Nature is so flamboyant this time of year that it’s difficult to get anything done. I’ll aim myself in the direction of some productive task, only to look out the window and catch a glimpse of garden. Then what can I do, but go out to inspect everyone’s progress? Are the tomatoes setting on? Are the pepper plants in bloom? Does the basil need to be harvested? Is it time to weed again, or tie up a new gangly shoot?
Even at the end of the day, when walking home from the train, I must pass my own front yard and stop to see if the ground cover I’ve planted is making any headway, or if it’s time to rip up the grass and wild violets that impinge on the territory. Once I begin looking, my steps continue over to the top-heavy lilies that lean closer to the ground or to the lone begonia braving its new spot near the walk. The bush we planted last year is sending out slim red branches like mute fireworks against the still afternoon. I have no idea when I should prune it, or if I should prune it at all.
Because I walk a lot in the course of my commute, I find many, many front yards to gaze upon, to sniff for fragrance, or to pause before to identify something bloomy or leafy. At times, I must restrain myself from weeding other people’s property. At times, I come close to plucking something to take with me. At no time am I thinking about work of any kind. Neat, constructive thoughts do not fit into summer brain space, they just don’t.
I suppose that living in Chicago conditions a person to revel in the few months of pleasant weather that we do have; the winters seem to get longer every year. Still, I like winter, and those cold and austere landscapes have their own charm. But summer—it’s simply out of control in terms of loveliness. Yes, I think that maybe summer is too lovely. Some days it’s really hard to bear up under so many scents on the warm air, or the uncountable hues of flower petals, or even the mystical architecture of leaves and stems. Every day I see some greening structure I have never seen before. It’s a wonder I’m not late to work every single day. As it is, I must get to my desk and have some strong black tea, just to counteract the giddiness that builds up after a fifteen-minute stroll through shade and sunshine, over stones and past fences, all the time surrounded by trembling foliage and the gaudy buds and blooms that are proof that plants have a robust and rowdy sex life.
Also, nature is not the least bit interested in tidiness or efficiency, but that’s another post altogether.
So, go ahead and pay attention—stop and smell the roses, if you will. But know that you do so at your own risk.