“Garden to table” was this past summer’s theme at our household. For the first time, I experienced an abundant harvest of tomatoes, Swiss chard, basil and Thai basil, despite my brown thumb!
I also came to realize the healing qualities of soil, seeds and sun and met a few new friends along the way.
By the time August and the official days of summer winded down, cultivator and trowel in hand, I ambled into the garden. Suddenly, I froze. A small, three-inch corpse laid on the pathway. I wasn’t about to cry over a nameless bug, was I? Months prior, I tried to research and identify the insect, but I couldn’t find it’s name. Some things are meant to be mysteries.
One thing certain, as I moved my eyes from the bug, as static as the stone it laid atop, to the dried, dead tomato leaves; death was inescapable. The transition from summer to fall was a reminder.
I’m okay with that today. As I’ve grown older, I’ve grown in faith the most by accepting the natural order of things. Life to death. Summer to fall, and from this natural order, out of all the massiveness, I etched a teeny-weeny place to call my own.
I scooped the dead bug, black body, gossamer wings, little head, up in the trowel and gracefully glided across the yard in wide fairy motions until I reached our family pet plot where our dear Blossom’s kittens are buried. I laid the insect gently down on a sliver of fresh dirt and peered at it in silence. I would miss the little bugger frolicking and dancing around me. All summer long, the Beach Lady kept me company as she twirled on my left, and the nameless bug floated on my right. For months, the two of them tricked me into believing I would never be alone and forever a part of moving, living things. Now, the time has come to admit, yet again, my powerlessness over another chapter’s end.
Weeks later, there are still a few, mostly green tomatoes to pick over in the cool, empty air. The end of the harvest. I pull stalks of dried, limp leaves out of the garden. As much as I expect it, the first frost will arrive and take me by surprise.
I recall one of my favorite poems, Nothing Gold Can Stay, by Robert Frost.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
The day I discovered the dead, nameless bug, day rolled into evening. The sun, with its heart of gold, had set, turning a bloody tone of purplish red until it melted into the darkened horizon.
A stir in the wind reminded me that everything is in flux, as my own breath was at that very moment. I looked around the dark yard, wondering where the last hummingbird that frequented and roamed our premises in the day and was yet to fly south, slept.
Change is in air. Yet it is always there, nothing can stay, everything is gold. One of my Buddhist friends, Bob, constantly reminds me of the impermanence of life. All troubles, he says, stem from trying to fight and conquer the inevitable: death; instead of living and appreciating life for what it is: Gold.
I always struggle this year. As the bounty of summer starts to fade, I find myself in a emotional stare of mourning. It is hard to remember the rebirth when facing the seasonal death.
“Stay gold Ponyboy. Stay gold.” The Outsiders by SE Hinton
Thank you, as always, Sarah, for these beautiful comments. Just beautiful!
Stancy I went through the same emotions as you when you were holding the dead bug which is also part of the creation Powerful writing .Congrats
. My other philosophy is accept all weather as it is without resisting it. I do not use AC or fan during summer So sweat and detox the body through it .Similarly I do not wear sweater during winter This has strengthened my immunity at gross level. I am able to accept the death of my husband, son and brother at a young age at a sublime level This is practical philosophy at both the levels!
I say it all the time, Preema, but you are AMAZING! 🤍🤍 (how you do it, I don’t know!)
Jesus. H. Christ, I saw and read your post 2 days ago and it’s taken 7 days to find it again, and why? Well, I’ll tell you, if only because you’d expect it of me, so here it is: The notion of impermanence as if the flower of a plant, which does arise and eventually fade or drop off is about what is said to happen in nature and by equivalents in ourselves too. This ain’t wrong but it’s only half the story. Permanence, exists and nothing more so than that of the love a mother has, loving-kindness is the biding and universal love, which all mum’s know about. And, so do you Stacy. There’s nothing impermanent about it at all. Just saying. 🌅💜🌅
Alec, this is so beautifully written (of course, it is written by you!) and so TRUE! THANK YOU for your insight. 🤍
Wow. I so love Frost, but didn’t know about this brilliant poem. Thank you so much for the introduction.