10 July 2024

summer and superpowers and the life of Riley


I am very proud of my neat herb bed

It's been very hot, often very windy and in between close and grey and humid. We had heavy thunderstorms, heavy rain and today, it's sticky and grey. Whatever we may think, the garden is doing extremely well. Until a few days ago, I sat for a while every morning shelling the peas that R brought me. Now they are either eaten or in the freezer. We continue to argue about the soft fruit which according to my thinking should be eaten straight away in large handfulls while he believes in freezing it for a rainy cold day of jam making. Let's see what happens when the plums and the peaches are ripe. Any day now. Also, runner beans and courgettes and tomatoes and some lovely fat beetroot. It's also an excellent apricot year but they need to be washed - because stinkbugs. The man has started a big jar of cassis with the fat blackcurrants.

no more peas

Early in the mornings and again after sunset, if we are very quiet for a moment, we can hear the snails holding their fat bellies with laughter. They know, of course, that we grow lettuce and basil, fennel, kohlrabi and beetroot for ourselves. They think it's all a big joke. But we are not without our own menacing thoughts and means and, what can I say, ready for war and it looks like we are winning. But hush, let's not jinx it.

this is the covid patch, the bit we've left idle since lockdown

I used to be that person who could be observed devising schemes for ants, fruit flies or spiders to find their way out of the kitchen without loss of lives. On good days, you could hear me talking to them with heartfelt encouragement, even giving the last ant group a gentle push with the small duster. All for my good karma.

tons of finger aubergines

But honestly, the spiritual and I have not become friends. I probably lack the discipline, or my despair of the world has subsided somewhat. In the limited human reality, I now also find things that make me happy and keep me going. Actually, I always have. I wouldn't be where I am now if it was all gloom and despair. It's just so much more fun to complain and moan.

I've been thinking about all that recently. Someone, a long time ago, told me that not being religious (he meant not being a catholic) was cheap and stupid, leaving the hard work of salvation and whatever else to others while living the life of Riley (who and where is Riley now?). That I should be ashamed of myself. Another person, in a more serious debate, was confounded by the fact that my child, who was not raised with the fear of god and nothing about sins, was spending huge chunks of her time and energy doing what he called good, selfless work. How could this be, her wondered. A heathen child! Indeed. Dear gods, I am so proud of this heathen child, you have no idea.

I'll never understand it but I admit there are days when I wish I could just hand it all - fears, hopes, needs - to some higher force and say, get on with it, give me the rules and I'll fit them in. If only. But then again, how dull and predictable.

I wonder what the gods had in mind when they created Tapinoma magnum, an invasive ant species that used to live predominantly in the Mediterranean basin but has - thank you climate change! - found its way closer and closer to my home. Not there yet, but already established in towns and gardens at the southern end of the big river we live on. Their nests grow to several metres in size and the colonies comprise millions of workers and hundreds of queens. And individual colonies do not fight each other like other species, they co-operate and form the United States of Antsikia, an insect superpower. The shape of things to come. 


Ms. Moon said...

Both of us with our Little Finger aubergines! Why did I plant so many? Glen doesn't even like them. Oh, the stupid optimism of spring, the reality of summer.
I, too, often wish that I could just "let go and let god" as they say and yet, even as I think that I laugh and wonder how anyone does that. I see no evidence that "letting god" has any benefit whatsoever but I suppose whatever the outcome, it is comforting to think it is the right one, designed and ordained by god.

am said...

This is my favorite time of year, when you post photos of your garden and talk about the delicious fruits and vegetables you and R get to eat or transform into jam for winter. A joy.

A little story about "something."

An friend of mine said to me when she was 85 years old, a few months before she died, "Amanda, I'm still an atheist, but there is "something." Her oldest of three sons had died in his early 20s in a climbing accident on Mt. Baker, the volcano that we can see from the small town where we live. No matter how much alcohol she drank, the pain remained. Alcohol was where she turned for relief and then alcohol turned on her in a vicious way. Years went by. As much as she wanted to stop drinking, she couldn't. She never prayed to a higher force to stop her craving for alcohol, but one day when she was driving down the hill to town, she suddenly had the thought, "It would be insane for me to drink." From that day on, she was free. The pain from her son's death didn't go away, but she no longer had to drink over the pain. She died in peace as an atheist who experienced that there was "something" that had happened despite the fact that she had not handed her fears, hopes and needs to a higher force.

