Friday, September 06, 2013


The plants on the windowsill are telling me it's almost time to move on. The tomatoes are drooping and brown, the peas collapsed into a tangled mess. What lettuces remain in the garden belong now to the bugs. The kale is tattered. The chard has given up the ghost.

Time to pack the bags, board the plane, span the Atlantic. Our brief Irish summer was over in a flash, like a penny firecracker. New England's summer will linger. Then we'll get that glorious reprise, called "Indian summer" for a reason I've never known and too lazy to find out.

I look at the plants on the windowsill here in my study and I remember something Van Gogh said: He called the world a study that didn't come off. At least I think he said it. Annie Dillard told us so in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Anyway, my frazzled plants do indeed look like an unfinished sketch. There'll be no more brush strokes to fill them in.

Annie Dillard, as I recall, disagreed with Van Gogh. The book is here on my shelf and, yes, the passage is easy to find, in the chapter called "Intricacy":
This is the pervading intricacy of the world's detail: the creation is not a study, a roughed-in sketch; it is supremely, meticulously created, created abundantly, extravagantly, and in fine.
She's right, of course. My faltering plants are part of the intricacy, their decay meticulous. They'll go into the compost and be recycled abundantly. The same can be said for me. And you. Death is the artist. Down there below, the crows take flight over Ballybeg. The crows spread their darkling shadows over the stubbled fields.

(A reprise here tomorrow, Anne on Sunday. In transit early next week. Back on Thursday.)