Here we are again in the dog days of summer. The soil in our neighborhood is sandy with a hardpan of clay beneath the surface — a real challenge for my gardening aspirations. However, over time I have learned that some plants do well and even thrive here. While other plants are looking a little sad, the potted Lantana (pictured above) is the star of our courtyard. When it goes dormant in winter, I will transplant it into the ground.
The varieties pictured below are gracing the front yards of our neighbors on the block.
In the garden, the Crape Myrtle bushes are in bloom. Prior to the monsoon rains, they bloomed sporadically and indifferently, but as soon as the rains began, they came into full flower. They prefer the rain from heaven to the water that comes from the faucet. Somehow theyknowthe difference.
The days are a little cooler now. In the afternoons, great towers of cumulus clouds form in the sky, and if we are lucky, we get a good downpour during the night. I love the sound of the rain pattering on the skylights.
Last night at sunset there was no rain, but I caught a glimpse of something I hold dear but rarely actually see — the cloud with the silver lining. Yes, Virginia, it does exist.
The Rio Grande passes quietly through the valley where we live in Southern New Mexico. In spite of the current, the surface of the river remains calm because the water flows over a smooth, sandy river bed. To cool off on hot summer weekends, families with children wade or sit in the shallow water near the banks. They stay close to the edges of the river. There can be quicksand near the center.
I’ve been thinking about serenity and peace lately. If I wish to remain outwardly serene, I need to be at peace beneath the surface.
For the most part, I am at peace with myself. Yet, from time to time I find a submerged rock or tree branch that disturbs the surface. Then, there is turbulence for a while, until I figure out what to do with it.
In the market today, I overheard a customer asking the clerk if people were honoring the face mask requirement. “Everyone is so done with face masks, and everyone is in a bad mood,” she replied. (In spite of her comments, everyone was wearing a mask, including the clerk.)
The face mask hadn’t bothered me, but I had been in a bad mood for a few days. Things that didn’t help:
In the mountains, my husband and I have a small vacation townhome. The patio is just large enough for a table with an umbrella, four chairs, and a few flower pots. The ponderosa pine just beyond the gate is the main attraction, but even here, I must have a little garden. When I came back this time, to my delight I saw that my neighbors had kept my petunias and marigolds alive in my absence. Good neighbors are so precious.
On my first day back as I was sitting on the patio, a bee appeared out of nowhere and buzzed around my head several times. It was clearly angry, and it was clearly trying to chase me away, but I held my ground. At home in the garden I move among the bees as they pollinate the flowers, and they never seem to mind my presence. However, this mountain bee was seriously upset, even though I was minding my own business. The next day on the patio, it returned and buzzed around my head again, but not as many times, and not for so long.
I haven’t seen it since. It has apparently accepted me as a neighbor.
Back in the mountains, I took my morning walk in search of wildflowers. It was slim pickings, since the tall grasses along the pathways had been recently mowed. I managed to find the delicate beauties pictured above and below.
Although I had walked this route many times, until this morning I had barely noticed the bird houses that someone crafted and attached to the chain link fence along the path. Each one was carefully placed under a tree to provide shade for a fledgling family.
The occupants had long since flown into the wild blue yonder.
At the last light, well after sunset, a throng of wrens in the surrounding trees suddenly burst into song. I only see two or three of them during the day, but when they join together in the evening serenade, there must be hundreds of them hidden in the trees. They finally settle down when the light has completely faded. Then again, at the first light of dawn, the anthem begins again and continues until the sun has risen.
In the short life of a bird, I suppose the going and coming of the light is indeed a momentous thing. I need to learn from this.
As a teenager living in Wisconsin, Sundays were a challenge for me. At that time, all the stores were closed on Sundays. After morning church, there was a long wait for the roast in the oven. In the afternoon, there was nothing on TV except the polka parties. Elderly couples danced the polka round and around in circles for hours. I thought they would never stop, but apparently they did, since I am now older myself, and it’s been many years since I’ve seen a polka party on TV.
As an adult, like many people, I quickly succumbed to the busyness of life. Sundays became similar to every other day, filled with tasks, shopping, and distractions. It was sometime after my conversion to Catholicism that I began to consider the Sabbath again.
Now, I relish these long Sunday afternoons (even though there is still not much on TV). When I keep Sunday as a day of rest, I seem to have lots of energy during the rest of the week. However, when I busy myself with tasks and shopping, I seem to be frazzled for the rest of the week. It appears that the Sabbath was indeed made for man, not man for the Sabbath.