I’ve never been a great fan of Summer, much less August when the garden seems to explode in lush havoc and what flowers remain are zombies hanging on to former glory. There is the thought however that she, the Gaia garden, might very well be a floral crone passing through a vegetative Bardo on her way to Spring and thus fulfilling a destiny of completion and its never ending cycle of diversity and change. This is how addled old professors think in the heat of the noon-day sun when the lights are slowing dimming and who desire play at all costs.
Andie certainly doesn’t think such thoughts. Her view of August is less prosaic and more pragmatic, because apples, olives, yellow plum-cots and peaches are falling from overripe trees and jungle girl is stealthily scouting them out as she sleuths quite expertly in the deep foliage of the overgrown fronting the fences.
I can tell when she is doing this, because Barnabas the very ancient Lab on the other side of the fence between our cottage and the preacher’s vicarage lets out with his deep rumbling woof confusing the invisible ninja Andie with that crabby a’hole squirrel, who taunts him by acrobatics worthy of Cirque Du Soliel .
One thing I do like about August are the early hours when not damp with heavy drizzle fog and the garden sparkles with dappled light making for a happier beginning of the day as Andie and I take toast time on that little Italian-tile table in the brick patio cove just outside the kitchen door. This morning was a delightful bowl of peaches and cream to begin with and followed by a toasted sesame bagel, homemade plum jam and espresso. The long arching purple buddleia, which cover the space from spring through fall are cut back now so the chaise is bathed in cool morning air and brilliant sunshine, while Andie curls up to nap and wait for adventures.
The backdoor is always open so Andie can come and go as she pleases. She never does her business back there as far as I can tell, unless I am remiss in my duty of running into the kitchen when she hurls herself against the Great Plywood Wall of Andie that separates the kitchen from the living-room. She insists on going out front on the street and demands a ransom of several small kibble treats as her pirate’s due.
The good thing about this ritual is that crabgrass will not thrive where she establishes territory. The only drawback is that the two Labs from up the street are attracted to her spots and leave deposits the size of bread loafs for me to pick up. Those tasteful, scented, little biodegradable, made with cellulose doggie bags are too small for these canine wonders and I have to resort to Safeway plastic bags, which I then have to disguise in paper bags so the neighbors won’t think I’m a wastrel abuser of the environment and committing moral outrage because of climate change.
Andie thinks I am not spending enough playtime with her this summer, because I’m working on a new book project and spend an inordinate amount of time sitting at the computer when she could be entering into sniffing euphoria’s on her way to the trash bins next door, which have fabulous things lying around like yogurt lids and cue-tips that smell like baby powder.
To remedy the situation of Andie ennui I cash in some doggy daycare coupons a generous neighbor friend gave us so that she can socialize with other dogs and be true to her canine roots. Thing is, as friendly as Andie presents she just sits by the play door for hours until I come to retrieve her. One of the workers there did say she is playing somewhat but is exclusive to Beagles, Cockapoo’s and King Charles Spaniels. Apparently Andie does not associate with Chihuahuas and makes quite clear her displeasure. I think it’s because whenever we walk past the neighbor’s house on the corner the dog opera of barking and wailing from the five inhabitants within are off-putting and Andie thinks them vulgar. Besides, last Christmas when Santa brought Andie some new walking clothing little Randie called her a Barbie Dawg in his most shrill Chihuahuanese.
She now looks the other way when we trudge to the church and back. We pass by the vicarage and its large front window, where we often see Barnabas staring out onto the street wondering why that squirrel is on a leash. The only update on that daily ritual is that the Cat Lady has moved out of her small dark cottage and on to another life, while a strange man has moved in, who works nights and has a sign that says no visitors and no solicitors. Maybe he’s Rip Van Winkle. I mean when was the last time you saw a door-to-door salesperson hawking Mary Kay carcinogenic makeup, Tupperware mavens or those cute Mormons that look like future men in black and who have given up on our neighborhood. Even that fading pile of Jehovah’s Witness Jesus cards have had no new additions in years. Is this a sign of the End Times?
Meanwhile, Andie and I head for lunch in the back under the awning of the swing. Andie gets kibble, while I indulge in a sourdough baguette with mayo, salt/pepper, fresh garden tomatoes with a soupcon of basil and washed down with some neighborhood Meyer lemonade. Andie is at work designing and renovating her summer camp under the swing by digging an attractive nesting hole addition in the dirt. Someone is getting a bath tonight..