Through much of my life, my most unsettling dreams have been those in which the world that should have been familiar has changed, and the old streets are no longer what they were. The houses and trees that used to serve as markers no longer look the way they used to look. No one knows who I am.
Seasonal transformations remind me of the truth those visions hold. It seemed to me just a little while ago that summer would last forever. But the leaves darken and start to fall and the times of peonies and iris, yellow sweet clover and meadow rue have been covered over, and the old way is gone.
At the cusp of middle summer, against the looming, repeating dream of autumn, I hold tightly to images of presence: late black raspberries, bright zinnias, fields of black-eyed Susans, the songs of the cicada.
There is no recourse to the uncertainty of past or future dreams, nothing but this lily or that butterfly.
The experience of altered time and place is not a trick or a gimmick or an illusion or a nightmare fright. The warm tomato and sweet corn and the blood-red dahlia from the garden today are the only allies we have, and the awareness of their presence is the gift of great price.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fifth week of middle summer. In the meantime, accept the gift, count your allies, the flowers and the tomatoes and the corn.