Gyros chickpeas cold coffee, autumn sun and runaway mind…..

I have just gotten through three things on my to do list today:

  1.  lunch  2.  call Elene  3.  call Dave

I did all of the above but it took three hours instead of the allotted 1.5

There is still:  change clothes, air out basement (I have a very old house with a very old-fashioned basement that still needs airing out, it might keep me safe when the next tornado hits), look through bills, pay bills, mail bills (I still write out bills put them in an envelope, stick on a stamp and walk four blocks through the green and manicured rich part of town, to the little post office with the bored and sometimes rude post office lady who would rather be somewhere else), write for two hours, email Bill, call Jose, call handyman to put up storms,  make dinner, do the laundry………. that’s just the top part.

While I was on the phone with Elene I was walking around the garden, the gravel driveway (with morning glories,  verbena and bordeaux dwarf snapdragons here and there–growing through the small jagged stones), the front and the back.  The trees just won’t turn colors this year, at least not mine.  The tall serviceberry which is usually a fiery orange scarlet, the leaves are still green and oval, almost looks like summer except it’s a little worn a little old a little tired like me….. the lack of rain and then the constant heat of 90’s for seven straight days and then the sudden cold and then the heat again and then the drought again and more cold  ……. the tree just doesn’t know what to do… just like me so it stands there waiting and waiting for something to happen…

The Ash that I let grow in the corner right outside my back door is quite large and is dropping long and slender leaves in banana gold.. some in triplets some in sevens and eights and some in singles like big sloppy tears…

They are all over the lawn and earlier when I was still sitting in my chair outside eating breakfast (at 12:30 p.m.) one triplet fell on my shoulder and scared me and then I heard it laughing as it gently fell to the rich green grass below….after all the hot dry days… mostly a dry summer, it rained and rained last weekend and now it’s emerald green again everywhere.. the park across the street today as I was walking home, exuded green,  green smell green breath green teeth and lips, and it was like a shiny new animal just born….I was lugging two bags of groceries from the store and I wanted to just drop them there and lie down on that green grass and lick it up like some happy dog… but there were dogs and too many people there and I was feeling very greedy and wanted that whole 14 acre park to myself…… then I decided 14 acres is not that much…. I need 140 acres… maybe 1, 400 acres,   maybe 14,000 acres… oh how I could roam forever there and be truly happy….maybe 40,000 acres….

I must settle for my garden.  Eating two perfectly cooked basted eggs, the sunny yolks  smiling at me, the whites not gluey or hard but silky and creamy yet solid, and the eggs not full of cholesterol but protein for shiny hair and skin and teeth. And the toast… and that cherry butter jam Nat bought me from Michigan tasted… like they say…. a summer day in a jar. A day of sun and heat and those cherries on some tree getting bigger and riper and juicier and someone picking them and pitting them and mashing them into this velvety jam that made my mouth almost scream with joy… scream away like the blue jays in the bird bath… blue jays seem to come here lately in the fall… why is that?  They are incredibly beautiful even though they have a bad reputation…… they leave me alone…

Oh the sun in that garden as I was eating those eggs and eating that toast with creamery butter and that tart sweet velvety cherry butter…. cherry butter regular butter rosemary butter garlic butter you can never have enough butter…oh and the coffee… I love coffee so much there was a little left in my cup from this morning that I didn’t finish because I was running late..I could not throw it down the sink…. I left it there on the counter… coffee… my fragrant fresh ground deep rich bitter cup of happiness was there on the counter when I got home and it was cold and flat but I took it out and drank it cold anyway right there in the garden with the golden sun warming my back….

I am rambling now and I hear this rambling and it is a pitter patter of short term happiness in my brain because my brain is not happy because my brain my heart and eyes are seeing feeling knowing more evil and depression and degradation and humiliation and fires and hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes and shootings and murders and harassing here and there then I believe I have ever known.

This is why I thank God for my garden and for the leaves falling and the flowers even that are saying goodbye goodbye goodbye. The grass is still green and the light, the light is shining through the trees onto the tiles that I set down in the back bed creating two small paths in the garden.  And it makes the stone tiles shimmer like water move like water and the path is going here, there, everywhere and nowhere.

This sun should not be so warm so gold this October that has decided to stay and stay.   But let it stay.  I turn around to look at it still from time to time as I write this and I don’t even know what to say about it.. How it makes me feel how just sitting in that golden sun warms my bones my skin my very brain shakes it up just a little coddles it like some poaching egg….. I do have eggs on my mind and have forgotten to write about the chickpeas.   I love eggs and am always amazed when I crack them open at the miracle inside not to mention the breads and muffins and cookies and cakes and tortes and sauces and souffles and mousses and crackers and all sorts of other things you can make with them……… you can even poke a hole in them and suck them out with a straw…. some people did that long ago….That Italian woman who lived to be 114, Elena Morena? and died recently in Italy, said that she ate two raw eggs a day. She said that kept her alive and well.  Those eggs and no husband.

Chickpeas were on sale today 4 cans for $3.00.  I bought them.   I love chickpeas! With tomatoes and onions, with tomatoes and garlic, onions and tuna.  In soup, in curries with spinach and garlic and ginger, in humus.  Straight from the can.   With salt.

I love salt! Oh how I love salt.  Salt makes everything better.  I love salt like I love the sun and my garden… even though it is dying…. I realize it is not dying it is transcending, transmogrifying, transporting, elevating, reinventing…. it is giving itself up to the sun and the moon and the stars it is being littered with leaves and seeds and pieces of the gravel driveway… and the birds have decided to poop everywhere… and the raccoons and the squirrels and the possums or something decided to use the roof for a bathroom. Looking out the other day from the guest room I spied a terrible pile of poop and had to put that on my to do list and it just didn’t get there…. thankfully the rain washed it all away….

Eventually the sun and the rain  wash everything away…

Whoever you are who may be reading this, you may think this person has finally lost their marbles and yes it is true I have or will soon and will be like my garden letting it all hit and shit and spit and whack and thrack away and then the sun will come again or the rain or some scowling wind….. and it will be fine…..

