“Here’s what I want to give you. I want to give you the low slant of light as fall creeps in. I want to give you a double handful of freshly picked raspberries too soft to do anything but eat immediately. I want to give you the persistent, ridiculous abundance of dandelions. I want to give you fresh strawberries in August, and other small miracles….”
A poem for the sunset of summer and the dawn of autumn.
Transcript and notes:
Recorded 24 August 2023.
Here's what I want to give you.
I want to give you the low slant of light as fall creeps in. The gift of living at a northern enough latitude to see that and to feel it in my bones. I want to give you the cool morning and bare feet in the grass. I want to give you slightly desiccated cherry tomatoes, as the vine grows and grows, as the shadows grow longer. I want to give you cool water on a hot day.
I want to give you the spark and the flame, the magic of fire out of nowhere. Flint and tinder, or maybe a bow drill. Maybe a magnifying glass and the light of the sun. Here's what I want to give you. I want to give you the nutria and the beavers, the ducks and the geese and the crows. The ones I myself have not given even myself in so long.
Because heavy hearts are hard to carry up and down hills. Because smoke is thick because heat is heavy and yet we need them. I want to give you the fawn that we saw on our way to the middle of nowhere to pick up the saw that was a bit of a miracle; that is unfurling, unlocking, some deep, long ago place in my heart. I didn't know until now, that one of the things that happened when I left my last table saw behind- there was a kind of internal betrayal.
I wonder, I wonder if picking up the guitar again eventually will have a similar unlocking event.
My life is a long line of detritus. Flotsam and jetsam kicked up on the beaches of one move after another after another after another. I need a tide high enough to bring everything back down. Some time under a full moon. Some king tide, some everything lining up moment. Maybe this is that.
I keep hoping that everything is lining up this time. In this moment when nothing seems to be lining up what I want to give you is gently orderly rows and columns. Not so sharp that they've been lined with a ruler. Just, just enough, A bit of orderliness. A bit of comprehensibility. A bit of "I can get my arms around this" in a world that keeps growing so large and wide and messy that it never feels quite embraceable. And yet that desire to embrace it doesn't go away. It doesn't fade.
Being okay and sufficient right now. It's okay to have the thing. One of my partners said to me, even if you never make anything with it, because it makes you feel better to have it. That had never occurred to me in all my years. I want to give to you- I want to give to you the knowing that you do not have to make everything a worthwhile investment.
You yourself are not an investment. I am still in the very early stages of learning this.
I want none of us to be an investment, ever. That thing that's going around that says that in Western culture, we believe that everybody's value is based on their productivity. And in indigenous cultures, your whole job is just to exist, like the flowers and the bees. You just, you exist. We have interdependent relationships, but our value is immeasurable, and not predicated on anything. I want to give you that.
I want to give you a double handful of freshly picked raspberries too soft to do anything but eat immediately. I want to give you the persistent, ridiculous abundance of dandelions, hell bent on bringing nutrients up from the depths of the soil, and laying them out on the surface where anyone can get to them. Just like that. Just like that.
I want to give you the heat-driven persistence of Japanese knotweed, which does not seem to quit, ever. And yet, it is most excited when it is really hot. I want to give you the wisdom of the little ants, that when they smell each other's death, they go another way. I want to give you delicious food made by someone who loves you.
I want to give you the soft moment last night with a cup of tea, made soothing by the fact that it was given to me by someone who wanted to help me rest.
I want to give you hands in the dirt and the knowing of the dust, of the clay, of the richness of the soil that has been amended and turned over and composted into something else. I want to give you the thistles. Small ones and the large ones, the edible ones. The artichokes making those glorious, ridiculous purple flowers. If you don't eat them first.
I want to give you the opportunity to not be eaten first. To not think about being eaten first. To not be eaten at all, but to live a full life and die and decompose. And the gracious collapse of softening limbs. I want to give you rain. The relief of rain, the softening of rain, the beating of rain. The opening of rain and of water. I want to give you the bone deep peace that allows you to wait. As one Lutheran pastor said, "the drop of water makes a hole in the stone not by its weight, but by it's constantly dropping."
I want to give you the breathing room for that. I want to give you finger paints and colors. I want to give you the smoothness of a mulling, of a paint made from a plant. I want to give you the satisfaction of making something out of something, without any interference from anyone else. Growing a plant and making cordage from it with just your hands and the stems of the plant. Or baskets. Or something.
I want to give you- I want to give you all the somethings that brings us to life. That give us roots. That spread our rhizomes. That knit us together in biochemical networks. I want to give you bone deep feeling of knowing that you're part of everything.
I want to give you fresh strawberries in August, and other small miracles. The persistence of peppermint. The delicacy of so many things. The knowing that this is your place like it is all of our places.
I want to give you welcome.
I want to give you home.