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A Late Summer Harvest of Thoughts

Christine Maccabee

Where to begin on this gorgeous day in August? I will begin, as is recommended by many spiritual sages, with Gratitude. Even if my heart is breaking, there is still the miracle of life just outside my door waiting for me to wake up and see it. I can hear it too…the early morning calling of crows through the valley, the final songs of the crickets taken over by the loud voices of cicadas which will continue all through this hot day. I sit here thankful for the coolness of the morning hours and for the sweet songs of birds which bring comfort to my soul. Even the hum of car engines as they travel along the road reminds me of the reality of life as it truly is, an on-going movement, a journey, of time and wings and songs of which I am an intimate part.

Every winter I miss the summer, and I live for the coming of spring. Even though the winter grays and browns and the extremes of cold are beautiful too, I miss the green leaves and the sounds of insects and birds. I patiently await the warming of the air and the return of the healing aroma therapy from the many flowers which bloom on my property from spring through fall. The air is pure and healing here, and for that I am grateful.

                    When the bitter winds
                              around me

                    deep within my heart
                              the flowers

                    I can see all their hues,
                              purples, yellows
                                         and blues.

                    And I dream of
                              happy hours

                    As I turn the soil,
                              my soul

                    With each seed I sow,
                              nature's wonders
                                         to know.

( words to song "Dreaming of spring" )

However, when August heat kicks in with its 95 degree weather, gratitude takes backseat to the will to survive. Last year I chose not to put my few precious pennies into fixing the air conditioner when it died. I had always wondered if I could manage without one anyway, and so this year I have taken on the challenge of living like our poorer cousins in third world countries. Of course, I am far more fortunate than they in that I have a system of fans, but much like them, I find myself laying around in the shade on longer than usual siestas. Time seems to move much more slowly on these long hot afternoons and yes, I do struggle with gratitude. However, thank God for a good book to read, and the radio!

I have digressed from the world of which I long to speak, that being the natural world. Due to an incredibly wet, cool spring, all my wild plants are taller than ever. The lance-leaved goldenrod is now in full bloom with thankful little bumble bees all over it. Did you know that many bumble bees even fall asleep on the flowers they feed on?! Seeing them settling down on a flower to sleep gives me a peaceful feeling just as I am settling myself down for the evening here on my little homestead.

Several other species of goldenrods are free to grow on my property as I understand their incredible value to pollinators. One of my first years here I let the entire hay field go to flowers, and in September I witnessed a miracle. For three days and three nights I saw thousands of monarch butterflies feeding and resting on them before their long journey south to Mexico. To witness such a thing is life transforming. I have not been the same ever since, and must continue to witness to the necessity for all who are able to preserve or create areas of wild plants in order to sustain the lives of our precious pollinators as well as an incredible diversity of other fascinating insects and then of course the birds which survive by feeding on the insects and the seeds. I truly believe that we as humans are here on this earth to be co-creators and caretakers. As we care for the earth, it will care for us. This I believe.

I have never seen such tall wild aster as I am seeing this year! Some of them are now towering over my head some one or two feet. I think they know I love them. They are the ones just about every property owner cuts down before they even become knee high, deeming them weeds. However, if permitted, they spend all summer long growing tall and full, only to burst forth with a million tiny star-like flowers in September. Seeing them and hearing the symphony of happily feeding buzzing bees in early fall is but one more miracle I am witness to.

I do believe I am the luckiest person in the world even without an air conditioner, a drier, or a man…though a good man would be a great help for this woman. But that is another chapter in this book of my life. Thank you for letting me share this one.

Off I go to life's little duties, bills and animals and cleaning and people, but first, one more poem titled "Moments in Time"…

                    The clearest day
                          Late summer
                               Cicada is singing
                                     Corn is high.

                    Summer comes
                          Summer flows
                               Children come
                                     Children grow.

                    All too soon
                          Corn is yellow
                               Singing stops
                                     All too soon.

*according to Reader's Digest book Magic and Medicine of Plants,

"Goldenrod was once badly maligned as a cause of hay fever until it was shown that its pollen is not airborne. It blossoms at the same time as ragweed, the real culprit, which has inconspicuous flowers."

Read other articles by Christine Maccabee