I have not gotten to the gyros yet…. I have discovered gyros!  Years ago I lived in Chicago near dozens of Greek restaurants that had gyros. But, seeing that massive hunk of brown meat on a spit in the big windows facing the street, did not appeal to me, and the dark-haired mustachioed macho men slicing it with long thin knives did not appeal to me. Then I worked in a grocery store that had a gyros night and I saw that big hunk of meat again on a spit and ignored it again and again and the poor woman who had to wheel out the big spit and put it together and stick on the big hunk of meat and then spend an hour slicing the gyros meat and packaging it …. just looking at her tired sweaty worn out face…. I wanted nothing to do with gyros meat….

There is a little cafe here in my town with six stools… the whole place the size of a big master closet.  I have walked by this place for years, heard about it, it read about it and never wanted to walk in. They have burgers and hot dogs (oh I love hot dogs!  fries!   snappy hot dogs piping hot in a steamy poppy seed bun with sport peppers and mustard and chopped onions …. and long med sized cut fires with crisp skin)… But not too crisp!   Creamy hot inside almost like a baked potato… and perhaps that hotdog was sitting next to the steaming bun and got a little bit soft and moist and a touch oily…

A sign said “Best gyros 2017.”

One day tired from work from life from cars and buses and streets and construction…. from rain and sun and even clouds.. from Everything!….. I walked into the cozy shop and felt all eyes on me (they know everyone who comes in ) and I ordered a Gyros and fries and root beer. Root beer! sarsaparilla cowboys herby natural sodas to quench your thirst and tickle your nose!   I sat there a little self-consciously next to the construction guys and the delivery guys and the little uncertain six year olds whose blonde yoga moms send them in to order…. the beautiful aspiring actors from the theater down the street …

My gyros was placed before me.  The pita bread was soft and fluffy and slighty warm and steamy from the meat and there were slices and slices piled high into the bread maybe a pound of meat….there were thinly sliced white onions and wedges of tomatoes…. and there was tzatsiki almost melting like custard sauce all over it.. it was too big to bite into yet (I was wearing lipstick and you can’t eat big sandwiches when you are wearing lipstick ) so I picked at the meat delicately with my fork first, trying hard not to stuff that whole big pita sandwich in my quivering mouth…. well dear reader I don’t know how to describe this gyros…. spicy, dense and meaty savory and mouth-watering, the flavors dancing all over my tongue and roof of mouth and even lips……salt and pepper meat that didn’t taste like meat at least to me…..I am still basically a vegetarian and don’t like the taste of real blood and fat and marrow……I love cartoony meats like hot dogs and meatballs, Popeye’s’ (remember him?) burgers, the ones flying in the air on the TV screen…… when I go to the store and see raw meat I get sick at the sight of the blood and cartilage and fat and I can’t help but see the eyes and snout and feet and body of the poor animal and see it frolicking in fields and meadows… (I would like to think they frolic)… this gyros did not taste like meat it was like a gyros tree had grown and these gyros were growing moist and spicy and salty and peppery and dense and chewy like a clean, blood free clot free tree meat, and the sauce was all creamy and chock full of cucumbers and the onions and tomatoes the fries the root beer.    I sat there in that little shop and I ate every crumb and every drop and drank that cold frothy root beer and felt like I was ten again…. and  I walked all the way home and felt that gyros in my happy stomach all day long……

On the way out I noticed a mandevilla vine in a small pot and the gyros guy planted it and it has grown about 15 feet tall with huge showy pink flowers and its trained around a gutter pipe…..

Yesterday after work I did not want to go home and I took the bus to the center of town and I wanted a gyros again so badly I could taste it smell it feel it deep in my gut.  My vegetarian self rebelled and said no, and trying to decide I found myself walking back and forth in front of the place like a madwoman, and they must have seen me through the window…..I stood in front of that bubblegum pink mandevilla plant and tasted those long ribbons of spicy meat and I felt like someone just burst my balloon, stole my ice cream, put a grasshopper down my shirt, took away my lollipops…..then I left abruptly to go instead to the little cafe run by the French nuns where they have mushroom cheese pizzas and ham and cheese crepes and herbal teas and apricot tarts and coffee eclairs and strawberry moussess… but that is another story…








Posted in Always the Garden, Eating, Drinking, Cooking, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What I Saw This Morning

It stays dark for a long time now in the mornings.    You can’t just walk out with your coffee at 5:00 a.m. and wander around the garden looking at the roses, the lilies, the zinnias.  Even though you planted the zinnias a month too late.  They’re there.  In pinks, reds, and oranges, magentas and yellows, white and every pale bubble gum color in between.

You can’t see them because it’s dark. But in the dark you sometimes begin to see….and hear and smell and feel the garden once again.  No matter what is happening in life, sickness, death or poverty, or any other human anxious dire thing.  The garden always calls.  Lifts me up.   Makes me forget.   Gives me hope.  Tells me it is another day.  Let’s me see how fragile, delicate, evanescent, transcendent, beautiful, ugly (sometimes) tired, hopeless and endlessly fascinating it is.    Because even in the dark it calls and in the dark you have the Stars.

The garden at night.  When it’s almost shimmering like dark water,  in indigo blues, inky blues, shadowy black blues, charcoals and purples that turn into blood red before your very eyes.

A heart is beating, some tiny cricket still is peeping in silver or in gold.

