My father loves to garden. He grows everything, from grapes to figs, peppers to parsley. When we got dogs, however, he had to fence in his precious plants with big red bricks and rolls of chicken wire. He succeeded in keeping Charlie and Brownie out, but the plants didn’t want to be contained. A few years later long tender shoots of squash are draped over the wire. Cucumber leaves cover the bricks. Everything is at its peak. These plants sure seem to know what they’re doing. Flowers know when to open and close, tomatoes know just how big they’re going to grow, and strawberries stay hidden behind a curtain of leaves. Plants have life all figured out. I wish I could do that: know exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Then there are, of course, squirrels that dig up seeds, rabbits that eat the vegetables, and beagles that trample delicate spinach leaves. Not even plants in protective cages can avoid the inevitable. A tomato from this garden is destined to marriage with salt. Even the perfect August tomato, stretching its deep red skin, leaving a tangy tingle on my tongue and slightly stinging my sun-chapped lips, will eventually be forgotten. All these leaves, although protected by my father, will soon wither into brown bits of autumn. Even when they die, they will be beautiful, especially when coaxed by the gentle breeze into dance, a swirling, joyful expression of life. Even when they crumble in my hands, these leaves will be beautiful, for that is real magic I hold. This was once a living thing, a green growing life. I will blow it toward the sunset, and the little particles will vanish.
prose about the peak of summer