The sudden sharp cry of a bird shatters the silence and makes her look up.? She cannot see the bird, it is hidden behind the six foot tall rushes that border the pond.? So she goes back to deweeding the perennial bed.? The bird too, falls silent and soon, the drone of the bees and the ripple of the pond waters are the only sounds in the yard.
It is still early in the day, and the sun has not worked up enough heat.? Summer is almost over, this is the last weekend of summer. Soon the phlox and the gaillardia will stop putting out their showy blooms.? But the deweeding continues, and the removal of spent flowers, and planting new plants now that the sun is no longer fierce and the ground is still warm.
Crouching in the flower bed and turning over the soil with her trowel, she does not notice that she is uncomfortable, or that her shoulders are protesting.? She is strangely relaxed, and her thoughts, if at all there are any, are focused on the next plant to weed.? What other people achieve through meditation and hatha yoga, she achieves by getting her elbows dirty.
A butterfly passes by and decides to take a drink at one of the salvia (ornamental sage) plants.? It is an ordinary butterfly, and the salvia now has very few flowers left.? Yet she beams with pride, as if the butterfly had really handed her a certificate or a seal of approval.? Hey, it loves my salvia, she thinks to herself.
The elderly father of the neighbor sits a few yards away on the wall of his raised vegetable bed.? He is also deweeding his bed, though mostly, he sits for long periods, looking through the rushes at the pond, sifting through his thoughts and memories.? She smiles and greets him, and he smiles back.? They don’t share a common language, but they can each understand the desire to spend an hour or two rooting in the soil.
The deweeding is over and she decides to plant a few plants.? As she digs a small hole, a winged seed floats in and hovers over the rim of the hole, its soft white bristles gently touching the ground. ? Perhaps it hopes that she will plant it in the ground.? She recognizes it as the seed of a Canada thistle, the prickly weed that grows near the rushes and bursts into pink flowers that the birds love.? She throws the seed out of the bed and resumes planting.
As she takes one of the flower pots and starts to pull out the plant, a flash of yellow-green legs startles her and she screams.? A frog jumps out of the pot, probably more startled than she was.
No one hears her shriek, the elderly neighbor has gone back into his house for lunch. The silence takes over again, as if there had never been any sound at all.? Suddenly, the very air seems to have stilled, there is no breeze and even the birds have disappeared into the cover of the branches.? It is noon.
She finishes planting and starts watering the plants.? There are sudden splashes of color as unseen butterflies and moths suddenly burst out from flowers, startled by the spray of water.? Reluctant to leave, they hover around and settle on other flowers, only to have the hose follow them.? But these are stubborn creatures, and they wait, hovering around, flitting from flower to flower, until the watering is finished.? Then they settle down for a leisurely drink at the flowers.
The sun is beginning to make its heat felt.? She knows it is time to go indoors.
But she lingers in the garden, shading her eyes and watching the flowers and the butterflies against the fresh tilled blackness of the earth.
Fall will arrive in her garden next weekend.? The last vestiges of summer that have hung around until now are already packing their bags. You can see that in the phlox, its pink petals strewn on the ground untidily, like the altar after a wedding.? The festivities of summer are over.
The garden will still be brilliant in fall.? The Burning Bushes at the edge of the lawn will blush crimson, and the maple trees will burst into orange-red flames.? The ash will turn a bright yellow, and the crabapples beside it will show off their red berries. The green sedum plants in the perennial bed, with little buds that look like tiny jasmines strung in a garland, will bloom with bunches of lovely pale pink flowers. Even the rushes by the pond will get into the game, turning a lovely golden? brown.
She knows all this, and yet, she wants to bask in the glow of the warm summer sun one last time.
If she stands long enough in the brilliantly colored garden, she wonders if she can etch the memory of this day on her memories, just like the purple picture that forms in her eyelids when she looks too long at the sun.
She wonders if she can bottle up the smells and sounds, and the sights too, and take it with her.? Can she release these smells on one of those cold, dark winter days, when the garden is a desolate white ?