Wednesday, July 20, 2011

7/16 July Happens Fast

Chained to my diet
Watching heirloom tomatoes
Turn red with envy

The high summer month goes by fast, changing its aspect like a diva with a full wardrobe closet.
There are the days when the world grows up quickly around you, covering all you see with glittering morning light. The plants hold the cool of the night and radiate contentment. Leaves flowers glow in the shade, a subtle sideways light, playing on the moisture wherever it finds it.
Good days. Early, crisp, cool, sun on the way. The insects have stayed up late and aren’t awake enough yet to find you by the tantalizing smell of your blood.
The first hot days of summer. When the evening comes, the cool is delicious. The first nights of the year when you can’t possibly stay indoors. When the house is quiet, and the street dead still, some houses already dark, you step out on the porch to look at the night sky and feel the cool touch of the night air. Then you walk out into the middle of the street and crane your head upward toward the moonlight, if it’s that time of the month, or the starlight if it’s not. You wonder why everyone doesn’t spend their nights out of doors and their afternoons indoors, asleep.
The hot and humid days arrive. At first only a few, no more than two in a row. But you see what these days do the earth and to the more sensitive plants: those in pots, those which hang their leaves like old rags at the first sign of water-loss.
The days when the first thing you do in the morning is put flip-flops on and walk outdoors, where the temperatures is exactly the same as it is indoors, and turn on the hose. The lace-cap hydrangea is already suffering. The ground feels likes a waste lot after a visit from a steamroller. Little marginal sprouts of this or that show you they are nearing the end. One more day like the last one, they soundlessly promise, and you’ll be sweeping up their remains.
You hose some water on the worst spots, the driest plans. You remember why July is not a good month for transplants.
The quiet overcast day arrives. Maybe there’s been a storm, if we’re lucky. If not, something has happened in the cosmos to mask the sun. The humidity seems to have receded as well. The droopy plants have undrooped, their leaves reach up to the sky like supplicants. Still, it’s a good day to water, since the soon won’t suck up your effort right away, just in case…
Let us welcome the perfect day. You work in the garden, cutting back decaying leaves and stems, removing the old layers of spring-blooming plants, which have already had their season in the sun, the better to show off the new acts which now take the stage. The red bee balm, the hydrangea, the stella d’oro, and when they pass, the black-eyed susans. They do pass quickly.
On the perfect day you may also rest, trying out chairs and outdoor perspectives you haven’t used yet this year. Because while it’s a fine day to do things, anything really, it’s also the perfect day to do nothing. You’re not too hot or too cold. The wind doesn’t blow your papers away. The beverage tastes good. You have absolutely nothing planned.
Then there are the rainy days. Just enough of them to get tedious. Those tomatoes will really shoot up now, you tell yourself, when the sun ever shines again. Whenever is that going to happen?
The days that look different. The expanding colony of blue balloon-flowers steal the attention of the eye: something new under the sun. You have cut down faded blossoms and used up stems before, but then you said, Oh these were the June flowers. Now you are cutting back the day lilies. Aren’t these my July flowers? Has it all happened so quickly?
But it is not true that the season is done with you, or you with it. Headlines proclaim the news: Hot and Humid Weather Heading Our Way… Here comes the Heat Wave. July still has some cards to play.