Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bursting Summer

In summer, the song sings itself. (William Carlos Williams)

The scent of my Russians Olives has started to fade and is only noticible early in the mornings before the sun has had his second cup of coffee or on late evening walks when the world has cooled and the rumble of the road crews out on Bowles have hushed for the night. Scent is a delicate and fickle thing, the prima donna of the senses and rightfully discriminates as to when it plays it fragrant symphony. The high heat of the afternoon is a blister to the nose when the common and ugly odors––tar and oil burning on hot cement, fast food friers and car exhaust––run amok shamelessly, but soft-skied morning and evening, fragile and fleeting and always on the cusp of something else, are gentle and kind to the senses in every way.

The park was overrun with teams again today so Duncan and I stayed close to home, walking the perimeter of the property and stopping often to marvel at the wonders we so often skip right past in our excitement to roam the fields and paths across the street. There are times I'm not quite convinced we have entered Summer, when we seem to be lingering on the edge of Spring. Colors are bursting up all around us and the trees are bending under the weight of their seeds and blossoms. Tiny yellow flowers have sprung up among the leaves and like a junkie I kept leaning my face into them for a hit of their sweet, honey fragrance.

As much as I would like to know the names of things it doesn't matter. You do not need to have an understanding of the chords to enjoy the music, and so I can lean my face into things whose names I don't know and love them just as much, maybe more because of their namelessness. As Duncan leads me through the gardens I can't help but feel like the ancients, who gazed into the night sky and saw shapes and patterns that looked like bears or ships or brave warriors. When I gaze at the tree outside my patio I do not need its name to wonder at it, only the memories I carry with me of what I imagine was a nearly perfect childhood. The seeds on my bending trees are the seeds we played with when I was young, waiting for the green to fade and the brown to overtake them. Then, and only then, would we raise them above our heads and let go, watching them spin earthward like the rotors of tiny helicopters.

The wide pink and red petals of the roses could be their landing strips.
The tall daisies are the beaming faces of earthbound onlookers, enraptured by their flight.

Sadly we have only four words to describe the seasons. The Japanese, like the dreamer, are far wiser, or perhaps just more attentive, and know that four is not nearly enough. They use over five-hundred words to describe the changing faces of the year. "Summer" alone does not capture these early days when the mountains are still greening and the nights turn cool, when the scent of things still matter and have not burnt away. The days of Bursting Summer are the most glorious of all, the days poets exalt above all others, the days we recall as the fondest of our youths.


Lori said...

No, no, no!!! Not the helicopter things! I have pictures and had planned an entire blog about their evilness! Tom hates them! The full the pool and gutters and mulchy areas and are the sole reason he just bought a leaf blower that will also suck stuff up and mulch it. Hate hate hate them!

caboval said...

Neat shot of Duncan. I love that angle! I love your flower shots too. Are those cell phone shots Curt?

Greg said...

The photos are perfect. As always, the words divine. The names are mere designations to tell one from the other, but your nose can find its own way amongst the fragrant blossoms, just like Duncan's.

What, I wonder, are his names for all those things?

Curt Rogers said...

Nope. Not cell phone shots. I use a Panasonic Lumix TZ5.

Thanks for the compliments. None of it would be possible without Duncan's infinite patience.

Curt Rogers said...


A dear friend wrote me this morning, the first person who really tried to impress upon me the names of plants. Because I'm a poor student the only one I remembered is "Jack-in-the-Pulpit" and then only because it's kind of "dirty." Anyway, he wrote me this morning and he'll probably demand I remove his words, but they are beautiful and insightful and inspiring, the kind of things that make me want to better myself (he's the kind of friend who does this to me a lot, without much credit and great frustration. I owe him many, many debts of gratitude!). I am going to quote what he said:

"I always want to know the names, not to augment my appreciation of the beauty of whatever bit of flora I am ogling, but because there is something really cool about the naming of a plant. The latin names are kind of high-falutin', it is true, but even those names can be laden with history and personality. The other "common" names are the truly cool ones, and I wonder who dubbed the plant by a particular moniker and why it "stuck." The common names are frequently very descriptive and often have their own charms - "bugbane", "inside-out flower", "bastard toad-flax", "Venus' looking-glass", or even more commonly used names like "four o'clock" or "nightshade" have their own history, most of it lost in the mists of time. I just think it is an added pleasure to gaze at a plant and utter its name. There's a story there, and it is rooted firmly in whatever plant spreads its leaves and petals before me."

I understand and am in awe of the both of you, who know so much and manage to see things as both scientists and as poets. I am humbled by the two of you.

I'm done fawning. Go take more pictures and post them to your own blog!