Tonight is known as the Full Flower Moon. (Goddess knows, I won’t sleep. How many of you find it impossible to sleep on the night of a full moon?) And, Full Flower is a good name for this moon. My neighbors have roses and honeysuckle, peonies and late gardenias. I have snow-white alliums just finishing up, deep purple foxgloves (my favorites) in full, magnificent, bloom, black irises woven through the cottage bed like spots of shade, yellow kale flowers waving in the breeze, and black hollyhocks in bud. The broccoli is almost ready to pick and the magnolias are heavy with their pine-cone shaped buds. I’ve got both kinds of parsley, chocolate mint, creasey greens, and sweet woodruff in pots on the deck and columbines the color of plums waving throughout the cottage beds. The garden shed is covered in wisteria. I’m hopeful that the day lilies will bloom once more before I have to leave. I am going to miss this Bit of Earth. What’s blooming in your garden?
Here just past Beltane, my days shift between an increasing focus on my upcoming move — how am I going to get those heavy boxes of tiles from the hall to my car, can I find time to make the vegetable garden look cute for the new owners, when can I get the internet turned on at the new place, what should I pack to take to the new house before the move, where will I hang all the art, there’s too much art, I should get those other prints framed, maybe I should go look at that sculpture I saw the other day, why did I spend so much on blinds, was I crazy to do this, should I hire a student to help shelve all the books, how will I get the spices re-alphabetized, maybe I should throw away my old, chipped glassware and buy waterford or baccarat, or, no, I should wait until I move so I can have it delivered there and not here, this is the best thing I’ve ever done, can we speed things up — and increasing horror at what’s happening to America. And, so, I take the day I’d planned to finally, definitively, completely, sort out the downstairs and, instead, I use it writing postcards for a candidate who has promised not to enforce any pro-coathanger laws that Virginia’s Republican majority is promising to pass.
I think, in the end, a large part of what I want out of this move is to slough off everything that’s extraneous (I seem over the years to have bought an awful lot of candles, and baskets, and business suits, and nice purses, and jars of fancy jelly and precious pickles) and to be left with just the important bits. Not to be presumptuous, but I think that what I want is a bit like what Thoreau wanted when he said that he went to the woods:
because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
. . .
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and . . . if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
Also, I don’t want the garage of the new house to turn into a box-filled storage container (Should I pitch the giant halloween candelabras? Plan to store them on some shelves I purchase? What about the black lace spider tablecloth that the cats would tear up? How much of the yarn in my stash will I ever really use? I have 22 framed diplomas and certificates of membership in the bars of various courts, including the Supreme Court, that used to hang in my office; should I keep them, pitch them, hang them along some hall? Heaven knows, they meant a lot to me at the time, but now?????) In the end, I don’t want Son and DiL to have too big a job cleaning up after me when I dance through the veils.
Which won’t be too soon, I hope. I had my mammogram yesterday. It will be 22 years this October since I had my first mammogram and they found breast cancer. I did the whole dance: surgery, chemo, radiation, hormones. It wasn’t fun, but here I am, all these long years later, and yesterday the lovely doctor read the results and came in and said, “Your results are perfect. Wonderful. Gorgeous. No changes since last year. Have a fun weekend.” And, so, I will. Please have your mammograms and do your breast exams. Honestly, the exams have gotten easier and the treatments have gotten better in the almost quarter century since I had breast cancer. Don’t let fear stop you. Tell me in comments if you’ve had your exam and I’ll pull a Tarot card for you.
What are you cooking/eating these days? I’m trying to clean out my freezer and cabinets and to not buy any food beyond the basics: coffee, creamer, eggs, sausage, onions, apples, green tea, cheese. I’m trying to use up the dried lentils, the barley, the black-eyed peas. I’ve made several frittatas using spring veg — asparagus, spring onions, mushrooms, ramps, the spinach from my garden. And I have a big crop of lovely red lettuce that I am going to use to make kilt lettuce tomorrow. But I’m also doing more eating out/getting delivery than I like and I’m afraid that will continue until I’m settled up in the mountains. What are you cooking just now? How do you cook when you’re on the move?
Meanwhile, of course, the garden has never looked so lovely, especially the woodland garden. When Greenman and I first began to work on the garden, years and years and years ago, I was trying to describe what I wanted for the woodland garden and I said, “Have you ever stepped out of brilliant sunlight into the woods and the temperature drops several degrees and you are in dappled shade and the skin pricks on your arms and you know that you have stepped over a threshold?” And he did and that was the effect we’ve worked for ever since in that bit of the yard. And, this year, of course, we’ve finally got it. I think of the three little boys who are moving here and wish them adventures in that magical space. There’s a lot I will love about the mountains and there’s a lot I will miss about this Bit of Earth, but most of all, I will miss my woodland garden.
I moved here fifteen years ago and, the first winter that I was here, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a bright red fox dash across the snowy hill in the back yard. It was such a hugely magical moment for me. And since then, on and off, sometimes with long stretches in between, I’ve been blessed to be visited by foxes. Foxes that magically appear in the fog and have long, staring, silent conversations with me when I’m in the hot tub. Foxes that dash out in the rain and grab the bird showering beneath the downpour from the roof of the shed. Foxes that prance out in a blizzard, stare, and ask me to go back inside so they can hunt (I do). Last year, exactly on May 3rd, a mother fox and her three kits began visiting me, playing in the back yard and lounging in the woodland. This year, again on May 3rd, a mother fox and her three kits showed up and have been visiting ever since. My Beltane and welcome to it. Suburban foxes generally live about five years or so and I imagine that the current Momma Fox is the great-granddaughter or great-great granddaughter of that first fox I saw all those snowy mornings ago. Daughter foxes often stay around and help their mothers raise the next batch of kits. I will miss this matriarchy when I’m gone.
No matter how hectic life gets, we all need beauty. This week I took an afternoon to slip into the National Gallery of Art and see a gorgeous exhibit of paintings by members of the American Pre-Raphelites. Influenced by John Ruskin (about whom I have v. mixed feelings), this group of Civil War painters focused on making realistic (and so, supposedly, not so symbolic) pictures of what they observed. I especially loved Milkweed, Winter Scene in Moonlight, and A Neglected Corner of the Wheatfield. What are you doing these days to grab some beauty, art, culture, ideas? My new home will be quite near to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, and I am thinking that maybe I can volunteer there. They’re about to open a brilliant exhibit on Tiffany glass. Are there places near you that showcase art even outside of major cities?