It's been hot in Portland, not usually so for summer, but still--hot. We're mild people, used to a mild climate, so you can watch people wilt as they go about their days, trudging along in the heat, getting increasingly dispirited as the sun wears on. It appears there's a tipping point when it comes to the sun--we wait anxiously for it, lift our faces in worship when it finally appears, and but when it turns on us like this, cooking into our skin at 90+ degrees, we begin to feel a little rueful about the day we wished for it at all.
Anyway, all this to say I've been hanging out in my backyard a lot the last week or so, because my house is stifling during the day and only slightly better at night. Though I've become quite adept at what I call "the window rodeo"--a complex routine of opening windows and doors early in the morning and then gauging exactly the right time to close up everything, making the house a dark and warm tomb--it's still not great in there, and at least in the backyard I can put my feet into the kiddie pool I filled up for Cedar.
And best of all, I get to enjoy my garden! My sweet, lovely and earnest garden. Once I read a passage in Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic, where she writes about our perceptions of the earth--she says that often people love the planet, but they don't think the planet loves them back. I disagree with this. I love being a steward of the place I occupy in the world, I do my best by it. I try to make choices about what to grow that benefit every being, not just me, and I try to take care of it. It feels silly to say that I think the ground, the bees, the birds, the squirrels, the possums, even the rats, are thankful for my attention, because it seems a little human-centric to assign the human emotions of gratitude and love to things outside of us. But I can feel a sense of synchronicity reverberating through my bones when I work in my garden, or turn on the drip lines, or clip back blackberries that are threatening the echinacea. I listen to the pitch of the bees humming through the lavender and know that I'm doing the right thing. I can see the way the plants drink in the light and dig deep into the earth--earth I turned this spring, I freed of weeds, I fortified with minerals and vitamins--and stretch further because of the attention I've shown them. It's a good feeling, to grow and tend. It's one I recommend.
The heat is something I'm abiding, I'm trying to enjoy. It's reminding me of the hot places I've lived: New Orleans, Dakar. It's reminding me that I'm adaptable, and the sun is good for me. And it's good to be forced outside, to sit among the rest of creation and find some common ground.