Saturday, August 27, 2005

the summer winds on

In the vacant lot down the road the sweetbriar seed pods have begun to ripen. It is one of my favorite plants,a rose (also known, more poetically, in England, as eglantine) with small pink single blossoms and large, sweet rosehips. The leaves smell like apples, and perfume the air for a long way after the rain. In this field there are also chicory flowers, sky blue and white, and Queen Anne's Lace. For a gardener I have a strange fondness for weeds, and places where nature pushes into the midst of the town.
The vacant lot is where a lot of my street friends sleep from time to time. In the early morning, or late at night, while I am walking one of my dogs, I will come across one of them. Usually I move quietly, trying not to wake them, after first checking to make certain they are still breathing. It's not something to take for granted, breath and life, not in this little town. If I wished, I could tell the tales of--what--maybe 20 dead souls, found under the bridge between this town and the next, or dead at the post office next door (that was a murder, and a sad story; the man spent his last day listening to music in my shop. He liked Mozart a lot, and told me about his family. He'd just gotten out of jail.), or dead in the fields, or by the road. Some suicides, some overdoses, a couple murders.
And this is, all in all, a sweet little town, where my Down Syndrome teen wanders safely, watched by other shop keepers and my street friends. What would it be like in the city?
My city friends, however, tell me they don't encounter the numbers of deaths, or the stories, I do here. So perhaps the intimacy brings these lives and deaths closer? I don't know.
Today in the middle of the shop a huge cauldron of kale soup sits. Folks come and go, taking second and third helpings. For some it is the only meal they will have today. My yuppie tourist customers also eat their share, and they are welcome to do so. They tell me it is a odd place, this multipurpose bookstore in the middle of nowhere.
They call it the lost coast, out here where we live (and I wish we were closer to the actual sea--we are about 20 miles inland). Last night my partner and youngest meandered out one of the dirt roads to the tiny cottage of a good friend. It was my friend's birthday. He's a naturalist, who always chides me that I love the wrong birds and the wrong plants, but who has a kind heart. His home perches on a rock many hundreds of feet above one of the creeks flowing to one of the rivers. It is beautiful, and somewhat terrifying: a sheer, inescapable drop. But my friend perches there happy and secure as one of the hawks who live nearby. We had icecream soup (melted icecream, because we got lost getting there) and chunks of cake and wine. For my son, raspberry soda. We watched the stars come out and the dust settle, and ended up talking about the war--one of the other visitors is the peace ambassador from our county, soon to go to DC. I think, really, I would rather have talked of birds.


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