Still Lifes

“In every heart there is a god of flowers, just waiting

to stride out of a cloud and lift its wings.”

Mary Oliver from The Kookaburras

Still Life With Wildflowers

In late August of this year, of the summer when my wildflower garden flourished and yielded a wealth of colorful bouquets, crickets sang each evening their mindful refrain. “Soon,” they said, “the season will tip into autumn.”

In the garden, cosmos plants stretch beyond my height, seven feet or more. The flags of their flower petals flutter with the benediction of a breeze. Coreopsis and zinnias; daisies and coneflowers; bachelor buttons and black eyed Susans spill across the borders of the rocky path.


Gardening focuses a too busy mind. Often, I am knuckle deep in soil and its mix of bugs, worms, and microbes. I breathe the earthy fragrance of organic material and enjoy common cause with other creatures.

Birds visit during the day. They pluck seeds from the same blossoms where bees nuzzled pollen. Beetles, spiders, and winged insects are drawn to the abundance of plants as they make their way through the territory of their brief lives.

Early Summer Wildflowers

Me too … I reap the peace of communing with nature and harvesting flowers that pose as still lifes in the kitchen and bedroom.

Mary Oliver, the late American poet, created still lifes with words rather than paint or photography. Her poetry arose from wandering in the hills and fields of New England. She developed a knack for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Wildflower Bouquet

In January, at the age of 83, she died from lymphoma, a kissing cousin to my blood cancer, multiple myeloma.

My disease sometimes imitates a still life. Metaphorically, I am under house arrest. I don’t travel well due to the side effects of a busy treatment plan. And, Mr. Fatigue, my capricious acquaintance, visits on a regular basis. But basically, things are about the same this year as they were last summer when the season began to turn.

Still Life with Ukulele

I approach 12 years since diagnosis. Cautious management and lots of luck have forestalled the incurability associated with MM.

So, there is much to be grateful for. Lately, it’s wildflowers, still lifes, and Mary Oliver. That’s plenty … until I write again.

Now, a tribute song:

Who Made The World


9 thoughts on “Still Lifes

  1. Beautiful writing John. You have completed another trip around the sun. Hope you had a wonderful Birthday 🎂🎂🎂 with your grand children. Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here is hoping that next year you will feel as you do this year, with no decline whatsoever. I enjoyed your song. I recently shared Oliver’s poem, which I found on your page.

    Your digging in the earth reminded me of a poem. If I can find it, I’ll send it along.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a special love for wildflowers, too, since I was a child. I’ve always thought of myself as a wildflower, in fact.🙂 Your photos are so lovely and gentle. Love the ukulele. How’s the playing going? I recently came across a poem by Mary Oliver: Such Singing in the Wild Branches. So stunning. She heard the voice of Nature. Happy autumn to you, John.🍂🍁

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You write something here about Mary Oliver that captures my imagination: Mary “…created still lifes with words rather than paint or photography.” A busy mind needs a piece of something to focus on, something to create a “still life” and you have your gardening and wildflowers as a result… and also as with Mary, the ability to create with words as well. Wish you well this autumn.

    Liked by 1 person

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