Friday, August 26, 2005

INDIAN SUMMER



Fall slaps us surely
in the face, shaping us up
for coming winter.

Summer's End Galore


Plenty, and good enough, my grannie would always say. I grew up tin-eared to so many of her odd turns of phrase. I was too easily tortured by schoolmates because my English was lilted. Pure Bantry Bay it was, and I fought my tongue's inclination.  I ruthlessly stripped those phrases from my speech the way a gardener tackles spring weeds in a no-nonsense sort of way while I became mute, lacking for words, between languages, I was. English to English. The ancestral tongue structuring a bearla and nearly a half a century later, I can still hear the Irish word go leor (galore), that meant plenty and enough.  My grannie was keeping the old tongue alive in a transplanted language. How many centuries were those words passed down, an unconscious act, a weed in the garden. English flourishing, despite England's best effort to strip Ireland of its Gaelic. She always said that the Irish beat the English at their own game when they took to writing. Revenge is the best sword. Drop the s and the word becomes the last word. there was nothing left for me to do but pick up the pen, a gauntlet thrown down in the grass. Ten paces at dawn. Summer's end, the end of innocence. Galore. Good enough, she'd say.

This was from my Writers' Group. I wrote little poetry but the prose went deep enough.

Roadside Weeds


Deep summer. Weeds by the side of the road, fallen pieces of the sky. Won't do any good to pluck them. All that periwinkle blue going to waste. A blue blur I acknowledge at 70 mph, as I careen north, crossing the Russian River, muddy, churning. Late rains have confused the flowers. First, the yellow flowers, then the poppies, followed by lupine and chickory. There's an order to the blooming of flowers. As if there was a grand scheme of color opposites at work. Yellow / blue. Orange / purple. The mallows and clarkia have little competition, it's magenta all the way, baby. No complement of color, unless you count the grass, but it's gone tawny as a lion, despite the late rains. All next year's seeds will germinate, only to sizzle under August's hot anvil. Dog days of summer. In my Elderwriting memoir group, Catherine says it's because the dogs always go a little crazy for lack of water. People too. The discussion circles the phrase, hackles raised, a low growl at the back of the throat. What does it mean: end of summer? The threat of disease. Lael says Rabies. A farmer's daughter would think of that. A neighbor lost his cattle when an august dog hankered after a shank of beef. Afraid to drink at the trough, bright green algae curls amid fish and cress. In a fit of domesticity, and brandishing a green thumb, when the mesclun lettuce had roots, I planted a few seeds in the herb box: arugula, and raduccio, not knowing its ancestry. But the lettuce bolted in the heat, reaching for that shiny patch of sky, it flowered and opened its blue hands. Chickory weed by any other name, by the roadside, a weed in my salad bowl, I garnish with sun-ripened tomatoes and basil. I am rabid with desire, all that red and blue and green and purple in my bowl. A bouquet for the dog days, and for what is to come. Sharp tang of fall in the air, knocking on the door of the sky.

This was from my Writers' Group.




More on chickory

DROUGHT

CHICKORY backstory

CHICKORY, ii  7/87