There is a point in the fall when the sun’s trajectory has changed so much that, even if it’s still hot out (hi), it feels like fall. Your body can tell the difference. You begin to crave Long Pants and Closed-Toed Shoes Time, though that time is not yet nigh. You think you smell the guts of a pumpkin on the air like sweetwater when you walk out the door in the morning.
Last night I told some friends about how I have been having very emotional dreams lately, and how several times I’ve woken up crying. In one such case, a bunch of stern nurses were draining fluid from my kidneys and showing it to me, tutting about how this was beginning to look like “an abandonment situation.” This has become an instant joke phrase in my house: anything catastrophically (or just compellingly, or humorously) wrong is an abandonment situation. That wasn’t even the part of the dream that made me cry.
On the whole, it has been a nice week if you ignore the world at large; if you ignore the election and the circumstances around it; if you ignore the feeling of something wicked but small crawling over the surface of your life and gnawing off pieces of it. I’ve been trying to do that ignoring, to balance it with the doing of good for the future. Compartmentalization, you might call it. There’s no real mystery about why I cry in my sleep.
Last weekend I turned the earth in my garden and planted seeds for the fall, which is the best time to grow most things here. Or start growing them, anyway. I have so far been rewarded by quite a few sprouts, of which I am disproportionately proud. As always, I tried more things than will work; I planted ranunculus bulbs, and who knows how that will go. I bought some hollyhock. Most of the garden is vegetables, because I was deeply satisfied by the armfuls of kale I harvested this past winter and spring. A friend sent me a planting set of colorful vegetables, so I have planted purple carrots along with my regular carrots; colorful brussels sprouts and rainbow chard.
Now I get to water these seeds every morning. It’s still, as I’ve said, very hot in the day, but cool enough at night that some of the water is doing its work. One of my close friends in town came over and had dinner in our backyard, and it was so nice to see her that I kept saying, “I miss you! I love you!” even though, practically speaking, I didn’t miss her right then, because she was there, in front of me. Things feel very fragile, don’t they? There is a sense of the ephemeral over all of us, like pollen. It makes the nose itch. It’s just always there.
Gardens in places other than Tucson do, I think, do better in general. My dad’s planting boxes are always full of strawberries the size of a baby’s head. But there is something satisfying about summer here, as winter elsewhere; the visual confirmation that what ends can begin again. In June or July, you just let it die. You let it go, and then with a bit of work you get it back again.