From 0 to 90 in 4.5 nanoseconds - we wait and wait and complain and yearn for the heat of summer - and then whammo, it comes in so fast. And then we complain. So Northwest! And do remember, it will be raining on the Fourth of July weekend.

Last weekend's dramatic change in the weather upset any notions about carrying on as usual. The heat felt so oppressive. The crisp marine air was non-existent. Bustling about with a full list of activities lost its appeal. Time to move slowly, to relax into the heat.

I had the good fortune to relax into Stanley Kunitz's last book, "The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden" (ISBN 0-393-06141-8). This extraordinary book is a paean to the power, mysteries and renewable energy that the garden bestows upon her devoted servants. And Mr. Kunitz freely acknowledges that his garden was as important as his work as a poet. "I am curious. I'm active. I garden and I write and I drink martinis."

His garden in Provincetown, Mass., came about because of his need for a sense of community. He says that as a poet "he experienced a certain loneliness": "I have been driven to search for a community in which I could feel at home. Provincetown, I might add, is a place where one is permitted to indulge in one's follies."

The book is a collaborative effort. Genine Lentine, a poet, teacher and student of the garden, and Mr. Kunitz's literary assistant, pulled together a collection of essays and conversations with the poet from 2002 through 2004. The work ranges through personal recollections, the creative process and the harmony of the life cycle, in addition to some of Mr. Kunitz's poems. Marnie Crawford Samuelson's photographs of the poet in his garden accompany the text.

I could write forever about this book, quoting copiously. For those of you who find solace and inspiration in your gardens, I am sure that this book will speak to you in a very deep way. For those of you feeling shut down due to loneliness, ill health or just a vague ennui, this book, I believe, will bring much hope and profound and nurturing insights.

The publisher is currently deciding about reprinting it - I promise to return my library copy next week.

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