The Wild GeeseHorseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
The deep blue Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii, to be precise) signals the approaching end of summer. The 87 degree day, along with brilliant blue skies, made caring for the Gardens especially sweet. These Gentians are transplants from the backyard of the home we once owned on Keyes Avenue. The few original transplants are thriving and spreading over the rocks.
Contributing to my sense that 'What we need is here" are neighbors who helped prepare the Gardens for the inevitable winter. To my left, is Percy. She is a Master Gardener, maintains public gardens located in Wingra Park and is involved in restoring Glenwood Children's Park.
Starting in 1949, Jens Jensen, known as the dean of the naturalistic style of landscaping, begin transforming the once sandstone quarry into a children's park. Stone from the quarry was most likely used to build North and South Halls, on the UW campus. North opened in 1851 and South Hall in 1867. I often walk to the nearby park and sit on sandstone slabs that make up the council ring designed by Jensen. Sitting in the shady council ring helps me, to quote from the poem, be "quiet in heart, and in eye clear."
To Percy's left is Laura, one of our dedicated volunteers. Behind me is Loren and next to him is Steve. In the back row and behind Loren is Ken and to his right is Bob. We are on a break enjoying Hungarian pastry made by Ann, my wife. Picture courtesy of Ann. These volunteers contribute so much to what is needed to maintain the Gardens.
Ken just finished cutting Joe Pye Weed. Surrounding Ken are more green plants. If you look closely over Ken's left shoulder are purple blooming Asters. As these glorious summer days transition into fall, the Asters, along with other plants, will turn brown and go into dormancy, finding what they need as winter descends on the Gardens.
As we worked, geese did not fly over the Gardens as they did in Wendell Berry's poem. About a dozen appeared in the blue sky early this morning as I did my Tia Chi on the patio of our apartment. Living on the third floor has its advantages, including watching geese fly by, just above eye level.
The next time you see geese or while enjoying this season of transition, take time to reflect on Berry's poem. Along with him pray, " not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye clear. What we need is here."