I woke up like someone being called, being raised from my temporary death like Ebenezer Scrooge, with his ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. I woke from my sleep in my dark room and wandered down into the kitchen and made the coffee like I did in the long and bright summer mornings, when things are pink and blushing before the yellow sun rises… but I was my own ghost barely aware that I was even there not knowing how I climbed down the long steep stairs… I turned on the outside light and some of the lights in the house to illuminate very slightly the garden to keep the skunks,  possums,  raccoons, or any unwanted humans away… and I stepped out into the darkness of my garden…

You don’t see the brown crinkled leaves, the yellowing grass, the trees that refuse to bring you autumn’s jeweled colors, the white guinea Impatiens that will not grow lush and wide like puffy clouds to rim the tired trees, you don’t notice the Euphorbia that stopped suddenly as surprised as you to be abruptly stilled, and those deep velvety black petunias that you tried all summer long to grow in the pot of wild trailing white flowers…they said no too …but it doesn’t matter…. in the dark it doesn’t matter that they disappeared forever from your once enchanted garden…

Now as I was walking in the dark, the contours of the place I call my garden has completely been transformed as though some plastic surgeon on a human face, the garden once again has curves and pink plump skin and beautiful bones, as though it was just born with soft baby cheeks and dimpled smiles, and long lush borders like swans whose necks are stretching out on endless blue lagoons, trees that look primordial, paths that twist and turn, the hostas even look like something from Brazil in this dark, the trees are solid mahogany and you could swing wild beasts from the branches…. the wild-eyed monkeys can eat bananas from the spindly hydrangeas whose flowers are no longer white but something whiter and dark and fuller and more fragrant than any night blooming jasmine, and they even sing…..the huge and boxy ugly house behind me has become a mountain like the one you used to climb or at least a big soft grassy hill, and the stars oh the stars looking up as though being called to them, being beckoned, being blessed, being christened again in dark baptismal waters, the screams and silences, the fear and anxiety of all these days and nights just one long starry ladder one long winding path of silver one long breath of air one long whisper one long heartbeat one long pause one long pause that will go on and on and on until the stars fade away into the morning watery sky and then tomorrow perhaps I will awake again in the dark room and climb down the long stairs to the dark kitchen to fill my cup again and wander out again into the garden black as night but lit up by a thousand flaming candles.

I see so many stars I see the Knight in Shining Armor, I see the Flame Thrower I see the Ladies in Waiting, I see the Beggars, I see the Sleepers, I see the Keeper of the Flames, I see the White Goddess, I see the Benign Ruler I see the Swans and the Birds Floating and Flying and the Hunter hunting for roses not blood, I see I see I see the night in all its glorious thrilling magnanimous beauty, the night that let me sleep the night that let me rest and now the night that calls me that calls me back into the garden to wander now peacefully, serenely, and I think I even see my mother there, my father, my grandparents, and all those souls from long ago as though they were breathing still, as though they have become a part of the nebulae part of the amber landscape the sepia drawing the night the night the night becomes dawn and the purple morning glories still peek out on the gravel driveway and I see them now rich and dark and purple underneath the fading grapevines….. and I remember them even in the dark, the silent way, the almost shocking, wild and gaudy way they say good morning… and maybe just maybe.  Hello.  It’s time to start again.


Posted in Always the Garden, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

18 Morning Glories

I woke up late again.   Can’t seem to make the dawn date anymore.    When the stars and the moon and the planets are still sighing, trying to hang on a little longer to the quiet soft and peaceful realms far away from that tiny awful planet.  No matter how tiny and insignificant it seems sometimes, it is awful, insidious, evil like a mosquito.

I haven’t seen a mosquito for awhile.   Even they are leaving.  And flies.  Gone too.

Centipedes now here and there in the basement.  To annoy us.  To remind us we are not alone.  No mice.  It is still too warm and they stay outside somewhere waiting.

The trees are dropping leaves.  The Linden next door drops masses of them brown and crinkly instead of yellow smooth silky.  My Serviceberries are stilted quiet somber and too are dropping leaves, so silently like someone whispering goodbye.  The bright scarlets and oranges, maroons and yellows, are gone it seems.  Forever? To another planet maybe where there is still time for happy summer skies.

I water these trees and water and water and still they stay sullen and dull.  The birds even stay away.   They come and go in the night and the very early dawn.

My neighbors are in Wales.  Hiking up some verdant path maybe.   Drinking in a pub and listening to stories of old.   In the mist in the rain in a pale sun maybe.  In a castle or a cottage where things perhaps are green and growing still.

Their garden is thriving.  Zinnias tall as shrubs.   Their tomato plants still lush and jungly green.  The tomatoes ripening and heavy on the vine.   I pick them almost every day and eat them there and then. My tomato plants are thin and spindly and have ties around them trying to hold them up.   The stems and branches rotting and flimsy like an old person who can barely stand.  But there is fruit, lots of fruit but barely hanging on.   A squash planted itself near the Chocolate Sprinkles and is growing there part mildewy grey and part true green, and sends out large showy yellow flowers….. I should eat those too but I let them rot.  There are no squash.

My neighbor and I bought pots of colorful flowers in June.  Pots filled with massive pink fuchsia, lavender, white, and deep purple petunias, lobelia, and  verbena.  Mine are pale and spindly have a few flowers here and there.  Their pots are massive, grown three times as large with showy big monster blooms more purple and pink and white and lavender then in June.

I, who wander in and out of gardens from dawn to dusk and in between.  Pinching and watering and sighing and hovering.  My garden wanes and theirs waxes coming into a full moon of bloom brighter and deeper and more glorious than mine will ever be………..they with their casual attitude or maybe it’s just happy. Peaceful serene come what may.  They come and go and when they return their garden is happy and bright their tomatoes still waiting in October for the salad bowl.

My garden is full of grey mists and tiny lavender asters that look like fog.  White spurge that looks like winter’s breath.   Tiny leaves that have no color left.   Vincas that have stopped. Roses that have disappeared.   Caladmiums that just said I have had enough.  Black petunias that disappeared twice.  Yellow coleus that let themselves be devoured by some worm. Ah, but by the back door there is a mass of purple asters that decided to stay and the huge ash tree hiding that mansion, the forbidden ash is very big and green and will eat my house maybe soon.  I can’t wait.

