Summer – The End

It’s the end of October, but the weather is still holding up.   Cold in the morning and at night, but during the day the temperature holds at solid sixties.   After a few days of nasty, chilly rain the sun finally came out again.   It feels like fall and looks like fall. The thick layer of colorful leaves covers my whole front yard, the roses turn into buds, and the daisies start to dry out.  The autumn melancholy is slowly taking over.   The backyard is still green, but covered with the greenish-blackish balls from the only remaining tree left after my husband got rid of all others.   After one of our biggest trees destroyed our neighbor’s roof during Sandy, he decided that the risk was too high.  I suspect it is some kind of nut, because there is a hard shell inside looking like a hazelnut.   This year has been especially fruitful, since the amount of “nuts” falling from the tree exceeds anything we’ve seen before.   The patio sits right under the tree, and we have to make sure that the umbrella is open when we have a meal outside to protect us from the potential head injuries.  We call it our “air defense system”.    We are used to the sound of something falling on our roof by now – does not scare us anymore.

This year was the first year I’ve decided to plant a garden.   We’ve tried before with mixed results, mostly because we had a lot of trees that prevented the sun from reaching the plants.  Now we had sun, and lots of it.  I recruited my husband to do a hard labor.  We’ve separated two triangular areas: the smaller one for the herb garden, the bigger one for the vegetables.    The water hose was used as a ruler to mark the planting area.   The lines on the ground were painted by the yellow spray, which was later used for putting all kind of messages on the fence, like who was there, when, and how we felt about each other.  The first round of digging was done by a machine rented from Home Depot for a day.  My herb garden was separated from the rest of the backyard by the heavy wooden border.    The garden or rather the surface without the grass was starting to shape up.  The rest of the digging was done by my son – the manpower with much better quality and price than the machine. 

The herb garden was a success except for basil, which died out within the three days.  But mint and rosemary compensated for the loss by taking all the available space in the garden.  The dill and the parsley followed along filling up every spare inch.   I dried out most of the mint to use for an herbal tea by putting it in the small bouquets then hanging them on the linen rope in the garage.   The refreshing smell spread over and even got into the house.  The benefits of aromatherapy did not go unnoticed since the house got a lot quieter for a couple of days.

The downside is that half the bowl of every salad I make is parsley.  I love parsley, and hate wasting good food, so my family is forced to eat it no matter if they want it or not.   They also had to eat the massive amounts of cucumbers and tomatoes, as well as zucchini and peppers.  We gave away some, and pickled some, but still had leftovers.   Even though the size and the shape of the vegetables were much different from the ones sold in the store, the smell and the taste compensated for slightly weird looks.

Strawberries did not start to bloom until the middle of the summer, when the official strawberry season was already over.   Plus most of the crop was eaten by the squirrels before it turned red.   But the strawberry bushes propagated and became stronger, so I have big hopes for the next year.

This weekend we started to clean up.  It is much easier to plant then to clean up.  To clean up is to accept that this is the end, that nothing else would grow and then deliciously melt in your mouth, that the outdoors would be limited to a few hours per day if you are not too lazy to put on layers of clothing, that there would be no more breakfasts on the patio enjoying the delicate morning sun.  I put on gloves and old sneakers and organized the crew.   We worked in silence.  We raked the leaves, gathered “the nuts”, removed the dried plants, and filled in the black bags with the remains of the summer.

The Rain by Simon Van Booy

A few  quotes by Simon Van Booy.  His writing is beautiful and mesmerizing, just a pure joy .

“When small drops began to fall and darken the world in penny-shaped circles, no one arround him scurried for cover.  For lonely people, rain is a chance to be touched.”

“It had rained, she said, and I imagined the beads of small water on the windshield like a thousand eyes, or each drop a small imperfect reflection of a perfect moment.”

“Rain says everything we cannot say to one another.  It is an ancient sound that willed all life into being, but fell so long upon nothing.”

 

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The Night Rain

by Konstantin Balmont

There was a rain.  With a melodious sound,

It was a-striking at the roofing’s beast.

And through all night, it was a spirit bound

With soul mine rejecting the night rest.

 

I was recalling.  All my childhood’s years.

The village where I have been born and grown.

My ancient garden. Waters of my river

And flame of flowers its steep shores on.

 

I was recalling.  The first date’s attraction.

The grove of birches, starry night in June.

She’d come to me.  But like sharp pain was passion.

And she had fled – a bird under the moon.

 

I was recalling.  My new song of soul.

And more and more – the smiles of lips and eyes.

She’s blonde, dark-browed, gentle….  And the whole

Wave of sweet love, narration of the stars.

 

I was recalling: no return for gladness,

And to that gladness – no ways are left …

And rain was striking, in this weather helpless

Composing a measured minuet.

The Arts

An excerpt from “A Man Without a Country” by Kurt Vonnegut

“If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts.  I am not kidding.  The arts are not a way to make a living.  They are a very human way of making life more bearable.  Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.  Sing in the shower.  Dance to the radio.  Tell stories.  Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.  Do it as well as you possibly can.  You will get an enormous reward.  you will have created something.”

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The Puzzle

I got an unexpected gift last week -a 500-piece puzzle for $14.99.  It was not purchased for me personally; my husband stepped by FAO Schwaz Toy store on his way from work, and, since everybody walked out with the nice bag, decided that he wanted one too.  He liked the picture and the price, so he walked out with the puzzle.  Nobody wanted it, so I claimed it and, despite my better judgment, jumped right in.

I liked the picture too -an oil painting of a Parisian street with the cozy, cobble-stoned street lined up with the trees turning yellow, an outdoor café with the menu handwritten on the blackboard next to the entrance, buildings  with flowers on the windows, the stand with movie posters and the sky to die for.   I opened the plastic bag with the pieces and tried to strategize.  I would do the borders first, then fill in the middle.    My younger son came to help.  We went through the content of the bag trying to find anything with the flat side and to figure out where it belonged on the picture.  The task was tedious, required concentration and attention to details, but pieces fell together eventually, and that was very rewarding.  I tried to put my son to bed, but he did not want to leave.  I let him skip his before bed reading and stay longer.

The puzzle felt like an unfinished business.  It called my name from the farthest room in the house,  attracting me like a magnet.  I kept coming back to find one more piece, and staying for hours.  I abandoned the housework, watching TV, reading; I had to make all the pieces fall into place.   At times it looked like the piece matched perfectly – the shape and the colors, but it won’t go in.  So I tried another one and another one, until I just gave up, cursed myself for wasting all this time, and promised myself to throw the stupid puzzle in the garbage, so that I won’t see it ever again.   Half an hour later I was looking for a piece again, convinced that now it would somehow work.  And sure enough, one piece fell into place, and then, before I knew it, the building was complete, than the movie poster stand, and I felt that I was getting somewhere, and the life was worth living.

At some point I realized that it was not about the puzzle anymore.  I needed a reassurance that if I tried long and hard, looked for the clues, changed strategy, accepted the failure and started over again, eventually, I would find what I was looking for and make it work.  I had to see the piece to fit into the spot, making the image emerge.  I could not stop until it happened.

It is a miniature version of a life-cycle of a human.    You have this picture in you head of how you want your life to look like.  You take the steps to get it accomplished.   You go to school, work like a slave, save money, try to please everyone.  You think you are doing everything right – the way described in books and shown in the movies, the way your parents taught you, and your friends advised.   You see you life starting to shape up, but the last, the crucial piece is still missing.  How many wrong pieces you would have to try before it finally falls into place?  Will it ever happen?  And the picture you so are desperately trying to complete, is that what you truly want?  Are you willing to settle for less?  Is the end result what really matters?