Some people measure their lives in teaspoons, but lately I’ve been measuring mine in the different insects that I murder with my own fingers. A week ago: cabbage aphids on my kale. Two days ago: tiny, despicable flies on my sunflower seedlings. Last night: a sudden plague of large moths in the hallway outside our bedroom. In each case, leading to a rampage of extreme prejudice, and in no case resulting, as yet, in total victory. (For me or the insects, I guess.)
You know how there are times when the small stuff will just roll off your back, like water off a duck, and times when it will not? Well.
My older sister was supposed to be here visiting, right now, with her family; they’ve spent their spring break with us for the past few years, and we always rent a room at the fancy nearby hotel for a night so we can swim in the pool and wander the gardens and try to keep the kids sane through tea time in the library. Right now, the hotel is boarded up: over all their entrances, they’ve placed planks painted the same dusty pink as the walls, so that, if you squint, it looks like the hotel smoothed itself over and became impenetrable, under the auspices of some sort of spell.
This is the same hotel where, last week, I solved the mystery of why people kept peering up into the trees at nothing, learning they were in fact looking at an owl’s nest. This week, I’ve seen two of the owls: an adult Great Horned Owl perched high up in one of the pine trees, and very zen, fluffy baby chilled out in the bushes by the hotel. My sense that the hotel, and maybe the world, is under a not-quite-benevolent enchantment is only increased by the sudden volume of owls. Are they signs? Protectors? I think of the harpy in The Last Unicorn taking revenge against those who’d trapped and ogled her; in this strange, unsettled time, I think of Molly Grue berating the unicorn, asking her, “How dare you, how dare you come to me now, when I am this?” I look at the owls and think, “Where have you been?”
As it happens, I solved another mystery this week: all spring I’ve been confused by a particular minty green plant proliferating in my garden, which had no clear purpose, didn’t bloom, simply got bigger and bigger. It was there last year too, and when it got hot the leaves singed and it died. Given that it’s going to be 85 later this week (and has been, periodically, already) I decided to just pull it out and put in sunflower and tomatillo seeds, though I was frustrated to do so without ever figuring out what on earth it was.
Then, a few days ago—on another walk with Paul—I saw the same plant outside someone’s fence, and realized it was a poppy. This makes sense: last spring I seeded quite a few poppies, and just thought none of them ever grew. So maybe they’ll come back next year, and actually bloom. Maybe not. At least I know.
So, yes, I am looking for signs everywhere, looking for clues. As to what they might mean, what further mysteries they might solve, I don’t yet know. But god knows I have time. I am here, it is hot, I will keep an open mind.