I walked out early this morning,  as early as I could…..walking down the path from my back door I thought I saw black and blue birds crinkled up and dying on the gravel driveway but this was something deep something more purple than the sky, more purple than the overripe grapes still dangling from the vines, this was the purple of kings and queens the rich robes of something no one yet has ever seen and in between there was blue bluer than anyones eyes bluer than any robin egg bluer than the very sky…… I counted them these baubles these jewels these living vessels holding up some secret elixir some secret perfume some secret fallen from the sky……. looking down on that dry and dusty gravel driveway someone had scattered 18 morning glories for my weary eyes…..





















Posted in Always the Garden, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Walking Down Patchouli Avenue

Walking home then after the movie and symphony and cicadas.   We almost missed our stop.  The conductor or loudspeaker did not announce them.  How is anyone supposed to know when to get off? What do you do if you are blind?  Are you supposed to know instinctively?  Do you count the stops until you get off?  Can you smell or hear or see something outside the windows that says get off now?

We had to press our faces to the glass it was so dark.. and still we couldn’t see, the train was speeding by everything…… And then we were full of music and the sounds and sights of the festival and all the people there…. a kind of summer giddiness had set in….  Young and old and in between.  Happy and healthy and sick and depressed. All of us were there. Waiting to have one more fling with music and nature and other people. Ah summer, we all know it is starting to wave goodbye…..

There were picnickers with tablecloths spread out on the grass and bottles of wine and beer and coolers and lounge chairs.  Hummus, fruit, crudites and cheese and all the picnicky things people bring…. Some had flowers in vases and candles, some had tiny strings of lights that they played with like cat’s cradle…… the park is known for the showy displays of food, flowers and candles.

But, these people are loud.  Even the ones in the enclosed theater, where you pay extra for a good seat.    So loud. . .they talk and talk and rattle potato chip bags and drink from squeaky crinkly water bottles and they hold up their iPhones taking selfies … they are  obnoxious.  We sat in the theater. A big comfortable theater where the seating is graded at such a slope that everyone can see… even if someone has a big head.  I always seem to sit behind people with big heads.  I myself have a very small head and perhaps inside there is a very small brain and a very small love for humanity and a very small tolerance for their noise and filth and bad manners…….for some reason now I remember that tall Swedish blonde who kept kicking, on purpose, the back of my seat on United Airlines ten years ago…the very hour we were breaking up… the slow unraveling of that evil liaison…. just as well because all I remember now are her stupid kicking legs.

There were two young heavily tattooed men sitting behind me on the train…. they seemed nice enough and were chatting happily.. going to the same event up north as you and I….. then you found me  .. I saw you through the window in that pretty summer dress all in pale apricot and sagey green….. you had to run really fast at the stop to meet me on the second car….. I was going to tell you that, to start walking down the tracks before the train gets there, and I forgot.  I myself knew that but I didn’t walk far enough and when the train was starting to pull into the station I had to run like hell to get to the second car….running for that train reminded me of Philip Larkin and his poem “The Whitsun Weddings” and that poem always makes me feel sad….

I was starving as usual…. forgot to eat again… My stomach hurt all that day….I was busy watering and weeding the garden… all I had were two or three cups of coffee.. I remember mom’s friend, that very thin attractive woman who was a nurse… she died of stomach cancer…  she drank coffee all day long and smoked…she had that loud repulsive husband who was a drunk and he used to drink with dad until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. at night and we could never sleep…. he was one of the most annoying ones…. just the sight of his drunken obnoxious face turned me off.. there was something slimy about him too, the way he looked at women… he had a very hoarse voice and looked like an uglier version of that actor…. what was his name….. who played “Zorba the Greek”. Why is it I can’t remember anything anymore, the names of trees or people or flowers…. the stars…. just as well they are gone too now…

I felt like being on a beach instead of a concert… as soon as I sat down and sensed the two people behind me staring at my neck I could almost feel their breath… they were both eating chips and nuts and had water bottles that made a lot of noise….all through the movie they were rattling their crinkly plastic wrappers…… I wanted very badly to turn around and slap them violently in their fat faces……

I’m hungry again sitting here… realized all I had was coffee and a piece of that tart I made for Jill and Tad… that Jacques Pepin tart I have been making all summer for friends and people at church… I used plucots, black plums, peaches and apricots in the filling and glazed it with apricot preserves ..the tart has a lot of butter in the crust… one and a half sticks in one tart… and then you dot it with butter just before baking it…and sprinkle a small spoonful of sugar on the filling and crust.

I left the tart out all night because I don’t like the taste of refrigerated tarts…. I’m supposed to give Tad and Jill and Jen a couple of pieces later today and now I’m worried it may be poisoned from sitting on the kitchen table all night… so I ate a big piece…. flaky buttery pastry with a slight density like short crust, the filling the texture of velvety jam.  Not too sweet…tiny pieces of almonds amid the fruit… there is a layer of sugar/almond meal at the bottom. The whole thing tasted like what?  Summer I guess.   What is summer? What is a plucot? I wondered if I should have peeled all the fruit ….as it is it took about an hour to wash, halve, pit and slice the pieces up…. No, I didn’t need to peel them,  the peels just melted down almost to a syrup….  I ate it two hours ago so if it was bad I’d be dead already.  I’m not.

My neighbor is out gardening.  Fixing her flowers, watering, deadheading… she is not wearing a hat and it is very hot and humid out.. she is very blond… she has a very pleasant face… what does that mean?… her voice sometimes reminds me of my mother… that kind of low almost alto soprano but it’s definitely high but not screechy.  Why is it I can’t describe anything anymore?  My neighbor has a good heart and sometimes when I look at her I feel like crying.  We’ve been through sicknesses and deaths and all sorts of horrors together over the last few years…… my neighbors are too good for me….why is this even important… in case I die in case that tart really will kill me and if she reads this  she’ll know I really liked her after all……

The dishes are half finished.  Baking makes such a mess. The table and chairs and floors are dusted with flour.  It even gets on the paintings on the walls…. on the boom box sitting on the counter, on the dial even.  I was playing Leonard Cohen all day yesterday and kept pressing play over and over again.. and noticed there was a thin line of dough even there. Then there are the baking sheets that have baked on fruit juice all over them, and all the mixing spoons and bowls.  It takes two hours just to clean up after baking and I keep baking and baking and baking… and I keep listening to Leonard Cohen more and more.

