Summer pastoral

About noon I head out to water the greenhouse. Spirit, our black German shepherd, comes with me. I notice that several more Popcracker flowers have come out overnight. Their real name is scabiosa, but they pop out so suddenly Doug called them Firecracker flowers and I changed it again. Let the scientific name define them, I enjoy giving nicknames. There was a hawkmoth drinking here yesterday. I give the flowers a little too much water waiting for it, but it doesn't come today.

Then I check the cactuses. Week after week they look the same in their pots. It's only because I've been watering the greenhouse for three years that I notice they've grown. And on to the fuchsias, begonias, geraniums, and ferns. A hummingbird scolds me with her territorial clicks; tree frogs leap out of hanging pots to escape the water; the bees don't pay any attention.

After the greenhouse I go to the nursery to check the seedling trees. Sure enough, there by the faucet in the cool weeds is Pounce. Pounce is a bouncer cat. A large black and white cuddle kitty. Nursery time is his time for attention. He stretches and comes over to rub. I look forward to seeing Pounce. If it was only occasional I would think Pounce a friendly cat. But his regularity of friendship builds toward faithfulness. I can't help magnifying our little habits like that. The everyday affections of our rural life. Hubert-Goat recognizes my voice and looks up from eating blackberry vines to bleat a reply.

A visit to our country life finds it regular. After the first day, the rest are repetition. It's the way a tree grows. Ring by ring from the inside out. And it's only after many years that we notice the magnificence of its patience. It is firm and all around the story is beginning again: seedlings thick as weeds underneath the cedar tree. Who plants an acorn when he wants an oak tree? And who still lives there to sit in its shade?

It's summer now. The melons are bigger than softballs. We're picking tomatoes. When fall comes we will pull in the hoses. The cats will be lazy in the warm greenhouse. The hummingbirds will go south while their favorite gladioli multiply underground. Then the hummingbirds will come back and the orioles and tanagers, and the spring rains will soak in. We do not want to use up and more on, but to root here and grow, solid as trees.

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