The nights are cold with heavy fog, starless views, and the portents of Autumn. The August moon, so large and golden is now hidden, but its beautiful light makes glow the fog around us as Andie makes her way in the wee hours of the morning. The days follow suit until around noon, when the fog burns off and a magnificent California day begins with temps in the high seventies, clear blue skies, and the strenuous efforts of preparing the gardens for winter.
The California Evening Primrose is in its full glory this time of year. The roses are still putting out a bloom or two, which I cut and place on the Trace and Bodhi memorial altar near my bed. Andie likes that particular part of the bedroom, because when I hang my sweats on the back of the chair, her dog treats fall out and it’s party time.
Andie accompanies me on my rounds and I swear holds her dog-breath as I teeter on a ladder to reach that just out of pruning, branch. I know better at my age to do it, especially since I fell a few weeks ago trying to lift a heavy epithelium and hang it higher from the roof overhang. I had the good sense to remove a three foot metal re-bar hose guide near the ladder, because that’s where I fell. I could have impaled myself recreating a kitsch version of St. Sebastian’s arrow’d end ( the senior version). I landed in a batch of ferns and banged myself up on the parts of me that hit the brick walkway. As you can see from the above photo Andie’s thinking ‘OhMyGawd. I don’t think so! Seriously! Come down from there.’ She did rush over and licked me to see if I was still in mortal mode.
It’s hard to explain to some folks, whose lives are still in the praxis of a future unfolding, what it’s like living in the day-to-day immediacy of each passing moment as if it were the last. I am also aware that engineering a self impalement should be considered a warning survival meme that warrants a whole new choreography of gardening for the elderly challenged. I promised Andie to be more careful.
When profound grief becomes a staid reality, rather than a monumental transition, life changes in what may be called, ‘remarkable’ in many ways. Experiences in the usual world become saturated with feeling, appreciation, sensitivity, and a poignancy which is experienced as a form of joy—-that which the Japanese call aware. So, in plain speak, Andie and I bond in the enlightenment of any given moment.
At least I imagine that is going on with Andie. I suspect it is because dogs live in the ever present and leave it to us to create the future. Now that I have entered Andie’s conscious immediate world I like to think of ourselves as Arhat buddies. The garden ground, which is now covered with large, yellow heart-shaped leaves from the Catalpa ( Bodhi tree) agrees with my delusions and accents the atmosphere with karmic memorabilia of the passing seasons. Well, for all that foolishness Andie has decided it’s safer for her to rest on the chaise, catch some warm sun and watch her foolish Michael and his cirque du soleil machinations among the greenery, brown dirt, branches, pond scum and flower beds.
Working in the garden is almost a spiritual journey of sorts. It begins at the entrance gate, which suggests a magic place unfolding behind its beckoning and burgeoning overflow of flowers and color. It is here where we find resolution and peace of mind in the ever changing landscape, greet our dear friends and on occasion, the curious passerby. It is such a pleasure having Andie accompany me through the day in our garden’s meandering pathways and visual surprises. When I am tired and taking a pause in the swing, A sensible Andie decides to expand her ongoing creation of a a dug-out dirt nest under it for cool recline and to keep a more relaxed eye on my going’s about.
Her discoveries and explorations are wonderful to watch. Now that plums have come and gone , chives reduced to nubbins and bark bits are only for desperation, she has concentrated her hunting on small tomatoes on the lower branches and will carry one into the house, put it where she has placed past treasures ( in the middle of the central hall) and saves it for a later nosh.
Life is good, and as the ancient Chinese opined, it begins with a garden.