A friend bought me The Complete Studio Albums Collection for my birthday.  I adore Leonard Cohen.  What does that mean anyway adore?  Well, I adore him, even though I don’t know what that means anymore. More than just about anyone.  I could listen to him forever.  I was afraid to even put on the CD’s.  I just started listening to them yesterday… over a month since I got the gift.  Once I put on a Leonard Cohen CD, that’s it, that’s the end I just listen and listen and listen and listen until I am in another world.. in a sort of trance…stupor….daze…. torpor… but a good one.  I forget everything and remember everything and I want nothing and I want everything.   I love him like I love trees.  Leonard.  He seems so solid. Solidly beautiful and sad and depressing and jubilant and mind-blowing everything.  I can almost smell him.

Dear Leonard I am very sad you are dead. Thank you for your ever perfect music.  And, I truly love your voice, with or without the beautiful women back up singers.

Really it’s like I told you last night as we were walking through the dark and leafy streets from the train station… I wish I could walk fifty miles now in the dark in the dark night among all these tall elms and chestnuts and crabs and lindens and beeches, what else is there? What else is left.  I have walked these streets now for almost two decades and should know each and every tree and all the names by now.  Of all the trees and all the flowers and all the shrubs. I suddenly felt a need to feel something tangible something real something good.   I walked up to a huge tree trunk and wrapped myself around it… It felt like what?  It was a tree.   Hard old wood.  How could something that hard be alive?

What was that smell there in the dark as we walked by that last house…. deep and dusky and slightly patchouli like… I never liked patchouli, always reminds me of slovenly hippies.  No offence against hippies.  Some hippies are my best friends. You know what I mean… that smell from the 70’s and 80’s… but it always smelled slightly delicious, mysterious, intense and sexy… slightly musky….  When it was about a block away. Then just as it was disappearing forever, you decided you loved it.

It’s the boxwood you said.  I never heard of boxwood having a smell. This was church like, incense like, like the burning roses and ashes at my father’s cremation… this was like the ghost of Buddha, this was like that small church in Ukraine in the woods up in the Carpathians where we waited and waited and waited for the priest to come by ….. he came finally and we sat around his wooden table and drank cherry wine with his Rapunzel like wife and children… he played the accordion for us….  no this smell was like life and death and dark clouds like it may have come from that huge cloud we saw last Thursday remember?  The one that looked like Hiroshima… the one that was a huge white almost neon mushroom cloud like the one they raised in New Mexico was it 1943?  When was it?  Well it came back. Thursday.   I got so excited I couldn’t find the iPhone then, and when I did it was so frightening I couldn’t take the picture… the other side of the sky had an oval painting drawn by that 19th century Japanese landscape painter …what was his name?  The one who painted that famous mountain…

So we kept walking you and I in the dark, the beautiful all forgiving secret passage of night… our own little night train… speeding and yet still and speeding again and everything went all fuzzy suddenly… my head hurts on the right side… the bone there, a piece of my skull is frightened half to death of something… that coming you know.. like…”… by the twitching of my thumb….. something wicked this way comes…..”     yesterday upon the stair I saw a man who was not there…. I saw him there again last night… I wish I wish he’d go  away….” I can’t quite remember that passage…. a poem someone wrote a long time ago and I heard it in some B horror movie… it has such a strange and beautiful rhythm…

I keep smelling that smell and I tell you it is not incense it’s something coming something about to explode it might be very loud or it might be very silent.. like these trees these trees I can almost feel their hearts their minds… I think they have a soul… I can smell them… you said that you know that there are fairies and elves who take care of our gardens at night… you are not a person who would say something like that…I think of you as being very pragmatic, very scientific almost, you are after all a highly trained musician, but ah, yes you are a gardener, a very magic gardener… so yes you must see these fairies or elves or sorcerers in your garden… working their magic….

I feel lost and hungry now.  All the tarts are gone, given away to friends– two of whom I may not see ever again, or for a very very long time.  They are moving 2,000 miles away.  I think Fukushima might be poisoning us or maybe it’s the government.  My phone was making a funny clicking sound the entire time I was talking to my sister. “What’s that?” she said on and on during the conversation while I told her not to be so paranoid……stop it I told her.   Stop being paranoid.  She is very paranoid…  And now here I am again in the garden sitting here in the grey humid garden feeling the entire loneliness of what is to come….it started to rain a little while ago,  just a few drops… the beautiful lush green garden of just two days ago seems different, there are patches of yellow everywhere that the tiny rabbits have made, the voracious little ones are out now and they eat everything.

The infernal Japanese beetles that I used to hunt four times a day with my sudsy jar… I thought they were gone but they are back with a vengeance… hundreds of leaves on hostas buddleias hydrangeas viburnums all have those jagged edges and holes. The beautiful pink old roses that I wait months for!…. didn’t even last a day.. those insidious creatures ate them from inside out and it was too late before I found them.

A panic has set it in,  panic of nothing done panic of things to come panic of disorder and order and setting things back and front and inside out and upside down again.. I rushed to the dining room window and looked for the spider that has been there at night looking at me through the glass dancing two feet away while suspended in his web….. the spider is gone, may be out hunting. …. but the web, the finely woven intricate web is there and I see now some tiny little prisoners ensnared inside…

The panic setting in and I hear Leonard Cohen singing “Dance Me to the End of Love”…….. “dance me to your beauty with a burning violin dance me through the panic til I’m gathered safely in.. lift me like an olive branch… be my mourning dove…. dance me….”……… …I’m caught here, caught like the tiny little things in the spider’s web, alone and panicked and feeling everything and everyone in the garden… so I have to close my eyes now very tight and see myself walking down that street again, that street full of tall old breathing trees and smelling that incense of some far away eastern church turning maybe into Patchouli and I’m walking down Patchouli avenue with my old friend Leonard Cohen to those blazing violins that are coming now to comfort the dying and the dead…..










