What you see when you’re not looking

I was watering the cucumber boxes this morning, standing with the hose nozzle on “shower”, letting the soft water fall over the lush plants. It wasn’t until the tree frog jumped that I realized I’d been noticing that there was something on one of the leaves.

This must be one of this year’s hatchlings. Yesterday I was watering tomatoes on the upper deck when a larger tree frog jumped from the plant down to the saucer but when I returned with the camera, it was nowhere to be seen.

Of course I’m wondering what else I’ve missed by not paying attention. The opening of these lilies, for one. The other day they were buds. This morning, late summer brides.

I have¬†observed, though, that the bear scat is full of blackberry seeds so that means it’s time to go berry-picking for jam. And I’ve also noticed that the sun is different, passing from Mount Hallowell where it rises to Texada Island where it sets on a more southerly trajectory than in high summer. Our light is different, more golden and diffused.¬† The nights are cooler and the air smells of salal berries, autumn’s wine.


Some mornings feel like accumulations of every morning I’ve known. The fire in the woodstove smelling of cedar, the perfection of the first cup of coffee, the cool air as I walk out to water new seedlings. Last night I heard an owl very near the house and I hoped it wasn’t feasting on the nestlings by my study window. This morning the robin parents are busy taking worms back to the nest so that’s a relief. Birds, flowers, the sight of the sun coming over Mount Hallowell about twenty minutes ago, beginning the long journey to the mountains we can see in the west, beyond Texada Island, where it slides into darkness later and later each evening, an accumulation of every sunrise, every dusk.

When I went out to begin the watering, I looked up to see the wisteria, a pale cloud above the patio. It blooms twice. The first, just happening, is silvery — the flowers open first, a haze of them, and then the new leaves. The second flowering is later, in July, and the blossoms are hidden among the lush deep green leaves so that we barely see them, though the scent of them in early morning or late evening is delicious. We have three wisterias, two of them brought by John’s mum many years ago as rooted offshoots from hers in her Nanaimo garden (and I think she brought the original cutting from John’s grandmother’s garden in Suffolk). Our third wisteria is one I layered from this one and it grows over the western deck, filling in a trellis also claimed by grapevine. It’s lovely to sit there in a green shade on summer evenings. I have a new string of chili pepper lights to loop through the stems…

And the lilacs! Most of ours come from an old plant in my parents’ garden in Royal Oak. It was a common lilac, very hardy, and each year they’d dig away the little shoots that came up around the main trunk. It occurred to me that I should take them back with me and so now I have both a sense of continuity when they bloom, and also loss.

And here’s sweet woodruff by the woodshed

and a pot of tulips like small planets in their pot in a corner of the deck.