20 tagged with #summer

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to the earth

(mentions animal death)

we walked through the quiet cove, middle-aged hemlocks locking overhead in a canopy that keeps us cool. a sight ahead stops us short; a shiny, ropey black line draped across the crook of a tree forked near the ground.

"black ratsnake," i said. a rattler would have asked us to go away by now. it wasn't moving, and i couldn't see the head from the trail, so i cautiously circled around to the other side of the tree. its eyes were hard to see, under the cloud of flies looking for a soft spot in the scales to reach the flesh.

"snake ran out of snake. it's dead for sure."

and i thought, how peaceful it must be, to know that you are out of snake, drape yourself over a log, and slowly give your body back to the forest.

later, a garter snake barely flinched when i walked past it; i bent down and looked at its healthy, full body, dark scales that gave off a rainbow sheen. it curled into a question mark, resting its chin on its body to face me.

the world is full of things.

08 June 2018 00:14

breakfast fellows

when the chipmunk creeps across the brickwork, its position is given away by the rustling of weeds above its head. it pushes its head out, looking at me while i have breakfast; experimentally, i lift an arm, in simulation of a spreading wing. faster than i can see, it's gone, leaving a trace of quivering stalks. i smile; this one has learned how to hide.

i've watched a single squirrel for years; it's old now, for sure, moving with a relaxed swagger along the curb. it's black from head to rump, with a rust-red tail and two lighter splotches on its back. this squirrel, too, flinched when i raised my arm, but only to flatten briefly while regarding me with suspicion. but it knows i'm no predator, only an occasional antagonizer.

there's a rabbit i recognize because it likes to sit in the shade of my motorcycle wheel while ripping at the plantain leaves pushing up through the brickwork. some years, i try to defoliate all the weeds myself, because the dying hemlock needles collect under them and make a startlingly slippery surface. this year, i don't think i'll bother.

05 June 2018 23:16

it's so humid

it's so humid that i cannot really see across the river, for all the water molecules trapped in the air. for all the pollen and the particles of burnt fuel and all the insects and all the fuzz from mammals shedding their coats.

on the trail ahead of me, a man paused. when i looked beyond him, i knew why; a deer was attempting to cross from one stand of trees to the next. it was probably a button buck. it almost didn't realize we were there. minutes later, i passed a group of children herded by a tired parent, but didn't bother telling them a deer was nearby.

countless toddling chipmunks scattered underfoot, some of them not even getting off the path when i pass them, because they don't see me as a threat. it's always the smallest animals that make the most noise, rustling the undergrowth in loud chattering fights. whole saplings shake when they fight, sometimes.

it's so humid.

01 June 2018 17:55


i once read a description of the weather here as dithering a one-bit system; in short, we only experience winter or summer, with daily or hourly fluctuations during transitional periods that average out to a more mild season.

today, our house lost power, briefly, and we suspect thousands of air conditioning units simultaneously switching on as the culprit. years ago, my parents and i stayed at a mid-atlantic beach house that similarly lost power during a sudden heat wave, so we decamped to a resort village down the street and pretended to care about luxury fur purses in order to cool off in their emergency generator-fed climate control systems.

year after year, i grow steadily more unhappy with the realization that my neighbors running their air conditioning makes my building hotter. sometimes i walk through alleyways of window units tetrised around each other, each one quivering with the strain of ripping heat out of one side and pushing heat into the other. hot breath, hot breath, in each other's faces. trash drawn in catches thermals and float into the sky; birds pluck them out and tuck those waxy sandwich wrappers into their own nests.

i don't need to read about dystopian nightmares anymore.

02 May 2018 22:38


on april 16th, i filled an egg carton with good dirt and put four seeds into each pod. i labeled one side 'brocc' and the other side 'sprouts', for broccoli and brussel's sprouts, respectively; a dozen pods, 24 seeds of each type.

a week later, each pod had sprouted at least one curious leaf; several sprouted all four. one sprouted something unrecognizeable. i smiled.

over the next month, i prepared a space for them in the yard. i turned up sod, mixed in compost from the previous year's worth of yard and kitchen waste, marked off rows, put up chicken wire to deter ground-walking munchers.

yesterday, may 22nd, i had a bad scare after looking at my sprouts; all of them fell flat from dehydration. over the weekend, i had forgotten to give them attention, because i could hardly take care of myself. seedlings need a little bit of attention every day, and i had let them down.

i watered them apologetically and looked to the sky, hoping that the weather would break soon and let me introduce them to the earth.

today, i put my hands in the soil and smelled the richness of a month's worth of spring rain, microorganic work, and aspirations. it was time; i pulled the egg carton out and inspected it. a few of them had responded to my apology.

i only had enough plots prepared today for six plantings, so i took the three best candidates from each side. the pods with multiple viable seedlings will eventually be thinned to one; from 48 seeds, six plants will be coddled into maturity. i made little pits with a trowel, then carefully pressed each puck of dirt and seedling into the indentations.

dirt responds best to hands. i put my hands against the cool soil and felt the density of each mound, pressing drainage channels and slowly massaging bunkers around each seedling to shelter them. 'thank you,' i whispered to each one i chose. 'thank you for working hard. thank you for pressing upwards. here is the earth and there is the sky; you are now between them and a part of them. do your best. i love you.'

those cells have never touched the earth and have never seen the sun. they sit there now, poking out of the ground like periscopes. their roots will burrow further than i will ever see, and draw matter from the soil to create more of themselves to give to the sky.

if i am worthy, i will eat some of them in the future.

23 May 2016 20:41

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