Posted in Always the Garden, Eating, Drinking, Cooking, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When Your Roommate is a Hummingbird

You might find me weeping today in the garden.  Today, on a day of immeasurable beauty.  No man or woman or child has ever seen, made, or been to such a place.

It started last night after coming home from a party… all I wanted to really do was flee to the garden, to the night, the moon and the stars, hidden now by these blazing cities of  light.   Even neighbors have their floodlights on, aimed at the garden so it looks pretty to them sitting there in their living room and looking at if from far away… they are lighting up the beds of birds and squirrels and raccoons, skunks and moths and caterpillars, tiny scary spiders and goodness knows, even those despicable possums.. the sad little demons of the underworld who look so sad, and are, because the world hates them so….. now even they cannot sleep because they cannot close the blinds against these infernal human nights.

My garden is dark … I let the trees and shrubs grew wide and tall and maybe they are a little too wide and too tall….. but not for me. They hide the houses and the lights, the wires and the windows, the TV’s blaring screens….. they hide all the small restless animals who also need their sleep and dreams, and I hear them there in the quiet velvet of the night, and they feel and see and hear me too, while I wander there in the dark thanking God for every leaf, tree, shrub and flower that graces this small world of mine… smaller than small, insulated, internal, lonely, maybe solitary, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The wine tastes better in the garden, the coffee, the tea, even water from a tap.  But the wine this dark and breezy evening… the breeze like some enchanted temptress in the dark, the ruffles of that breeze scented with the black earth still slightly damp from Wednesday’s storm, the small pieces of cut grass drying from Francisco’s mowing Thursday, the air delicious from the roses dying on the arbor and the petals falling on the lawn… the grapes still green and hard but ripening, the goldenrod starting, just starting, the Japanese anemones in full bloom across the street in the park… and outside in my front garden they are growing miraculously inside a huge arborvitae and decorating it like some kind of summer Christmas tree…. and inside the tiny tired birds are sleeping….

There was a spider weaving its intricate lacy web outside my window… I saw it ten o’clock last night while I peered outside to see if there was a star or moon or night bird out there weeping… I thought I heard them moaning, a slight murmuring of ancient sadness that we have sometimes in late August, when things are starting a little bit to  open up their mouths as though to say something, or sightly raise the leaf or hand as if in greeting but they are really saying goodbye.

There were strong gusts last night, strong enough to bang the hanging pots against the house walls and windows, the doors were rattling, and the evergreens  were scratching the guest room windows upstairs like an angry someone clawing to get in… the spider in its own web was dancing, moving up and down and side to side and the moon was rather bright and I could see that spider dancing there… I counted and saw it had eight legs….. up and down and sideways it was slowly dangling and even dancing, and then the spider turned completely upside down as though to show my startled googly eyes ..”.oh look at me and see what I can do!”….. it was so strange and so unique I had to turn away because I could have watched that spider into eternity…

The things we see when we are alone… the things we know.. the things we hear….the things we taste so desperately…. so breakfast…. and it was good.. the potatoes, peppers and onions, the chicken sausages the size of my little fingers… oh what delicious sausages!  Like a farmer like a lumberjack like a hunter like the old-time fisherman I am not… I ate that breakfast as though I worked hard labor for ten years, as though I worked for 24 hours straight, as though I was a fireman or policeman saving helping dousing everything with Balm of Gilead…..thank you Ms. Amy Lou…. the soft scrambled eggs with cream and butter, the herbs fresh from the garden  (though the chives are growing in a thicket of weeds and gravel and dandelions… but no one needs to know).

I am a wanderer in my garden in the night I am a wanderer in the world now without light I live in solitary confinement here in my small circle of trees and shrubs and flowers and grasses… that I water, weed, lament and complain over.  Oh these weary feet of mine now have walked up and down these paths for almost twenty years… I have seen trees cut down all around me houses going up like mammoths all around me.  Sometimes I just want the big dinosaurs to come and eat it all up again. Everything –the houses, the garden and all the tree-killers, all the speeding noisy cars and their exhaust… and please please me…… even those yapping little dogs everywhere day and night that are never silent…..

I am so tired now. Exhausted.  Exempt. Deleted. Erased even from my own memory of what I was, am, and what I wanted to be.  The lack of clarity the lack of understanding anything anymore, even wanting anything human any more… can wear you out… oh but now I remember the tiny delicious happiness of the lingonberries…

I found a small round jar with a beautiful label, even the lid was all swirly and curvy and pretty.   I opened it and served it with the toast for breakfast.  Oh My God!  Why do we invoke God the supreme being to express our joy at something so simple, a piece of pie or cake a chocolate chip cookie? A ham sandwhich.   But these preserves… they had tiny tiny tiny little berries the size of peppercorns, they were plump nuggets of silent juiciness…. bright cherry red and they popped in your mouth and your mouth exploded in red juice that was tart and sweet and mellow and slightly acidic and was better than strawberries, cherries, raspberries put together, or maybe it was all of them rolled into one… and the juice, the bright slightly jammy juice was like a luscious summer elixir created by little fairies just to put on your Trader Joe sprouted wheat toast.  Oh My God Oh My God my breakfast friend probably thought I was bereft of reason and finally tasted the lingonberry preserves too… silence…..he thought it was good,  but I thought in my solitary lonely departing summer requiem that it was SENSATIONAL…. oh my mouth was singing oh my mouth was thinking how delicious it would be on vanilla pudding tapioca pudding custard ice cream blinis little pancakes sponge cake with whipped cream….. Oh Sweden Thank you!  Thank you all you happy little icy blonde healthy Swedish ones dancing around the maypoles in Bergman’s garden …..

