for us this year but still wants attention; some annuals, including a few in pots. Then I wrestle off the gun (what is the right term for this appliance?) from the end of the hose and replace it with the sprinkler, which I set up in a spot to sweep most of the back garden.
The day’s arc continues. Anne comes home. I barbecue. We go to the library, and on arrival back home I decide to turn off the sprinkler. Maybe, I think, I’ll splash some more water around the places the sprinkler didn’t reach, now that it’s cool, but I can’t seem to find where I put down the hose gun.
The day is over. The arc is complete. I’m in the dark.

Shade: a haiku

Things that live in shade
Delicate flowers hiding
Their passion// for night