I think I prefer the lunisolar calendar to the solstice/equinox method of dividing the year into seasons. The Babylonians used it, and if you have that human need to count stuff and divide it into categories for planting and harvesting, the lunisolar calendar makes as much sense and is aesthetically pleasing, too. According to the Chinese calendar, August 23rd marked the “limit of heat.” The heat, and our current drought, may continue well into September; but as the days shorten, at least the nights cool down. The heat gets slightly less oppressive and humid. This coming week (around September 8) marks the 白露 báilù period, when “white dew appears.” I did see dew on the grass this morning.
Well, dew on the weeds. Dew on the clover and crabgrass, because the drought has killed off most of our lawn, and the tall grasses in the meadow do not get dewy. Instead, they are bedecked with spiderwebs. The red-winged blackbirds that perched on the tall grasses in June and July? They took off a little after the swallows did.
The bats, robins, hummingbirds, finches are still in evidence. There’s a distinct late-summer mood in the air, though. It is Labor Day weekend. Summer’s drought has not ended, but the slower pace of the university summer schedule has. Crickets are creaking, the swallows have departed, afternoon shadows grow longer, and the students are back on campus. I am busy.
Meanwhile, three sets of friends have had their elderly, beloved canine companions die. Dry leaves fall from the tulip poplars. Each week, my mother seems to lose a few more words from her lexicon. The jays scream every day at 4 pm.
I have been feeling a bit run dry myself. Like a small stream that needs a thunderstorm or, better still, a few good wet days to replenish it. As in: not writing. Yet I have found Charles Simic’s 1994 The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs quite inspiring, if “inspiring” in this case means nourishment for the mind and heart without actively producing anything in terms of output. The book is part of the University of Michigan’s wonderful, decades-long series Poets on Poetry.
Simic writes, “A poem is an invitation to a voyage.”
Oh, let me never get so busy I cannot go on such voyages!
Promise to take us with you.
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That’s my intent, but wish me luck.