I digress from the loneliness of this August summer day…. I have not even finished the breakfast dishes I talked to my sister who lives so far away for over an hour I looked at the same two butterflies floating in and out of my garden for an hour…. I listened to three little dogs shrieking outside my front garden and told them and their owners to shut up…… I walked back defiantly down the long gravelly driveway while they told me to shut up silently………actually the driveway is not that long….. I wish it was a mile long I wish it was a century long I wish it was a whole galaxy long and we were all away from each other….. and walking down the driveway I saw the big pots of tomatoes that are a little sad too because August has not been hot enough the morning glories I let them grow now  on the gravel driveway and they turn their purple heads to me and say enough is not enough….. and the big squash that I transplanted a few weeks ago is growing next to a miserable tiny tomato but it seems very happy and then I remember earlier what was there and it was so tiny and so solitary even more solitary than me…

Earlier there was a humming bird in the garden… just as we were sitting down to have coffee there… sitting in two chairs that I placed right outside the back door so you can watch the birds bathe in the bird bath and they won’t get scared….. birdsong all around and those two butterflies flying… one monarch and the other the deep dark black one with yellow and five indigo blue dots …..there it was the humming bird way back in the garden and I called out its name and it flew in and out and then quickly went away…

The garden calls out again the monarch is hanging upside down from a dark lavender Buddleia flower joining all the other solitary dancers singers trapeze artists in the tiny sanctuary there….. and now I remember after everyone was gone and I went back again and sat there in the garden drinking the cold coffee from those small white cups with the circle of gold around the rim… the ones my mother so excitedly gave me one Christmas Eve… there it was the hummingbird, come back closer and closer almost to my very chair entertaining me with all sorts of upside down and sideways flying and dancing and it was a  very very tiny hummingbird tinier even than most, and it danced and danced away all by itself in my garden and it knew and I knew we both knew that we were solitary partners now in this solitary garden that will never ever go away…


















Posted in Always the Garden, Eating, Drinking, Cooking, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nabokov Summer Day Part II

Steamy it was, but a good kind of steamy.  It’s August now and I didn’t think the “dog days” were coming because suddenly late July was so cool.  I read somewhere that dog days don’t refer to hot and muggy days but to the dog-star that rises and sets with the sun.  Most people can’t even see stars anymore.  But I feel just like a tired dog right now… so for me dogs days are hot and tired days, hot and steamy days, or maybe just a tired, foggy brain.

Dropped to fifty degrees one night and the tomatoes aren’t happy.  In the morning they looked rather surprised.  Frozen, stultified.  One just stopped growing completely. Doesn’t even set out flowers.  It was very small from the beginning, but they all were.  But this one plant stays very small, yet has a few tomatoes growing right at its wobbly little top.   One ripened a couple of weeks ago.  I ate it.  It’s called Chocolate sprinkles.  It didn’t taste like chocolate at all.  One plant started yellowing and the leaves got brown but it had about two dozen tomatoes turning orange and then bright yellow.  Tiny little things. I came home from work the other day and ate them all.

Suddenly those sharp pangs again.  Worse than real pain.  Wanting to be alone far away in desolate fields or forest or a deserted Robinson Crusoe kind of  beach … a nice beach with tame lake or ocean so I could swim. And no cannibals.   Or a farm.  A real farm somewhere with real crops growing.  Real food.  The corn must be getting high now.  But the corn may be confused too.  It’s been hot and cold then warm.  Hot nights, humid nights, and very cold nights.  A lot of rain fell and then none.  The corn is not happy.  There is no real corn in the stores.  A farm far away then, where the corn is growing. It’s sweet.  You can eat it raw.  Yes, I would like to be in the middle of a corn field where the corn is ripening and the sky above is true blue and cumulus clouds are sailing by in the shape of ships and whales and dinosaurs.

The park just now.  Intense silence made more silent by the mass shrilling of cicadas but not shrilling.  Shrill is a madman or madwoman angry, stupid or confused. This was mad delirium in the park, this was scintillating conversation,  the rustling of ten thousand wings of pleasure reminding you they are alive … this was the personification of the steamy warm fogginess of air, the perfumes wafting… Where was it all coming from?  I thought it was the Joe Pye weed six or seven feet tall now in lovely rosy masses.  I put my face in it but nothing. Then I saw a small low shrub with fluffy cork shaped flowers, and  bent down to put my face in them.  The shrub was at the edge of the Joe Pye weed growing in a patch of dirt.

That tiny flower was the source of the fragrance and I stayed bent down until I could bend no more…… the whole park smelled like this flower. White, pure, rare, part dried grass from the mowing yesterday, part dirt, part what?  Air? Cloud?  Heat?  The blue sky?  All the gasps and whispers, shouts and cries of children playing?  The smell of the long-haired blond girls sitting idly on the bench by Mom’s memorial tree?  Staring at their tripod looking like a wicked grasshopper…..was it the ball they were kicking so lethargically rolling on the newly mowed lawn, like hooves of thick furred lambs wandering, their padded feet mingling with tiny leaves and grasses, the sun and lingering dew churning them into some new pasture?

It’s foggy because I really don’t see, foggy because I really don’t hear, foggy because I really don’t know… what is that flower?  I used to have it in my garden and watched and watched and waited every spring until those frothy cork-like things appeared…and I remembered that smell from almost twenty years ago.  The little shrubs are now drowned out by other flowers, shrubs, and trees but somewhere deep down in the earth they are releasing their fragrance still..

No birds out there today, not one.  Just the new world cicada symphony playing, screaming, hey daying, shouting, reveling, celebrating this hot and steamy day, and the grasses are expiring, exuding some scent of dying green that turns to summer hay..

What was in that park that for the second day running I can’t explain…  Heat.  Silence.  Cicadas.   Order.  Disorder.  The shearing of the grass… the fog …  the grass’s second coming….   Grass perfume grass air grassy fields like green wheat like green seas like green dreams like green beds to finally rest in.   Rose colored flowers tall as trees.   Black eyed Susans wide as fields.

