After such a beautifully blissful Saturday last week, the following week wore on in a surprisingly desultory fashion. The headlines continue to provoke fear and horror. Much ado about Cheney using the F-word, while genocide and famine are multiplying at an exponential rate in the Sudan. Our checkbooks are getting more out of balance while each day we learn more about corporate greed, especially the pharmaceutical companies right now. And then Saturday everyone had a garage sale that clogged the streets, leading to badly parked SUVs, bad driving and having to see the banality of private lives laid out on tables and lawns and driveways. At 9 o'clock Sunday morning came the roaring cacophony of the power saw taking down a beautiful pine tree that had softened my view of some neighboring structures. Now I can look directly into rooms that I have no desire to view.
Unmitigated crabbiness had settled into my pores. Cellphone users and sweet, dear compatriots at work wore on my nerves; conspiracy theories seemed to be everywhere, along with late-night shrill talk and stupid giggles outside my windows at the smelly, neighboring barbecue parties! My list of ills would make an old curmudgeon, like Andy Rooney, sound like an eternal optimist.
Enough, I screamed to myself. Go sit in the garden.
It took a bit of doing to just sit there and believe that a sense of calm would magically appear. I tried to focus on the birdsong rather than the roar of my neighbor's lawn-edging machine. Slowly the tenacity of the birdsong won. As I watched the small birds flit through the branches of the maple tree and the pine tree, I began to notice the beautiful evening light illuminating the subtle shades of colors in the leaves and the clusters of needles. A dropping pinecone brought my attention down to the garden beds. They appeared to be a bit parched, so I set the sprinkler, which added the soothing sound of water to the scene.
Dinner was late that night. The garden had captured me. There was a bit of weeding to do and cutting back the spent blooms. Then a bit of raking and sweeping to set things right. And finally, with the last light fading fast, a fresh bouquet of sweet-smelling roses were picked along with some herbs for the dinner meal. The final sentence - "We must cultivate our garden" - in Voltaire's "Candide" suddenly had a renewed resonance.