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Friday, August 7, 2015

…in the Cool of the Morning…

strings of pearlsAt six a.m. the world hasn’t had time to make trouble.

Sparrow, “Small Happiness,” The Sun magazine (July 2015)

Too many ninety degree plus days this summer and all this heat has certainly gone to my head. Case in point: I recall a dialogue between two acquaintances on the light-hearted subject of death. Party number one mused  sorrowfully that he’d miss certain things when he was dead. Party number two exclaimed: “What are you talking about? You won’t miss anything! You’ll be dead!” An abrupt end to that conversation.

Right about that, I thought, and at that point decided to take charge of their aborted exchange, redirect the tack of the subject, and set my compass to a more positive heading: “What are the those small things during the day I enjoy?”  In other words, “live in the moment.” I set myself the task of coming up with something that gave me a small happiness during the day. Day One: being able to awake, rise, and greet the new day. Day Two: Ahhhh, that first sip of morning coffee. Day three: sitting out in the evening, watching the commercial jetliners pass overhead en route to Sea-Tac, thinking about the passengers, the places they’ve been, their happy reunions at the airport with loved ones. (This small thing is a big deal to one who nearly lost the sight in his right eye twelve years ago). Day Four: continuing the vision thread, the garden these days is bursting with color, dahlias, zinnias, nasturtiums, morning glory; I see the colors through the eyes of an impressionist painter.morning glories

I’m up early, in the cool of the morning and cup of coffee in hand, have fed and watered the livestock (four chickens) and am now sauntering through the rows of garden produce. The day will be another scorcher, in the high 90’s, they’ve predicted. We’ve not had any measurable precipitation since June 1. At day’s end the cucumbers and squash vines are steamrollered by the weight of the sun. Ten minutes in the garden brings the handkerchief to the brow; the shirt clings to the skin, prelude to an afternoon shower. zinnia patch

But now I’m enjoying the gift of dew the night has left the Valley, and before Ol’ Sol wreaks its vengeance on the day, I wander the rows of beans and corn, sloshing coffee as I go. Dew: yes, the Valley does do dew; hardly a summer morning without droplets pendant from tips of leaves. Pearly teardrops pooled in the crowns of new corn remind me of my old friend Lester Broughton who was Valley-wise even though he lived in town. The first year we owned this slim acre, before our house was built, before the well was drilled, we planted our first garden, and I shared with Les the concern that we lacked means of irrigation. “Don’t need to worry about water,” he replied. “You get dew every night. That’s all the water the corn needs.” And he was right. Dew… I think about the naturalist Charles Darwin who observed that in the arid plains of Patagonia lizards and mice survive in substantial numbers without rain, subsisting on droplets of dew that collect during the night.

A month and a half without rain here in the Valley. Nearly a dozen days of ninety degree plus temps. But this morning the thirsty garden drinks. I have my coffee; the garden sips its dew.

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