soaked

I drink water I cut fruit

I shove my hand in the leafy wind

The lemon trees irrigate the pollen of summer

Green birds tear my dreams

I leave in a glance

Eyes wide where the world becomes again

Beautiful from the beginning to the measurement of the heart.

                                               (from “Sun the First” by Odysseas Elytis, trans. Olga Broumas)

It’s at this point in the summer that I wonder if an automated watering system might be a good idea. I spend the whole of every morning watering. Some of this means simply turning on a sprinkler — most of the vegetable garden is watered this way. But the decks, where I grow tomatoes and flowers, and which mostly receive direct sun for a good part of each day, need to be done with hoses, sometimes twice a day. I have waterwands set up on two decks as well as the lower level for the cucumber boxes and they leak. We replace the washers, tighten connections, but still…So the plants get soaked and so do I.  It’s nice, actually, to come in out of the direct heat and realize that my skirt is soaked and in the moving air of the ceiling fan, I feel quite cool.

If I didn’t have to move along each deck with a hose, I’d miss things. The scent of the “Gertrude Jekyll” roses — heady and rich:

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Or realize the source of the sweet smell I woke to around 6, drifting in my bedroom window, the second flush of wisteria:

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Or this little tree frog, huddled in a corner. It’s the same frog I moved yesterday to a cooler place, the damp soil of a pot of parsley. But here it is again:P1100444Or a corner of zinnias, not yet in direct sun but full of its colour:

P1100460And in a very faint breeze, I heard a sound I hadn’t heard before. Looking up, I realized it was the wind-chimes I made yesterday of clam shells and a few bones (a fish-jaw brought back from Ireland many years ago and a tiny fragment of vertebrae), hanging over the outdoor table like a chandelier. But with music!

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From our bedroom window at the Surf Motel

We were settling into the charming duplex unit at the Surf Motel in Victoria last Friday when we looked out the bedroom window, attracted perhaps by the loud sound of gulls on the roof next door. And this is what we saw:

I believe this is a glaucous-winged gull, one of the most common large gulls in our part of the world. We realized that it had a nest — you can see it at the base of the chimney — and then we saw the three young gulls which made our stay at the Surf such a pleasure.

The parent birds were very vigilant, one of them remaining always in proximity to the young, who spent most of their time huddled under that sheltered area where the two rooflines meet. When a parent returned with food, it would stand on the lower part of the nearest roof, call, then regurgitate a stream of breakfast which the young tucked into with gusto.


Up and down the roof the young gulls ran, their undeveloped wings fluttering a little in the wind. Sea-gulls are thought to house the souls of lost sailors but in this case they seemed a very auspicious sight for parents spending a few days in a city where their son was marrying his beloved and where the mornings were washed clean with wind off the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Those were the same winds that I knew as a child on the beach near Clover Point, this same strait with its constant gulls, and the white waves racing for the shore. I thought of Odysseas Elytis, whose poems I keep on my desk:

     My sky is deep and unaltered

     What I love is always being born

     What I love is beginning always.