Friday, 1 November 2013

The Moment - In The Summertime

Well it's been a tough couple of weeks, for reasons too difficult to explain, and I look back to a month ago with an aching wistfulness for when everything seemed more or less alright.

Wish I'd properly been there, properly seized the moment, not just drifted along, unappreciative and half-awake.  Now I'm suffering the joint attacks of hope and apprehension.  I'm hyper-alert, all my sleepy complacency gone.  There's a piercing quality to everything I see,  movement is tense and slow.

In the normal course of events, when things are roughly OK, it seems to me that there is something faintly amiss with the way our eyes link us to our surroundings. We look where we are not, we can never quite be where we see. An ineffable slight detachment follows. Always fussing, never really feeling our own happiness except when we forget ourselves, lurking back there behind the visual organs.


Any garden-lover, any nature-lover, reaches for moments of heightened awareness.  Something strikes you, an arrangement of leaves and light perhaps, a grouping or a shape, a distance, a colour, a detail, a sense of enclosure, a feeling of mystery.  These are good drugs for the heart and soul.  We long to suck them in and possess them.

sedum acre, bark, stone

Somewhere or other

Gardening, at its heart, is an exercise in the capture and domestication of such moments.  But it is an exercise that is often foiled, often a let-down and a disappointment.  Rarely a true sorrow though: loss, threats and destruction are where sorrow lies, and gardening usually feels more like hope and creation.  Those illuminated moments are like fireflies, promises in the dark.

Side view of the famous steps at Naumkeag, MA

You don't have to pay much for those seconds of enraptured perception, only in longing and thwarted desire, even as they happen and pass.  You clutch your camera, you swear you'll remember: how it is, the hereness, the nowness, the sublimity.  I've plucked my harp on this subject before, believing in the transient sweetness and the way it links us to nature and causes us to garden.

Jenkyns Arboretum, Wayne PA


Here's the song -In The Summertime, from the album Shot Of Love.  A kindly harmonica, full of
hope and goodwill, a gentle little song about the clouds parting and a big old face peering through. There's a lot of bitter, confused and coded detail in between but none of it matters much.  The soft and shining sea has already, in the first few lines, put us somewhere in the realms of gold.

Time slows and stops, something is given, something is taken, never to be lost.  Despite the code, the song is straight and simple.  I think he means it.

I mean it too, though I must insist -  no face appears.  In my world, we're stuck, so sadly sometimes, with what we've got.

Jenkyns Arboretum, again


  1. I like what you say about gardening capturing moments...of heightened perception. It is entirely true, and possibly the only reason it is done, for me, anyway. You have seen something...and you want to keep it, preserve it. You want to honour it and you want that moment to be star of the stage.

  2. Thank you for your comment - you've really got to th heart of what I wanted to say. How lucky that the quest often reveals new heightened moments, ones we didn't always plan for.
    I loved your old photographs in that book by the way.

  3. What a very fine meditation on awareness and the nourishing power of encounters with natural beauty. Spectacular light here--now as days grow shorter and cooler it's that much more golden clear. Wishing you "good drugs" moment by moment, one day at a time.

  4. Thank you Leslie, such a lovely comment, and your good wishes are with me now.

  5. There are few occasions other than when I’m in the garden that I have that true, deep feeling of ‘everything is right’, contentment; call it what you will. I think that IS why we need to garden. I really appreciated reading your thoughts over at my blog.

  6. Thank you for visiting Christina. Like me, you know that gardening is a never-ending resource, offering so much, and hopefully through a whole life..