The air is perfumed by the oncoming rain. The sky is dark enough for me to see without squinting. Sleep and fruitless travel wasted my morning, but then was brighter, so the day begins as I feel it did, beginning at one, after a late breakfast of leftovers: leftover meat, leftover vegetables, leftover coffee, and thoughts. Leftover ache from my teeth to my heels, intermittent, some muscles strained, others merely exercised. The yard is half way clear.
I had hoped to clear the other half before the rains would come, the weather widget on my phone delayed the fall until this evening, but practicality, reality, demonstrates tiny droplets against my skin and windows.
I’d bought some vegetables months ago, before I’d let the yard go native, them consumed along with the flagstones and the footpaths so that only a wild meadow-scape remained.
My trees are suffering from the heat and neglect, from my forgetfulness egged on by bramble making no path to the spruce’s stump where sit the next generation of trees and herbs.
I’d decided to let the yard go, wanted to encourage the wildlife pushed out from every other corner to congregate here, but only a few transient birds and one drowned mouse every manifested. One bird built its nest at the base of my now nearly leafless Japanese maple, only to live a week and a half before the nest was raided and the babies killed. The pale green eggshell I’d thought to save went missing a day after I’d found the chicks’ bodies. Yesterday I found the nest, half crushed and on its side.
I began clearing indiscriminately, tearing weeds out by the fistsfulls in an effort to make a path to the stump. As the day grew on, my tearing become more specific, I began leaving everything that was, or would soon flower, reminded by a wasp of the bees’ needs for sustenance. I made the fifteen feet to the stump, and doubled back, then circled it. I pushed on to the fence to find my forgotten vegetables, not exactly thriving, but much better for their neglect than I thought possible.
I carefully extricated the giant plants and their tiny pots and laid them gently on my porch. I worked back to the house and back to the fence, until a full half of the yard returned to something apparently so. I promised myself I’d stop when it grew dark, and then began sorting compost at eight-thirty.
When it was so dark I couldn’t see the difference between an empty strainer and a full one, when I filled it by shape without really seeing the details, the sky caught fire, turned orange, as if the clouds had ignited.
Soaked from shoulders to the thighs, dirty and muddied and spattered with compost, weeds stuck on by sweet and friction, I crossed to the river side to watch the sun fall. It had crossed behind the mountains, but the sky and the river glowed bright, an autumn sunset in the middle of summer. I watched as the colors changed slowly, intensified as they condensed into a smaller and smaller portion of the sky.
I made errant conversation with two passers by as we all marveled at the sunset. It was the first I’d spoken aloud that day.
They passed and I sat, the sun fell further and the sky went grey. My skin began to pickle, the sweat and salt chilling me against the breeze.
I dragged myself from the stone black sky to the shadow framed yard, and put away my tools, covered my compost and soil.
I ate and drank and went to sleep, thinking little of anything, and remembering less.