Sunday, May 1, 2011

From the Patio

or Days of Rest

Yesterday the clouds were big and little dots, paw-prints racing ahead of today's cold front.  The wind set the aspen leaves next door to rattling; if your eyes were closed, they sounded almost like a mountain stream chuckling over pebbles.  The desert olive trees hissed softly.  Big and little bees that for some reason reminded me of the clouds scudding overhead buzzed around the catmint.  I watched one bee struggling against a sudden gust to reach its flower—any flower—and then bury itself in a world of pollen once it had succeeded.

It has been another weary week—a week where the tiredness is so strong it hurts—and thus also a week of being grateful for Adirondack chairs, footstools, patios, and spring weather.  And cameras with zoom lenses.

It's not the way I would have chosen to spend these afternoons, but I have enjoyed the hours of tracing the wind's passage through my neighbors' differently tuned sets of wind chimes; of hearing the trill of hummingbird wings rushing by (the birds are apparently still sneering at the autumn sage, since they go right past).  I have enjoyed the small tableaux that appear unexpectedly when you limit your field of vision; the scent of a neighbor's honeysuckle wafting over the wall; a lunch-time nibble on a bit of garlic leaf; the splashes of color here and there—the first of the wine cups in what seems to have become a "dry riverbed" sort of bed without my quite intending it to,

Callirhoe involucrata
and the autumn sage beginning to get serious;

Salvia greggii 'Wild Thing'

the breath-takingly gentle contrast between silver betony's calyx and corolla;

Stachys inflata

the slow opening of daisies.

Anthemis tinctoria 'Susanna Mitchell'

Generally in Microcosm I am looking for some connection between my garden and the wider world, but sometimes there is no obvious or necessary connection—just an experience to be enjoyed on its own, a moment—or an hour, or an afternoon—to be lived, without meaning anything beyond its own beauty.

I'm beginning to realize that that is the essence of rest.


  1. I like the photos - particularly the wine cups in the drv riverbed and salvia greggii. I especially resonate with what you say about realizing you don't always need to find deep meaning in what you experience in your garden. To me, that realization is huge. That what is doesn't have to be other than what it is. That what is is fundamentally ok. All we have to do is be present to it ...

  2. Your photographs are the reason I went out and bought some new colored pencils and pastels and a huge thick sketch book. I've been away from art for too long and your words and pictures make me long for it again.

  3. Thanks for the link through to your "How I'm a Bad Person who STARVES all the cute little Hummingbirds" post. Made me laugh and has set me up for going to work this morning - a public holiday when everyone else is still in bed.

    (And thanks to Google, I've learnt what an Adirondack chair is)!

  4. The wind always makes for good weather to just sit and watch. Almost as good as lightning. Still, I find the constant noise and movement exhausting.

  5. And so a wonderful lesson to us all to look, rest and relax...enjoy the graden and heal with it!!

  6. Sheila, thank you--I have the feeling the wine cups will be showing up fairly often this summer. You put the rest so well--sometimes we do get in the way of our own experiences.

    Baffled, you just completely made my day! I'm in awe of anyone with drawing ability. Please post your work at Infinite Daze if you're so inspired.

  7. Dave, I'm so glad you enjoyed that one! Not there's anything enjoyable about depriving hummingbirds of their food or anything, as they have made abundantly clear. Adirondack chairs are the Bees' Knees.

    Mud, yesterday's wind was a bit much, wasn't it? I just kept reminding myself that at least it wasn't a tornado...

  8. you want a link to the wider world? Our sunbirds LIKE your Salvia greggei! I often see them there ;~)

  9. Days of wind and rain are wonderful days to rest. It reminds me that we can't- and shouldn't - always work.

  10. Donna, thank you--there are worse fates than "having" to stop to enjoy a garden...

    Diana, I'm so glad someone enjoys the Salvia greggii! Apparently I've ended up with the world's only food-snob hummingbirds.

    Holley--yes, there's much to be said for keeping work in balance.

  11. Stacy,
    Loved this post. The pix are beautiful and the last sentence hit me right between the eyes. I often try to make so much out of something simple.

    I identify with the weariness. It is my worst enemy. The pain I have learned to live with. The fatigue is more than I can deal with at times.

    So thankful for your garden. And for you.

    My grandaughter helped me plant containers with seeds on Sat. Hoping for some splashes of color soon:)


  12. Thank you for your lovely pics and thoughtful notions.

    Once mentioned, I had to go find the hummingbird post. I gave up the sugar water thing two years ago. I advised them that they could go up the road to Miz Lenorah's and sip there. They still hang around for the marvelous nectars that grow here, running to field's edges when the chineyberries bloom and coming back here for shrimp plants and other delights. I reasoned that the time I spent boiling sugar water and bleaching black mold from nasty feeders could better be spent planting more lush tropical goodies that don't have to be sterilized.

  13. I feel so rested just after reading your post. I need a glass of homemade lemonade and a rocker.

  14. Elaine, I'm glad this one "spoke" to you--isn't it weird how something as simple as resting can be so difficult? I wish we had a better word than fatigue, not just for CFS but for our experience--that flattened feeling is such a different quality of weariness than our regular words convey. I'm sorry you've had to struggle with it for so long. But how wonderful to share the experience of seed-planting with your granddaughter! That's something both of you will remember for a long time. I hope the seeds grow enthusiastically for you and that you're finally getting some good weather!

  15. Nell Jean, I like your reasoning! I used to do feeders, too, and didn't much care for the ants and earwigs and black mold and all the rest. The Keystone Kops activity got to be a little frantic sometimes, too. I'm sure the hummingbirds much prefer your garden's tropical nectars to Miz Lenorah's sugar water, even though it sounds like they're willing to be neighborly.

    Carolyn, what a lovely thing to say! Inspiring, too--that homemade lemonade sounds like a very good idea.