Caring for the zinnias in late summer, I cultivate next to their roots, gently cut the bindweed that has curled around their stems. As I work, I think about my mother’s petunias and the rhubarb in my back yard in Marshfield, Wisconsin, and the raspberry patch where I gathered gallons of berries. I think about Jeanie’s rose garden of twenty years ago and her collection of lilies (they’re all done blooming for year..)
I have been reading Hunger Mountain by David Hinton. The essays in the book follow his daily walks in the mountain landscape near his home. On his excursions, he meditates on the ancient Chinese poetry he has spent his life translating. He finds joy not only in the Taoist themes of the poems but even in the simple, open grammar of their composition.
I go from zinnias to raspberries to roses to lilies to the mountain of Taoist suggestions. One of the benefits of my meditation practice is realizing how rich my scattered mind can be. In what is sometimes called “monkey mind,” a state in which thoughts continue to pour through consciousness, I find a wealth of threads.
I sketch the day and the garden together with my recollections, with a walk on the beach of Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia, with the branches of the honeysuckles in which I hunted my first birds, with coloration of regrets and acceptance, with lost afternoons in the meadows near my home town, with plans for next spring: seeding greater celandine to fill the empty season between daffodils and tulips.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of late summer. In the meantime, let your mind go; follow your monkey mind.