Friday, May 02, 2008

How Dreams End

"Oh, Mr. Done, screen me from their eyes and questions as much as you can! I'm so worn out and nervous, I shall betray myself. You will help me?" And she turned to him with a confiding look, strangely at variance with her usual calm self-possession.

"I'll shield you with my life, if you will tell me why you took the hashish," he said, bent on knowing his fate.

"I hoped it would make me soft and lovable, like other women. I'm tired of being a lonely statue," she faltered, as if the truth was wrung from her by a power stronger than her will.

"And I took it to gain courage to tell my love. Rose, we have been near death together; let us share life together, and neither of us be any more lonely or afraid?"

He stretched his hand to her with his heart in his face, and she gave him hers with a look of tender submission, as he said ardently, "Heaven bless hashish, if its dreams end like this!"

- Louisa May Alcott. "Perilous Play" (1869)

I dreamed I was in a space suit - tethered to a satellite between earth and the moon. I experienced vertigo. Not from looking at the big blue marble and being able to “crush its head” between my thumb and forefinger. But from looking beneath my floating feet and feeling the infinite way to fall. In my dream, I swooned like Rose on hashish.

So I woke this morning to a new season out my back door. Just like we call the year-end in-between season Indian Summer, there’s a sort of Indian Spring happening today. Summer was here last week – a few hot dry days was all it took to shrivel the cool air. But now, we’re getting another taste of the most delicate Spring I recall in years. Cool mornings, sipping my morning coffee on the back patio, while Lily sits in the other chair in the sun.

Lilly gazes up at the bird nest in the eaves with lazy concentration. She’s watching for baby birds. I’m trying to un-focus and re-capture the same dreamy feeling. I’m tired of trying to recognize patterns. I wear my over-coded Western imagination like blinders. The only way I can see the world is if I try to order it. I am trying to make sense of life in the only way I can – by reducing it to a movie playing outside my Spacesuit window, or by deconstructing the garden metaphors I use to describe it. Spring overwhelms my sense of atmosphere: both what I breathe, what surrounds me in the garden. Do it right, and it’s like floating in space, but with your feet on the ground. (How can the cat be so intent while resting? I believe another of her superpowers is the ability to dream with her unfocused eyes wide open.)

Today, I watched with a camera nearby. Yesterday, (without the camera) K and I watched two or three baby birds fledge from the nest tucked into a corner of dry eaves, just above where I’m drinking iced coffee. Yesterday, we didn’t get pictures, but I’m still hopeful I’ll get to know their names. However, today, I snapped a territorial hummingbird, trying to claim our patio bird family’s favorite perch and bathing spot. I caught a nasty big grasshopper in the same spot, doing whatever these evil creatures do between binging on my tender veggie garden starts (particularly the elusive white eggplant). Probably purging – it’s easy to believe that these things have a creepy eating disorder.

K has hung a birdfeeder immediately above the veggie garden. Sure, birds don’t need seed in this season of plenty. My IPM theory here is that if the birds get used to visiting this spot, they’ll keep visiting to eat the grasshoppers before said grasshoppers eat my food. Vegetable gardening has never felt so much like an endless war of attrition where I have to keep changing my tactics instead of fighting the last war.

Last year, I actually harvested some worthy vegetables. This year, I have a premonition that this might be the happiest time to end the dream of a vegetable garden – while It still retains some hope of survival. Heaven bless vegetable gardens if dreams end like this.

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