Awaiting the arrival of snow peas for my dinner table, I had plenty of time to pull the occasional crabgrass from the largely open expanse of soil that had been my wonderful garden earlier in the year. The peas were an experiment to discover whether or not seeds planted in July could produce a harvest in August or September. I considered what I could do with the stalks of the sunflowers after birds had harvested their seeds, and I watched for more bush beans to appear.
|More Produce Rolling In on July 11th of 2016|
Meanwhile, I noted that walking on the dormant grass of the lawn, a tawny tan in August, sounded much like striding on the frosted grass of earliest spring: crunch, crunch, crunch with each step.
On a special day, I observed a large Zebra Swallowtail gracefully sailing among the flowers. Its silvery stripes imparted elegance to its form. Where I live, the Black Swallowtails are the most numerous; the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, the second most numerous. I seldom spot a Spicebush Swallowtail, but I may be mistaking them for Black Swallowtails. The Tigers are my immediate topic. They are energetic, as if they might be coffee lovers having imbibed a bit too much caffeine. They rapidly flit from blossom to blossom before darting way toward the tops of the trees. The Zebra Swallowtail was much more serene. Its smooth movements made the tranquility of the scene all the more noticeable. The Zebra was in harmony with its surroundings, and, as I was part of its environment, I was in tune with it. I watched and watched until it floated away.
|Empty Spaces in My Garden After Removal of Carrots|
I realized just how pleased I was to have tried a second season of gardening, even if circumstances had reduced my crop to only one vegetable: snow peas. In the extreme heat and humidity of summer, I was given time to keep my garden spot entirely free of weeds and to watch a Zebra Swallowtail hovering above the petals of sweet flowers.
The metamorphosis of the butterfly never fails to inspire my sense of awe. The same creature that is a larva during one phase of its existence becomes a pilot capable of exquisite flight in another chapter of its life. What would it be like if we were to reach a certain age when we would go to sleep for a time, after which we would awaken with wings to lift us lightly into the air? Perhaps our lifetimes are the preparation for that flight. My friend Mary, whose story served to initiate my blogging, often said she was earning her wings.
|A Cat Among My Squash Plants|
I stood near my garden and asked if the individual human life indeed extends beyond the grave, and, at that moment, a cicada alighted on my nose and chattered before dashing off. I laughed aloud! Walt Whitman’s lines rushed into my recollection: “Ya-honk [the wild gander] says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation … I listening close, / Find its purpose … .” Chee-chee-chee the cicada said like an invitation to me. I recalled a passage from Chuang Tsu: “A cicada and a young dove laugh at Peng, saying, ‘When we try hard we can reach the trees … .’”* Summer gardening welcomed me to experience far more than I would have thought possible.
*Chuang Tsu Inner Chapters: A New Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English (New York: Vintage, 1974).