Keeping Up

I awoke very early this morning with a half-smile. My first thought was that this day would be warm, after the cool morning veil of fog lifts back from the edge of the Monterey Bay. It seems like I’m always waiting for the sun. As soon as it drops below the mountain behind me in the late afternoon, I’m expecting its return. While waiting for the sun, I dig out room in my garden boxes for six tomato plants and pat them down into holes in the dirt to let them slow bake for a couple of months. In a normal year, when no heavy construction is happening on my property, I dedicate more time and space to making the earth and sun produce some edibles. This year is one of rest for my garden, and, I suppose, one of partial rest for me. I don’t mind the reprieve from arduous labor. A quiet force inside of me is delighted when I keep up with nothing but my own breath.

There is simply too much commotion from the building project that continues on the side of my house, too many things, 10,000 things–household items and furniture hidden under plastic tarps on the edge of the garden. Tomatoes will have to be my whole crop this year, but they’re my favorite thing to watch grow and eat. When I put the young plants in the ground, I put cages around them so that I can tie up the sprawling vines with gardener’s tape. Then I place flat rocks over the exposed soil, around each plant. The rocks heat up during the day and slowly release the heat back into the soil at night, which quickens the time of growth. I like to think that the rocks go to work for me each night.

The sun this morning is suddenly free from this misty entrapment. One of the carpenters arrives and tells me that the glen in which we live is the only place that’s sunny. I’ve studied the phenomenon for years and know that often I have sun when everybody else is in fog. It must be the topography or wind patterns that makes this spot worthy of extra light. I don’t pay it as much attention as I once did, this getting sun before anybody else, because I know what happens next. The sun suddenly appears everywhere and I lose all imagined esteem.

Then I’m off to the beach with a towel, chair, and a Kindle, to continue reading more from wherever I left off the day before. My weakness shows up when I get to the hot sand and slide the power switch on. I’ve got, what, five electronic books in my queue of new arrivals? I’m enjoying the one I’ve read partially through, but am so curious about the others that I feel the need to open and look at a page or two from them. Not even the most studious can read five books at once. What am I trying to do to my flimsy little brain, drown it in a batch of mixed ideas? Ah, that’s right. Before absorbing further language, I must disengage all the fleeting thoughts that currently revolve inside. Stop all thinking and spend ten or twenty minutes in silent meditation.

Now I am quiet inside, and more awake. I watch the waves roll onto the beach. I do this more often than should be legal, this enjoying the feeling of being on the edge of the giant blue ocean. Dolphins swim by me in groups. Their dorsal fins all emerge simultaneously from the surface of the water. I stop watching them and turn on my Kindle to read; not one of the new books, but the unfinished one. When I look up again at the ocean, I see a man seventy-five yards offshore swimming in the same direction as the dolphins. At first I think that they are leaving him behind. Then I realize that maybe he isn’t trying to keep up with them.

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