Summer is its own gift, from the solstice to the equinox, but there is something about the first nine or so days, the June part of summer, that feels most wild and tender. We've made it through winter, and, as in this year, a tempestuous spring. It was cold, we had blizzards, it was rainier than usual, and a friend left this earth. But here right now is the morning sun, incredible warmth, the green marsh, the call of Red-winged Blackbirds, the sparkling Connecticut River, the glass-calm Long Island Sound.
What if, in early summer, we stopped scrolling back through what's done, and we allowed ourselves respite from worry over what to do next? What if we listened to a voice deep inside, telling ourselves to just be? I'm trying to do that right now. Take in the beauty, listen to the birds and the wind in the reeds, watch my indoor cats as they crouch by the porch door, intent on chipmunks racing across the yard. Writing, always writing, letting my imagination follow the slightest hints from the interior, forgetting about outward demands.
I have a terrace garden. Beautiful flowers and one tomato plant, all in pots. Some years I choose pale colors--the softest blue, palest rose--but this June, everything needed to be bright. Hot pink petunias, peach hibiscus, sapphire-blue lobelia. Chase winter, greet the solstice. Having a comfortable chair is key, and I've placed it in the shade and sit outside to write and be. For me, writing is being. It's how I exist. I used to say it's how I make sense of the world, but I've come to believe, with a deep bow to David Byrne, that advanced spiritual practice is to stop making sense.
I saw Stop Making Sense in Paris, in a theater in the 5th arrondissement. It was quite a long time ago and I was living there, homesick for my family back in Connecticut, trying to improve my French by memorizing dialogues provided by my teacher. Every day I would walk the Seine (in those memories it's always winter, the buildings silver-gray and the river stone-green) from the Pont de l'Alma to the Pont de Sully, at the far end of Île Saint-Louis, and back along the quais of the Left Bank.
One particularly cold day, I left my usual route to warm up in a café off the Boulevard Saint-Michel. When I spotted the documentary's title on a marquee, I felt instantly drawn in. I entered the theater and the world of the Talking Heads, losing myself for an hour-and-a-half in their music. The film has stayed with me, and so has the title: a challenge, an admonition, a goal that has become easier, has in fact become a simple reality as life has gone on. (Can you honestly say you can make sense of...anything?)
Eventually I fell so in love with Paris I would have stayed forever, and in those memories it's always June, with the roses at the Musée Rodin always in bloom, with peonies for sale at the flower markets, with long evenings at cafés--especially Stresa--lasting until ten-or ten-thirty PM when daylight finally began to fade, with red geraniums spilling from the wrought-iron balconies of Belle Époque buildings throughout the city.
Perhaps those bright flowers, those eternal Paris Junes, inspired my garden this year. A desire to hold on to the un-hold-on-able, to write in the sun, to accept the season's blissful warmth, to feel happiness, to sit in my comfortable chair and just be for as long as I can.
Same as it ever was...