Neat little windrows

Rudbeckia bud

Black-eyed Susan/Rudbeckia hirta. New York, July 2013.

On Sunday we mowed the back lawn. It’s a gently sloping patch, roughly triangular, less than a quarter acre in size, limned by our house, a large block of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, and a very old stone wall spilling through a tangle of poison ivy, catnip, and multiflora rose into the marshland I have to come to love.

We’d ignored the mower for a month at least in favor of things like slow father-son oil changes, dinner on the deck, parenting thises-and-thats, and general weekend puttering. (We met seven years ago almost exactly. This is the first time in our life together that we’ve had Saturdays like people mean when they talk about Saturdays. We have taken to puttering like you don’t even know.)

And so when those mower blades tamed who knows how many kinds of grasses and sedges, they also took down cheerful shocks of black-eyed Susans, hundreds and hundreds of red clover heads, regal stands of Queen Anne’s lace. Knapweed, fleabane, cinquefoil, white clover, yarrow, chicory, Carolina horsenettle. So many more I don’t know yet.

I ran out and picked a fat bouquet and stuffed it in a green glass pitcher and then leaned on the deck railing, frowning a little. I do prefer this midsummer jungle to the neat little windrows the mower left behind.

But then again.

A tiny storm of seeds and insects billowed behind the mower as the grasses and flowers fell, and the barn swallows began to swoop, ever opportunistic and efficient. It was hard to stay sad, smelling that fresh cut grass. I lifted my chin from my palms and went back down to the lawn and took the clothes off the line. I buried my face in the pillowcases and t-shirts like I do every time, never not grateful for the way they smell like beach towels and bathing suits draped to dry on beach chairs in the summer sun in Cape May when I was 12.

Volunteer sunflowers are unfurling below the birdfeeder. The cherry tomato plants are teeming with ripe fruit, enough to sell out of 200 half pints at market and still have my fill any time I fancy. I’m putting them in a simple corn and tomato salad, and on top of pizza, and I should roast and freeze a mess of them, but mainly I just want to stuff my face.

Which is all to say: all those flowers were going to die soon anyway, weren’t they? With or without my moping. I am happy to be here, now.

bee, knapweed

Black-eyed Susan

Carolina horsenettle

spider, knapweed

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