Other (not always) wordless friends:
In summer I swim.
In the spring I remember how my dad said spring is the best time in the garden because everything is just starting, every bit of green is a gift, a surprise, a joy… unlike in summer when there’s just too much… everywhere, too much colour, too much muchness. He was right of course.
In winter I traipse a labyrinth in the snow.
But it’s this time of year, before winter, when it’s no longer really fall, when the leaves are mush but the snow hasn’t come yet, that it’s easy to think there’s nothing left for you to see in the garden.
You’d be wrong of course.
Because it’s only now that a certain sun becomes visible again after being hidden behind the foliage of a giant dogwood.
And how would you ever find the bluebird that fell from its branch on the burning bush, a bird you never see in summer through the green leaves or in the fall through the bright red ones but now in the naked season, and only if you walk close enough to think: hey where’s that bluebird?? —there it is.
Every year you swear this moss is new.
And every year you are reminded at least once of something that that will grow next year for the first time.
Or see tiny footprints outside tiny doors?
Would you remember patriotic moose (not to mention extremely quiet mice)?
What blows your mind every year is how it’s all there all year round, buried in snow or hidden by show-offy leaves turning orange and gold, not to mention being upstaged all summer long by purples and blues, yellows, reds and pinks… oh my god, don’t even talk to me about reds and pinks… so needy… look at me, look at me!
Those pinks. Such hams.
Fred excepted of course.
Find yourself driving from the Halifax airport to the Annapolis Valley when you see a sign for Coffee. Decide to stop, stretch your legs. It doesn’t matter that you don’t drink coffee, maybe they have something else, which they do… because you are at The Tangled Garden, which has not only beautifully out of season, unruly paths (devoid of other humans) that lead to a labyrinth, but also jams and spicy jellies and chairs made specifically for fairies.
A few days later in Annapolis Royal find yourself at the Historic Gardens where once again you are the only souls wandering this 17 acre space that abuts a wetland complete with dykes.
A few days later still, in Halifax, spend the better part of a grey morning at the Public Gardens and marvel at this splendid bit of greenery in the heart of downtown.
Notice the extraordinary number of garbage cans in almost every conceivable space. (Regret not counting them.) And the corresponding lack of litter. Realize that you have never seen such generosity displayed (of the waste receptacle variety). There is even an off-stage area for garbage-cans-in-waiting, presumably in case any of the regulars get injured in some way.
Take your rooibos chai outside to the deck where no one else dares to venture in October and watch those who wander the garden paths and wonder how it is that so many people are able to drink tea/coffee while walking. You have never mastered this skill nor do you want to as it seems to deny maximum pleasure of both activities.
Notice a man in a trench coat, a fedora and a bow tie.
Notice him stopping and looking at you from the path just beyond the deck.
When he says “Are you with the cruise?”, answer that no you are most definitely not nor would you ever be. Offer that there are a number of people inside the tea house and perhaps they are with the cruise if he’s looking for people from the cruise. He says he is not, he was just curious.
Realize that you are now engaged in conversation and that it’s only a matter of time before he walks up onto the deck and sits down at your little table and proceeds to talk for at least forty minutes, most likely longer, during which time you learn a multitude of things about him, not the least of which is that he is 83 years old and was once Harbour Master at the Port of Halifax and that under his trench coat he is wearing a leather blazer that he bought at a thrift shop for $2.00. He tells you that he often comes to the gardens to dance with his wife on a summer night when a band is playing and that they’re even on YouTube he says. (You will google this later and find that it’s true and then you will never be able to find the video again., which will be annoying as you write this post. Nuts, you will say.)
The best you have to offer is a furtive snap of him walking away after exiting the gardens together and agreeing it was lovely to meet.
Found on the Bay of Fundy shore beside an off-the-grid cottage in a tiny Annapolis Valley fishing village where we spend a week in the woods without running water, indoor plumbing, a flush toilet, electricity and other what-you-think-of-as-essentials-but-really-aren’t.
Though I can tell you I missed a flush toilet.
But let’s not dwell on that.
Let’s cut straight to the hammock, where I spend several happy minutes despite a chilly drizzle. (It’s amazing how not having a flush toilet will automatically lower the luxury bar. Cold, damp hammock lolling felt downright hedonistic.)
Note: this hammock break is taken while fetching logs for the wood stove, which has to be kept running around the clock as it’s the only source of heat. It’s also where we warm water (from huge jugs that are brought in) to wash our faces and/or have a sponge bath. No shower facilities inside. Although there IS a shower outside. And by outside I mean a sort of lean-to at the edge of the forest, with a hook from which you hang a ‘bladder’ (a large bag of water that has either been left in the sun to warm, or filled with water warmed in a pot on the wood stove). It’s about 7 degrees most days. I have one shower while there. And, surprisingly, it turns out to be quite brilliant, staring out at the tides as I soap up and rinse off, albeit, quickly.
A few days later the wind picks up.
Do we care? No we do not. This town has heat AND indoor plumbing.