Tidal Basin

Germination Detail Part III, by Leslie Shellow

contemplations about what stays in the net

Monday, September 15, 2014


I am house and dog-sitting a divine place with a huge garden out of which I am eating constantly. I taught a yoga class today about the garden - remember that adage about how you teach best what you most need to learn -- well, it was all about harvesting what is in your garden now, rather than trying to make things out of pineapples which are from Hawaii, for God's sake. Okay, that's paraphrased. I am really trying to see what is in front of my eyes, on my plate, in the ball field--in short, what is here. It is easier to complain about what isn't.

Today, I took the dogs down behind the house. Once you open the gate, the landscape becomes a forested hill diving down toward a talking stream. We (I, really) tripped over tree roots and slid down sandy patches until we reached the stream, which invited the dogs in for a drink. Gabriel became wilder and wilder until he found himself crashing with abandon through a stand of bamboo. I thought he was chasing a deer but was reassured by another dog walker that there were no deer, only small rodents. Bamboo is easy to crack without effort. So, Gabriel was chasing small rodents through the stand of bamboo and I can only imagine he was doing it because he liked the symphony of breaking branches.  Imagine. I wonder if he felt powerful flinging his body weight around, tearing through the tall tiny trees, a golden body knocking about a screen of green latticework. I called him out because I was scared. Just as he was having his fantasy of his life being the greatest hunter incarnate, I was fantasizing that he was being chased by a rutting buck, antlers poised to skewer his soft, ridiculously flailing body. And I had to back off and stop being overbearing (and judgmental.) Because nature has its way with us. We are not neatly packaged into any one reality. Gabriel's hunting spree was just as real as my fear he was being chased. And ultimately, nature has the last word.

The mid-September garden is dolloped paint upon a fading green palate. Orange and yellow Scotch Bonnets, grass green jalapenos, evergreen poblanos, rust-colored Romas, the thick, orange of cherry tomatoes, and the mulberry eggplant. Each of these vegetables is a remnant of a season past. I eat them to remember the long daylight hours of summer. I eat them to remember the warmth of those days on my face. I eat them not to forget where I've been. I hope they will nourish me as the nights grow cool with exhaustion from the summer's bountiful production.

It is the cusp of fall. I look at what I have in my garden right now: a succotash of my own heart's longing for adventure, the fear that I and those I love will not be safe in the world, the discovery that I create the story in which I live, and the power of imagination. I wonder what will be on the table for winter.