Monday, July 30, 2012

These July Days

It's been a busy time, and I haven't been posting recently because of:

1.  The Garden.  Every year in midsummer I alternately rejoice and despair.  How can just nine raised beds, 4'x4' each, produce such quantities of organic, practically free, and therefore sacred food?   In the spring, as I push in the seeds or set out the baby plants, I never  anticipate the summer explosion.  And even if I did, I wouldn't want all that chicken-enriched compost, laboriously hauled out by me in the fall and dug in in the spring, to go to waste.

So now I have to deal with the result of my spring enthusiasm.  The kale and chard are the most spectacular, with leaves as big as palm fronds.  The tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are ripening nicely.  The zucchini took a three-day break after its initial output and now is back with a vengeance.  The broccoli is still going strong.  And the three beds of beans, which I planted with my granddaughter V's assistance, are setting fruit.  The more you pick, the more you reap is the paradoxical law of gardens.  And it's true:  I pick and pick and cannot even make a dent in the horn of plenty that is my potager.  And so I wonder, how can there be hunger in this world?  Where is the missing link between earth and table?  Is it time, focus, water, knowledge?  I am grateful for the local food bank which absorbs my plenty, but I wish I could do more.

2.  The Book.  I have, as you may remember, been working on a memoir of my decades with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).  Having finished what is known in the trade as the shitty first draft, I am now struggling with the (to me) equally shitty second draft.  It's a hard balancing act, staying true to the experience of the illness while keeping the reader and myself away from utter despair.  I'm bringing my dogs into the story to help with this, just as they helped me get through the long years.  I'm thinking of adding illustrations, the kind of drawings I did in the early stages of this blog, but wonder if I have the stamina.

3.  The CFS.  This is the big one.  For many years, July has been a difficult month for me.  Even before I was diagnosed, I would always go to a doctor in July, complaining that things weren't right.  The doctors never found anything, which, as we now know, is typical of CFS presentations.  But what is it about July that gets me every time--the solstice, the heat, the tiny shift towards darkness, the alignment of the planets, the blooming of the goldenrod?  Regardless, I find myself careening between pretty good and goddam awful days, missing events I don't want to miss, holding back from projects I'm dying to take on.  It's a shaky thing, life with CFS, never knowing what tomorrow will be like. 

But then, life itself is shaky, and we never really can be sure about tomorrow, so what I'm dealing with is basically the human condition, only more so.

9 comments :

  1. Yes, add illustrations and some you have already created. Remember many others, besides us - your adoring followers, will be reading your book! There is no rush and enjoy the summer and it bounty. We hope to see you in October!

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    1. mrb, "Adoring followers," now that's something to keep a writer writing! Looking forward to seeing you, but I hope you come before the 24th. We'll be in...Alabama then.

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  2. There was an "s" on its when I wrote it but iPad auto-correct is very maddening!

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  3. I think it's water, plus war, plus unequal distribution. It does seem inconceivable during some harvests.

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    1. Bridgett, yes--war especially, and also poorly planned urbanization.

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  4. Well, my kale stands a pathetic 1.5" high, and I can't distinguish the chard from the beet greens. If I were relying on my potager, I would starve. So I think it's soil quality.

    About the book: I think you should include that early wasteland drawing, plus some of the blog drawings. And try Styron's "Darkness Visible" for inspiration on painful memoir.

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  5. Alison, I'm going to send you a bag of my chicken house sweepings this fall!

    And thanks for the Styron reminder. I've been trying to remember that title.

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  6. Mika's dream of happiness: a bag of chicken manure arrives in the mail. I hope Alison's dogs enjoy!

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    1. Elizabeth, you know that dream could come true without even having recourse to the mail...

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