Sunday, May 23, 2010
But there is a particular moment in time when the gardener can utter the word tranquility and, more poignantly, experience it even as the body moves about: at dawn. Each year, as summer approaches, my body experiences an odd celestial alignment, and I awake earlier and earlier. I arose in the blackness of the early morning and went about my business. A steady rain fell, but that did not nor could not stop me. Rather, darkness reigned, so gardening ventures had to be postponed.
After grading a few more papers, answering emails, and reading the news, I wandered about outside. Neighbors slept. All human-produced or related sound was momentarily purged from my small portion of the globe. A light rain occasionally, briefly fell. Droplets of water artistically collected on the delicate leaves of the Lady's Mantle. A euphony beckoned: the black capped chickadee perched on a wire above my head most likely was communicating with its kin, but I only heard a conversation between it and the warbler. And though the mockingbird did exactly what its name suggests, the wrens ignored its impetuous disdain and awarded me with a symphonic colloquy.
Miss Gray Kitty, a sweet, affectionate little girl who neighbors abandoned last fall and who now resides on my front porch, followed me as she does, occasionally meowing to protest that the dahlia received more attention than she.
Big Blue Angel and Lemon Drop hostas greeted me—the latter even eagerly displaying a slug that it wished me to smite; I happily acquiesced. I walked to and fro, being careful to make as little sound as possible.
Tranquility, I opined, is misunderstood. In movement, even in frenetic stirrings, one may experience the most sublime form of tranquility—one not even engendered by sitting in the garden. At that moment I glanced at the Buddha, and thought, “a good Buddhist I would not make, for I cannot sit still.” And the Buddha, its eyes permanently closed in meditative posture, winked at me. And the chickadee belted a mellifluous tune. I stood upright, feeling at one and at peace with the world, being careful not to disturb the ephemeral serenity of the early morning, and went about my business intent on doing my part to keep torture at bay.