The passion flower in Jill and Ronn's community garden sings a siren call, "Come in, come in, Robley!"
But I know my limits.
Overgrown, the garden provides refuge for the noseeums that plague my cancer scar and the flesh behind my knees -- the dreaded chiggers. Already this week, I haven't slept two nights because some sneaked through my Insect Shield pants and married my flesh.
I know the fuchsia flowers in the Community Gardens, their outrageous color -- a celebratory scream of life. I know their uplifted blossoms, their fragile stems. I know the way they crumple, folding like carelessly discarded scarves. I know the pleasures they afford for butterflies, bees, and me.
This year, though, they fill me with sadness, not glee. In their glorious unfolding and folding, I think of Charley in college, at the peak of his strength onstage and off, and now as his strength ebbs, racing out into a great sea of suffering and death.
May he become part of the red sunset on the Frio River wall he sees from his porch, the pulse of a Texas spring, the blue flame of a bluebell, the fodder for some one glorious thing that pushes up in spring.
It is as Gertrude says, "common; all that lives must die."
In late afternoon, the elusive Common Green Darner, on patrol for the smaller Slaty Skimmer and Widow Skimmer, chases them with Quidditch speed and turn, leaving me ever on the hunt for just one good picture.
came by late last week to help me install a new window sash. This morning, I called on him to deliver my promised orange-cranberry scones in payment for his generosity.
When Tom first made a house call to my abode several years ago (to install a new faucet for my kitchen sink), we spent more time chatting than working. I paid a paltry sum for the labor that he kept insisting wasn't "rocket science" and promised scones as a special treat.
From the sidewalk, he made the sign of the cross, blessed me, and said I should refer to him from then on as my House Priest.
"Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table: that's the end." So says Hamlet.
So says nature.
A fallen tree becomes the nursery of fungus.
All living beings: recyclables constantly becoming other.
This is the kind of reincarnation in which I believe.
May I fat a dragonfly like an Eastern Pondhawk, or forest flower, or aqua-dusted wing edge, or molecule of haze bluing Lost Cove.
My friend Charley has lung cancer, stage five, and will soon be at home with hospice.
I have to have a tooth implant, which I can't afford financially but can't afford to live without in terms of my oral health.
But on this day when competing claims battle inside me, a female Widow Skimmer befriended me, climbing up on my shoe, then my finger, then my shirtsleeve, clinging minutes, before flitting downward, settling into grass to strengthen while I admired her golden face and smoky wings.
Perhaps her trust, perhaps the stillness of our connection will still my anxiety in facing things as they are.
On Facebook today, my friend Julie posted this from "The Language of Work" by Mark Kingwell (Harper's, July 2011): "Genuine idling is never an evasion of work; it is instead, as Aristotle argued long ago, cultivation of the most divine element in us through the exercise of leisure: spirited but serious reflection on who we are and what we up to, free from the base demands of mere usefulness."
Maybe that's what I've been up to with my camera and all these bugs: idling like this walking stick, cultivating a new and improved view.