Sunday, June 21, 2015

wild flowers and night out with Josie: daisy, daisy

After a day and a half of grey skies and rain, blue skies and sun. It is mid-afternoon, I feel drowsy. Josie and I go out on the porch. He settles down on the step. I check back inside for Elliott, does he want to join us?, but no, he is settled in the chair.


I snip spent flowerheads from wild columbine, now waist high in the garden. I transplanted the columbine from the wild a couple of years ago. The garden is going wild. The chives are massive, have been blooming purple-headed for weeks now, purple heads covered with ecstatic, trembling, black and yellow bumblebees. The bird’s-foot trefoil snakes as if fat with mice through the columbine, making a nice yellow-red mix, and it scrambles around and through the arching green of the day lilies. Wild daisies run rampant. Yes, daisy season has started. They are in the garden, where I did not put them, in the yard, where I mow around them, and in the fields, all over. I cut a few to bring inside.


The wild roses are doing well in front of the cabin, are full of spring green but yet to bloom, hardly budding. Wanting to transplant another one or two along the west side of the garage, Josie and I stroll down the driveway as that is where I found the other roses, along the drive. Josie’s stroll is more of a dart and dash, jump and roll, stop and look, leap and lunge. Suddenly, the sweetest aroma. I bend down, pluck a white clover blossom, hold it close, breathe deep. Then I spot a wild rose and near it a raspberry bramble. Yes, I think I would like both along the garage wall.


We return to the cabin, walk toward the river, cut through the field to where there should be a patch of raspberry brambles and yes, they are there, sporting sparse yellowish white flowers. The field has burst forth with flower and it makes me heady, all this that comes from the earth untended, unplanned. The daisies dominate, but goat’s beard will bloom soon and its tall, gangly stalks demand attention. There is a vast stretch of lesser stitchwort, its tiny white star-like flowers nodding yes and no and maybe on the end of their tangled thready stems, and there are grasses of various heights and hues—greenish, greyish, brown and lavender—some already with hanging purple seed heads, and bright spots of orange smiling throughout thanks to the orange hawkweed. Swamp buttercup provides small, glossy, papery yellow blossoms, and again there is the clover. Smelling sweet.


The sky is blue, yet laced with gauzy remnants of rainy days past.


We feel as if we would like to sit on the porch for a while, doing nothing. A hummingbird is a ways off doing the U maneuver—flying back and forth in a U, buzzing like crazy—and other things seem to be happening, like birdsong, buzzing, it’s hard to pinpoint. Josie is sure there are deer lurking out there in them thar woods, and Elliott has joined us, stretching his long, languid carcass across the boards, closing his eyes. It is nice. But, a few days ago, Josie and I decided we need to get out more, so we go in to get ready to go out, to L’Anse, to a free outdoor concert to be held in a beautiful little park along the Keweenaw Bay.


It’s a fifteen-or-so minute drive, and our first stop is for dinner at The Drive-In in Baraga. Coming down the slope into town there’s a boogie disco tune on the radio and I’m kind of wishing Louis were here to dance with me by the bay, but right now he seems long gone and maybe that is a realization long coming but that is, quite often, my way. So. Dance with Josie? Nah. I am pretty sure he has four left feet.


I have been thinking a lot about loss this week, perhaps too much, but it feels to be leading to a good place. Because loss, eventually, must be accepted, must be reconciled, and how do you get there? Well, that is your business. And how you move on, that too is your business. It seems important to move on. But it seems important, also, to understand that the past is never truly gone. Loss may occur in a singular event that is soon past, but its effect is ongoing, always present, always moving with you through the present, into the future. What you do with that, how you handle it, how you see it, how you think of it, how you come to live with it, make peace with it, well, that is up to you. But the past—particularly how you see the past—is never not going to be there, never not going to be part of your life, part of your experience.

I came up with, of all things, a formula.

Future = Blank + (Present + Past)

It’s a dynamic formula, one you can play with, for instance blank can become what you make of it or the unexpected or both, creating a new formula such as

Future = (The Plan + The Unexpected) + (Present + Past)

We could also subtract that which is overlooked and divide by time, or, I think, just stick with blank.


The Drive-In is crowded. We pull in at the far end of a line of ten or so cars and trucks and vans, looking like a motley crew of work horses tied up at the hitching post, waiting for feed bags. Josie is uncontrollably excited, hopping around the van, barking, whining, and I think he must remember he got a French fry here once. He puts his paws on the sill of the open passenger window, throws back his head and crows. He really needs to get out more. A young woman, our waitress, comes to my window to take our order: a turkey burger, small fry, a small root beer float. A bit later I find out that they are out of turkey burgers, so, in a pinch, I order a cheeseburger. The float comes. The cheeseburger comes. The fries come. My tab totals $3.76. I pay. But, before leaving, I question the tab. I am told: All is well.

Despite a little ice cream from the float, a bit of cheese from the cheeseburger, and a few salty fries, Josie is still wound up. We have to stop at the store to pick up food for Elliott, and this activity puts Josie in a frenzy. He does not wait for me quietly. He really, really needs to get out more.

Then, disappointment. The beautiful little park along the bay is empty. No people, no sound, no gathering, no music. All has been moved indoors, to the hockey arena. The dreaded hockey arena. But, it is a beautiful evening, a beautiful spot, so Josie and I walk along the bay. At just a little past seven the sun is beginning to fall westward, down through the vast blue sky, across the bay, across the water, and I imagine that sunsets from here are often quite nice.

Empty bandshell.

On the way home, I stop at the arena and sure enough in the middle of the large cavernous space there is a small crowd seated on metal folding chairs listening to Jan Arnold. I ask the first person I see why the concert was moved inside. Because, she said, at 4 p.m. the evening’s weather was forecast to be about 50 degrees with strong north winds. She seemed apologetic, slightly hopeful, the chairs are over there, she said, go ahead and grab one. But I don’t.

Back in the van Josie is howling. We head home, sit out on the porch for a while, watch TV for a while, head up to bed. Josie is dog-tired, floppy as a sack of taters, I must carry him upstairs.