"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paper Lanterns

For the last post of August, let’s talk about the upside of drought and unrelenting heat. Let’s assume this record heat (August was the sixth driest and the hottest on record for the Great Lake State) is not a harbinger of what's to come, climate upturned on its axis, chill in the desert of Palmdale where my sister lives and asphyxiation in the upper midwest. So what can be an upside to drought? First, there are no mosquitoes. I mean, not one single solitary bloodsucker is left in the Thumb of Michigan. Second, in the still of the exhausted summer night outdoor candles stay lit. They burn all night, inspire and enthuse, the only draft the flutter of a moth's wing before it's coerced into the fire. Paper lanterns sway next to the Boston ferns, and I think of swaying to the dance in a gauzy skirt the color of summer.


Let's talk veggies and the bounty of summertime. Melons that won't usually fatten in Michigan have thrived in the record heat. Cantaloupe and Sugar Baby watermelons, fully seeded for the future, have graced our tables—homestead and market. Tomatoes dropping ripe from the vine take all our time-salsa, canning, and bread salad. Peppers ripening to red and orange in the heat take no backseat to tomatoes. Volunteer cilantro from last year's planting sprouts underneath the soaker hoses in the pepper row as if they know their rightful place, and we pick and we pick and we pick. The butternut and delicata winter squash are a golden tan with skins that cannot be pierced with a fingernail, hence ready for harvest.

So what does this have to do with writing? What, I say, doesn't it have to do with it? We eat to live and writers live to write. I drink and eat and write. I bemoan my ability to keep up but the harvest is plentiful and I persevere and tend my soaker hoses and baby my laptop and long for the time to bring a new novel to fruition. I listen to music that gives me goose bumps like John Lennon’s Working Class Hero and then I go back outside to watch Orion march across the southern sky, because I have to. The new moon is dark and hidden like a story aching to surface. I’m writing about the secret everyone in my family knows but no one talks about. What are you afraid to write about? What are you waiting for?

9 comments:

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Once again your writing is so rich with lush detail that I felt like I was there in the garden plucking vegetables, there under the starry sky, there as the moth sizzles.
Whatever secrets you bring to light in writing will be lush, as well. That I am sure of.

Anthony Duce said...

Liked this a lot. I haven’t liked the heat as much; it’s been uncomfortable some days even to be out in Lake Huron for a sail. It does have its benefits both in the garden and in air-conditioned or breezy places with a computer or some paints.

Jemi Fraser said...

Lovely descriptions - you draw me completely in! Lovely :)

Yvonne Osborne said...

Tricia,
Thanks so much! I wish you really were here. I think we'd have a blast!

Anthony,
The heat has been too much this summer and if you can't cool down on Lake Huron where else can one go? I don't like air conditioning but sure would love to be out on that boat! Thanks so much.

Jemi,
Hi! Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

foldingfields said...

Your words are a gift. I needed this post--to fill up on good food. Thanks very much!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Sarah,
Thanks! I'm glad you liked this. Your comments are a gift.

izzy said...

Lovely! I tripped over your comment recently when I was looking for something - and I'm glad I did!
Another gardener and writer- great!
We have had heat this summer too and my garden came up roses except for pumpkins and melon! We actually got corn which is unusual- We do have mosquito's but also a few bats I'm praying for swallows but they live in a bigger barn down the road.
Thanks and keep writing- not that we have much choice...

Liza said...

I don't know where I've been, but I just found this post and I love it. Your words are so rich, and nourishing and clear and beautiful. Wonderful.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Izzy,
Thank you! I just now came across your comment. It's a pleasure to meet you. Yes, isn't it funny how a childhood fear of bats turns into adult admiration? Thanks again for stopping here.

Liza,
Thank you. Just....thanks.