Saturday, August 27, 2011

8.27 Before the Storm


The neighbors are discussing storm preparations.
We decide to cut some flowers to bring indoors. I am apologetic walking among the beds of the back garden, half believing, though still really disbelieving, that hurricane force winds will flatten all the plants and strip all the blossoms. I tell myself that the roots are strong, most of the plants have been in the earth for some years now.
Hot and sticky; occasional flashes of sunlight in the morning, that strange light that water-soaked sky sometimes permits.
I gather what I find in the mostly played-out vegetable garden; the squash and cucumbers are gone. I take some oddly shaped tomatoes and some immature peppers, fearful they won’t survive. Bees are active, particularly the sumo-wrestler size which work though the tall phlox here in late August. Grasshoppers jump away as I come to near without seeing them; bumper crop of them this year. But no sign of the squirrels or birds. The cat demands to go outdoors this morning; so much for this species’ shrewd weather instincts.
I pick another handful of deep purple-black blackberries too; complemented by a dozen or two late bright red raspberries.
I decide that the zinnias, my best annual crop this year, should sacrifice some head blooms to furnish the indoors. Some of the plants, transplanted too close together, no doubt, have tangled; it’s not always easy to tell which stem goes to which. I take some new blooms where they are most abundant; I cut off a few others that have blown as the English would say (faded) and toss them on the mulch. And I cut a few more to display that are mostly faded but still show some of the character of the way they were. I think there’s an autumnal beauty to this faded beauty.
Then I pick some of the violet tall phlox, being careful not to dispossess the great harvest bees which crawl in and out among the blossoms, making the world of flowers as they provide sustenance for the future generations of their collective selves. Who can comprehend the lives of bees? So selfless, so utterly unindividualized, yet so determined. Nature’s finest statement of altruism.
Yet, of course, we don’t know how plants think either. Do tall phlox want so much to make more tall phlox that they have fallen on the happy expedient of making abundant attractively colored blossoms so we will assiduously plant and cultivate and breed and disseminate them over the earth?
The strongly colored phlox flowers are the dominant color of the garden in the last week of August. Their presence is echoed by another variety, a light pink blossom on an attractively bi-colored leaf, which I acquired though some happy accident I can no longer remember.
I wanted to take a rose of Sharon bloom as well. But all the white ones, blossoming freely for the last month and a half, were part of little clusters of buds. I hate picking a branch with unopened buds unless I have a good reason, generally reason, to believe the new buds will open as well. I moved over to the pink rose of Sharon, where only flower was open; but no unopened buds were sharing the same twig, so I clipped it, discovering only then a slender, yellow-flecked bee creature hanging around inside. Not like any honey bee I knew, so I didn’t feel too bad about dispossessing him. If he’s looking for an attractive shelter from the storm he should try the white ones next door.
I will arrange the flowers indoors, as we make our own shelter from the storm. Anne gets batteries, candles inside of glass, and remembers to take a plastic bag of matches (which we use only outdoors on the charcoal grill) in from the shed. Unlike the bees and the flowers, we have roof over our heads and a fair distance from the sea. But a storm is an act of nature, and somehow I think the green world will still be there when the storm is over.