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QUINTESSENCE

Summer at its Fullest

"On roadsides,
in fall fields,
in rumpy bunches,
saffron and orange and pale gold..."
-"Goldenrod," Mary Oliver, Blue Iris, 2004

Yesterday afternoon McDuff and I headed out to the bluff, lulled outdoors by a late afternoon warmth, pools of mellow light that fell through the trees. As we walked through the wild oat and dried thistle, the hillside around us caught the angle of light in a palette of caramels, dusty tans and white yellows. The sweetness of summer at its fullest. Surely fall hovers at the edge of the valley in the crisp mornings and cool nights, but here on the bluff summer holds court.

As I walked, a wordless song played through my thoughts. Duff fell behind, his nose in dusty rabbit holes. I stopped and just stood in the champagne light, looking across the valley. A raven cry drifted up from somewhere near the creek. I was filled with inexplicable happiness. As if everything had its moment and this moment had now. Floating, ebullient joy. My thoughts touched on my son and daughter, far away, their lives anchoring down for the new school term at university. I felt the erasure of geography, the delicate knots and stitches that bind us, one to another.

I offer the final stanzas of Mary Oliver's "Goldenrod" here -

"I was just minding my own business
when I found myself on their straw hillsides,
citron and butter-colored,

and was happy, and why not?
Are not the difficult labors of our lives
full of dark hours?
And what has consciousness come to anyway, so far,

that is better than these light-filled bodies?
All day
on their airy backbones
they toss in the wind,

they bend as though it was natural and godly to bend,
they rise in a stiff sweetness,
in the pure peace of giving
one's gold away."

May all of you find delight in summer's last song.


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