Summer quietly crept into the meadow behind my tiny house.  Days shimmer under the sun, temperatures climbing to the eighties, nineties.  The heat drops to sixty when evening falls.  I still do not regret choosing not to have air conditioning.  With a few small metal fans and open windows, the house stays comfortable. 

I walked to the garden this afternoon, steadied by the walking stick which my friend Katrina brought from Colorado years ago.  Its unfinished surface has weathered and darkened.  I grip the natural curve of the handle, a protrusion cut from the limb above a knot.  The  leather strap rests on my wrist.

I don’t like using a cane but the long expanse between my house and the garden holds surprises that might trip me.  Tree roots linger in the loose soil.  Moles lurk beneath the surface; I see fresh mounds where they’ve ventured from below in the cool of night.  I walk slowly, carefully, enjoying the warm air tempered by the Delta breeze.

The sun shines full and steady at the far end of the park.  I lean my walking stick against the living trellis which one of my neighbors made last year from discarded willow branches.  The height of it amazes me.  We know it has taken root.  It sends out new green shoots in the spring, healthy branches from which its leaves still grow.  I run my finger along the softness of a handful of those leaves as they sway in the wind.  I recall how we diligently stripped the thing last year.  I like it better this way, unchecked, rising in cheerful defiance above the tomato plants.

We’ll have strawberries soon.  I briefly check on them before gingerly stepping down to the peppermint plants.  I’ve done some reading about the spider mites on my Fuchsia plant.  The internet gurus recommend peppermint oil and dish soap.  I plan to try that concoction before I surrender and order some pre-fab product.  The first step involves crushing peppermint into olive oil and letting that sit for a few days.  I’m game to try; It’s what my mother would do.

As I walk back, a finch lands on one of the old water spigots at the edge of the meadow.  I stop to watch it flick its feathers.  It seems to be singing to something high above us.  I crane my neck and search the blue stretch of sky for its partner.  While I’m looking away, it rises from its perch and flies into the trees.  I pause for another moment or two, then resume my slow journey home.

It’s the twenty-second day of the sixty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

The living trellis.

The incomparable Ella Fitzgerald sings “Summertime”.


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