I don’t remember where I was but it was a beautifully dark place and I wanted to stay
from The Dragonfly Forest 2017
Beneath the shadows of the sunflowers and towering yellow blooms of candlestick plant is a place where it always stays green. A rich viridian shadow filled with the sounds of buzzing bees and the soft thumping wings of monarch and swallowtail.
In moments of clarity, my inner child recalls the microcosm, a tiny forest of a garden where the imagination could escape the stagnant heat of summer. A place where iced tea was poured over lemons and ice on patios, where children out of breath appeared like ghosts from thick tangles of nightshade and passion vine.
Before we worried about West Nile and Zika, back when mosquitoes were a nuisance instead of a death sentence. The lightning bugs in hazy fields as the sun disappeared beneath the trees. The sound of thunder and that thick unstable air where rain was inevitable.
I remember the rainbows in puddles down streets full of possibilities. Ships made of paper, wood and soap. Conversations about the future in that backyard with a best friend from the house across the street. Fossil treasures we gathered from down street and the long journey carrying them home. I miss the lightning bugs, I miss the romantic sound of rain before I was afraid of losing a roof or a windshield.
I miss the willows and the dark shadows they threw, the orioles nesting in swaying baskets in tendrils of long thin yellow leaves. I long for the white towels on clothes lines, the smell of clean linen and the whisper as they caught the breeze. The large pine tree where a litter of kittens hid beneath its bows, the nests of robins I tried to save from the backyard cats, the pussy willow tree that persisted for many summers even after the white picket fence fell and was replaced with metal wire: all of these are perfectly etched in my senses.
I’ve tried to capture this place as I got older as it meant everything to me. I’ve learned about plants to attract wildlife, I feed the birds, the caterpillars, even the possums. Nature has always been my haven even after the child grew up to stop climbing trees, long after the adult learned to avoid the sound of humming bees.
Now the the hackberry tree that I always feared would destroy the house, now lies on the back fence. The wrens and bluejays chase each other around the gnarled limbs and the dense gnarled stems of passion vine and dutchman pipe. I love the sound of blue jays shouting out hawks from neighborhood trees. I cherish the proud sound of the wren that sings so incessantly and the mockingbird that mocks his song.
Now I have to stop myself. I have to make sure I don’t miss the fragrance of the sambuc jasmine as it fills the evening air. I have to stop and listen to the wren, ignore the stagnant heat and sit on the stifling ground.. I watch the giant swallowtail drifting about the tooth ache tree and the lemon tree my ex said I couldn’t grow, it’s now 15 years old.
I miss the smell of the nightshade, the innocence of cops and robbers and hide and seek. I miss the presence of being there, searching for caterpillars, learning about the smallest details of nature, back before I had to consciously stop to experience it.
Nature never grows out of us, we grow out of it and we always miss it whether we realize it or not. There is a simplicity about the garden, the smell of my uncle Jimmies prized plump rich tomatoes that grew on fences painstakingly staked and tied. More than anything I miss being young, the time to be foolish and emerse in the garden. I long for a forest to be lost in and hope to never to be found, follow the dragonflies into the shadows, the beautiful buzzing bees, the wonderful summer sounds.