Wandering, Mid-August

Three boys loop in circles on their bikes, eating popsicles and talking. Walking by, I note one boy rides an old banana-seat bike, not unlike my brother’s when he was a kid.

Monday evening, the neighborhood I walk through is unusually busy with people — a woman yanking yellowing pea vines from her garden, a young man powerwashing his deck, two women deep in conversation walking tiny dogs.

I pause at a woodshed where friends have built a tiny house to raffle for the local library addition project. The raffle’s this weekend, and we speculate about who might win. Kids, we hope. Not simply a cute toolshed.

We’ve hit mid-August when the cricket songs have shifted to a longer, slower sizzle, that gradual unwinding of their energy until the singing simply dwindles away in the fall. August is the season of gardens gone rogue — this year my enthusiastic nasturtiums have nearly eclipsed my peppers. The mornings are dim now; the mist moves back into the valley for the cool night hours.

In the rose bed, whose flowers have long fallen, a single trumpet lily blossoms, and I wonder whose hands planted this beauty? Walking by, its fragrance pulls not only the pollinators but myself.

Here’s a line from a fascinating book I found in Maine — Don Kulick’s A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea.

A language dies by contracting, by having its layers of complexity peeled off like an onion skin, getting smaller and smaller until there is finally nothing left.


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