I'm not an atheist nor I am religious in any sense of the word. I'm not Buddhist either. I don't experience a higher force that gives me rules and fixes things for me, but I do experience "something" inside me that I have learned to trust. Something that assures me that I am not alone. Something never dull and frequently unpredictable in the most creative of ways. Something that has no rules for me to follow.

The big news here is that my 2010 Honda Fit was stolen from the parking lot of our condominium complex a little over 24 hours ago. The chances of it being found are diminishing. I'll be 75 years old in October, at which time our city will give me a free bus pass. I'm looking at the possibility that my driving days are over. Can't afford to buy another car. My car insurance doesn't cover theft. Looks as if I'll be walking, taking the bus and accepting the rides that friends have already offered. Not a bad alternative to driving. Never a dull moment (-:

Colette said...

Your productive and gorgeous veggie gardens are amazing. I have tried so many times to grow vegetables, but I fear I just don't have that gift.

As for God, spirituality, and all that. Who knows? First a thinking person would have to define God, what it is. Some would say it is no thing. If it is a process that produces life, I do admire it's diverse approach to our particular reality. When we all go extinct, I hope the AI overlords allow Antsikia to thrive and continue.

Pixie said...

There are so many rules around religion, all of them thought up by and written down by men. Strange that. Original sin wasn't even a thing until some guy from what is now modern day Algeria, wrote it down. Why? Why would he even think that? Why would anyone think that children are born bad? Religions have a lot to answer for.

Thanks for taking a photo of your covid plot. Are those trees or shrubs growing in the plot? What kind of tree or shrub are they?

am said...

Turns out that my car was not stolen.

I called my cousin yesterday morning to tell her what had happened. She asked if I'd like to hear a stolen car story with a happy ending. When her mother was in her 70s, she drove from Montana to Washington State to visit my cousin, during which time my aunt stayed in a motel. During her visit, they arranged to meet at a city park where they could walk next to the Salish Sea. After a long walk, they went back to my cousin's condo in my cousin's car, both forgetting about my aunt's car. The next day when they went out to the condo parking lot, my aunt didn't see her car and thought that it had been stolen until they realized that they had left it at the park and were able to laugh at themselves.

At that moment in the story, it suddenly occurred to me that, because of the heat a few days ago, I had driven my car up the street to Big Rock Garden Park so that I wouldn't have to walk so far in the heat and could begin my walk in a cooler place. My walk up the hill and through the woods takes more than an hour. It was a wonderful walk. I saw an old friend and stopped to talk. It was so much cooler in the woods. I returned down the hill on a different route, happy and refreshed.

I had completely forgot about driving my car up the hill until talking with my cousin. I laughed, told her what I had done, we laughed. Thanking her for the story, I got off the phone and walked up the hill as fast as I could and found my car where I had parked it.

Happy ending, yet sobering and humbling. I had to call the police and let them know that I found my car and let my kind friends and neighbors know what had happened. All had offered to help me out by giving me rides in what appeared to be my future without a car. I was tempted to save face and tell everyone that the police had found my car, but I know better than to do that (-:

Sabine said...

Well AM, this is excellent news. I wonder whether your public transport options are be any good? I rarely use public transport although it's really good here but I can cycle so much easier everywhere and no problem or costs with parking. We still have a car but since we are both retired we rarely use it and its days are numbered. There are several car sharing groups in our city, all using electric vehicles.

Pixie, the covid patch is just the "lawn" going wild, mostly grasses, clover, some wild flowers. There are two trees, both asimina or pawpaw, which we put there to mark the corners. They came from seed someone gave us ages ago.

am said...

Our town has an excellent bus system, partially due to the fact that it is a university town with a large college student population. There are four bus stops a few minutes from my front door. Bellingham also has a substantial amount of people who ride their bicycles rather than use cars. Parts of Bellingham are flat but there are other hillside neighborhoods where the streets are quite steep. When I was in my 30s, I would walk 3 miles to work and back and was thinking that as a 74-year-old without a car, I could combine going to the downtown library with a good long walk.