A hissing steaming bubbling simmering sound like someone making a potion. Something is missing and something will be added.  Footsteps that are searching and searching and smelling like an alchemist trying to turn it into gold.  A cook looking for that special herb tasting and tasting and not knowing.   The receipt is gone.  The recipes all gone… ingredients too… .. it’s Richard Harrison singing ” someone left the cake out in the rain…. ohhh noooo…….. and  ….I’ll never find the recipe again…ohh noooooo…”

The turning and twirling of things, those old willows that are gone, but maybe the old roots are still churning, maybe the old heart is still burning, the ground about to collapse or shoot up like a geyser, the whole park an upheaval, turned upside down all the flowers of all the past seasons, all their tiny little ghosts smiling shining as they are expiring..

The great alchemy it is ongoing, and the great perfumer too, already knows the day is waning, and even though high summer is just only starting, it is already ending too…. …and these cicadas now that you are hearing and they are singing madly singing wildly singing oh so very loudly, listen and you will hear them screaming screeching madly begging……  oh go on go on already… go go go away….

The river near the bus stop as I was leaving… the water is low and the water is muddy brown and cloudy, long seaweed hairs like mermaids underwater swimming, going far away and never coming back, some things that look like clam shells gleaming, but the river is not a river anymore, full of plastic bags that are shining, fallen golf balls from tired old golfers dying….from vast manicured lawns rolling in and out of the muddy rocks…. and gum wrappers are glinting at the bottom with the other bric a brac while dull and sullen eyes are watching… the last pieces of red and blue neon paints are glaring….

Give me the frosty icicle river with pools of shooting stars, with foam frothing, with whiteness gleaming, with fresh ice flowing, a thousand glinting gold and pink diamonds sparkling, and the water high the trees bare the sky grey and trees like black fingers poking through the air… and the air sharp and clean and bright, like peppermint patties in your child mouth melting….

So the park this noon this high noon as I was walking and the whole screaming cicada sky charging as I stand still as a dead bird like the one in the garage rotting…. where is the sun where is the sun where is the fragrance where oh where oh where is it all coming from?

Posted in Bus Stop Stories, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Thousand Eyes

You would need a thousand eyes to see it all.  The garden.   And a thousand ears to catch it all.  Every trill and whistle, every tiny peep, croak,  starting and ending note of every lullaby and every morning song…… Every tiny happy sigh or startled gasp from the tiniest bird or insect flying, crawling or sailing through the leaves and grass, and roses  that are breathing again, at last…

Woke up late.  So late again!  Six a.m. and the world already starting.  Turning.  A little  bit of crazy twirling.  The sky was so blue and the sun starting to come out and didn’t know whether to turn the puffs of sailing clouds peach or apricot or some other baby hue….

I rushed out to water because the rain didn’t come again.  First a deluge and floods and torrential rain that sounded like 10,000 soldiers marching… on my roof.. and the hail, like baseballs…the lashing  and crashing and running to the basement again and then all around the house and basement up and down the stairs to see if it was all still there…

And then, that day walking through the park, just before the storm that evening… walking and it was so still so eerie hot and quiet and even the flowers and the grasses and the big old trees were holding their breath, and the air had that glassiness that seeing things through a foggy mistiness,  seeing and hearing something hidden and dark and where were the birds hiding?  It was a glistening… I was the only one walking all the frightened people were hiding, and the park was mine mine mine alone… like the summer day in that small Russian town in the Nabokov story… that story I read somewhere and cannot find.. for years and years I have been searching for that story, because he captured it Nabokov did…. the perfect summer day in all its sad and lovely bittersweet fleeting beauty and glory.  He captured every sight and sound and human feeling, even that of every rock and weed and evaporating cloud, he captured it even like Chopin, Beethoven, Grieg and all the other musical geniuses never did….. not even Debussey…..and maybe that’s why in the end the favorite thing he liked to do was play chess with Vera in that apartment high up in the clouds in Switzerland….

The front garden how to describe it.  I can’t.  The golds and lavendars and pinks, the mottled yellows with rusty red.  I can’t.  The blues, the whites, the winey black bordeaux claret sun blooded wine rusted dahlias spreading themselves out like exotic slaves on the grassy boudoir floors… I can’t.  And the almost roaring of the purples… just that one lone morning glory sitting at the top of the Delphinium’s second blooming…..

And the sky.  It was blue and I needed to water.  And the sun was yellow like faded lemons.  Then bright again like an Aztec medallion… then faded into nothingness into a swampy mist that covered the entire sky… then the sun came out again.  Then the sky grew higher and higher and was covered in wide and thin grey mists as though Scotland was just born on your lonely little street….. and the sun completely disappeared… I watered and watered and watered for the life of me and the life of things…. oh grow my roses!  Grow and grow and grow and fill the air with your perfume that no other blossom has or has ever known…..

I watered and watered, dragging the long and heavy old green weathered hose like an ancient snake. Dragging it through gravel and stones, rocks and grass, and still the birds hid and then came out on the sidewalks and driveway and the grass and the trees and the shrubs and drank the flowered water…. the phlox are everywhere again.. in every shade of pink, dark and light and mottled and shady and dusty and dusky, and bright as your tiny little baby eyes….. and everything sparkles now it gleams and glistens and it’s moist and fresh and clean and renewed and young and supple and growing and growing again… and the air.  The air!  How can you describe the something nothing that is and isn’t there?

You would need a thousand eyes and ears and a thousand noses to breathe in all the perfume all the water and nectar and mist and tears and juices flowing now from grape and grass and flower from sky and earth and every tiny leaf…

Wordsworth, Longfellow, Tennyson, Burns and Auden, Keats and Byron and even Dylan Thomas’ “Fern Hill”,   William Butler Yeats in the “Lake Isle of Innisfree” did not capture it, and cannot, no one can and ever will …capture all this beauty .. because you would need a thousand eyes a thousand ears a thousand noses and hearts and souls and minds and you would need at least a thousand years to live and understand this one perfect day…..









Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments