“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
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.
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.
In her later years, she moved to Florida. She continued to write until the end of her life, taking inspiration from nature in the estuaries, ponds, and dunes of her new surroundings. At the age of 83, she died from lymphoma, a kissing cousin to my blood cancer, multiple myeloma.
My disease paints a picture similar to a still life: it doesn’t move, yet there is a fascination with the details. I have ups and downs but, basically, things are about the same this year as they were last summer when the season began to turn. The relevant blood markers remain stable, the treatments have not changed, and my quality of life is decent.
Metaphorically, though, I am under house arrest. I don’t travel well due to the side effects of a busy treatment plan. And, Mr. Fatigue visits on a regular basis. Nonetheless, I approach 12 years since diagnosis. Cautious management and lots of luck has forestalled the incurability associated with MM.
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: