It's my annual navel gazing day. The garden is 8 and I am, well, much older than it. I want to start with an excerpt from my unpublished memoir, Turkey Red, which I rediscovered this week, then share pics (in collage format to save space -- click on them to embiggen):
There’s an emptiness in the Plains.
It’s not a literal emptiness because it is our absence which is most present.
And yet our existence has redefined the absence: you can get lost in a corn
field, lay down in the wheat and just vanish—no one will ever find you.
It’s a dangerous thing being lost to
the horizon. Walking any open field we are both compass point and sun dial,
searching for home in the time allotted us on this earth. At most we will
discover that while alive we’re as ethereal as a memory. Cross paths with a
mountain lion or sandhill crane or butterfly or prairie dog and we will know
the silence we carry inside, the silence we insist upon field after field.
There’s nothing here because we made it so. Our absence is present in the rows
stretching to infinity off the highways and county roads.
But stop. A dung beetle is moving
from shadow to shadow underneath the sunflowers, pushing its brown marble over
pebbles, past cracks, and through thick brush. When I was a kid I’d sit near an
ant hill—the inverse funnel pushing out ants like a great heart pumping blood.
Each body scatters in every direction, following the marked trails out beyond
the center of their lives. Can you imagine being an ant or a dung beetle? Can
you imagine? You have never been anything else, following the narrow path laid
out for you, but pushing your burdens before you like they were the only
treasure you’d ever had. When we enter the earth from another perspective we
become our truest selves—we give up the right to take away other lives and
enter into an unwritten contract that we signed at our births. We are here,
made of the same stuff as everything else. We are here for only a moment, too, already
absent in our presence until we go mad with the terror of our short lives and
break the contract. The only way to rewrite ourselves is to walk the horizon
until the prairie comes back.