Friday, November 30, 2007

From the Meticulous to the Sublime

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."
Philo of Alexandria

Ahhh, it’s raining. Just enough for a first rain on a thirsty ground – soft and fine and less than an inch. Enough to soak in and begin to awaken the soil, but not too much to cause runoff and flood. It’s been years since the ground was soaked beyond it’s ability to absorb. Then, we saw tiny rivers on every hill, racing to the bottom and swept away to join the watershed's march to the reservoirs.

The view outside is a mess. My vegetable starts remain unplanted, sitting forelornly in the wheelbarrow on the bags of potting soil. That’s a shame because the first seasonal rain would give them a jump-start to stretch their roots and grow. The last of the rusty mums bow down their spent blossoms in surrender to the season. In every flower pot, straggly stalks and naked stems bend over into an unkempt mess. My carefully tended dish gardens have lost their meticulously trimmed miniature scale and now sulk – sodden, neglected, and overgrown. My disheveled mood matches the untidy garden, nothing orderly or neat, just scraps of spent verdant energy, capitulating into compost.

The feral cat that lives in the crevices of the big rocks in the back yard is coping with rain for the first time this season. We watched him/her grow up this summer from a skinny kitten to a svelte hunter – tormenting the resident dog and front porch cat by parading across the front yard where they could only follow her with their eyes as she climbed the olive trees to snatch baby birds from their nests and patiently out-waited field mice in the scrub.

Mountain lions have been spotted in parks in the middle of suburbs. Displaced by the back country fires, and hungry and cross, they prowl city parks looking for dinner. We should be kind to the wildlife, whether they lost their homes in the fires, or whether they have always lived among us in our backyard gardens and wood piles. The mountain lions are tranquilized, treated as necessary, fed and released back in the unburned mountains.

As for our local wildlife, as is our usual Thanksgiving practice, I took the turkey carcass and distributed it in pieces in the back yard where the cat – we call it “the Black and White Cat” – prowls. The next morning, it was gone without a trace. I just hope BWC got some of it, even if I strongly suspect some was harvested by skunks, raccoons and possibly coyotes.

Meanwhile, my cat sleeps in my lap as I type. Her chin resting on my left arm. We’re cozy and warm inside, and I’m sipping my second cup of coffee seasoned with Spicy Maya hot chocolate and Detroit Spices.

The rain blurs the distance into smoky shadow and the breeze carries the memory of fire. Rain here and now isn’t like the rain of my childhood – where it was hot and steamy and we could put on our bathing suits and cavort in the street. It’s winter and chilly and uninviting except to look at through a window inside a cozy room. It may be time to leave the garden to it’s silent slumber and make a pot of sublime soup.

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