One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

In the Midnight Garden

I’m standing on the back deck of the house, looking up between the treetops. There’s a few big clouds drifting across the moonless night sky and in the dark void between them is the glitter of a thousand diamonds.

The stars have returned and just in time for August, when magical things happen up there. I think I see a glimmer of something shifting around and wonder if there’s even a slight chance its some kind of aurora.

It almost never is, but once or twice it has been, so I am filled with hope.

After accidentally blinding myself a time or two with the motion sensitive spotlight there, I walk through the house and barefoot, out onto the front lawn, newly mown. I feel the loose bits of grass on my feet as I walk out through the cool damp, refreshing on my toes. A hundred Chester Crickets are in concert in yards all up and down Not Wisteria Lane, their music punctuated by the occasional whirring chirp of a katydid.

Jupiter hangs in the southern sky, the brightest thing there. When I first saw it earlier this evening, it had a bright orange glow about it, giving the impression of a single burning ember from some faded skyrocket, suspended in time and space, forever descending from the heavens. By now, just midnight, that color has burned off, faded, so that only a glimmer of gold remains to the otherwise white star-planet.

On one hand, August’s arrival is always a bit of a trial. It’s the month to be a tourist on the Cape and so they are absolutely everywhere around us. And they have no qualms whatsoever about us knowing they are here. Including in the rental house across the street, where they have left the lamp post light burning tonight. My candle lanterns, often the brightest thing on the street, are overpowered by its white gleaming.

I wish I had that gadget Professor Dumbledore used in the first Harry Potter book, that took the light from all the street lamps on Privet Lane. It would be rather handy just now.

On the other hand, in just a week it will be time to choose a beach blanket and a dark spot on a sandy beach with a broad sky above, where I can lay back and watch the annual Perseid meteor show, always a taste of the spectacular on a stunning summer night.

Shading my eyes against the bright lamp light, I try to make sense of the stars. It’s one of those nights where there are so many, it’s almost hard to pick out the key constellations…not that I know them all, anyway. And that lamp’s not helping.

A red light appears in the distance to the west, high above, and I watch as it cuts a straight line overhead, becoming three lights, moving fast, some international flight from Providence or maybe New York, and heading who only knows where across the sea.

I wonder if they know I can see them from down here, if they think about it. As the plane slides by overhead, I can hear its engines suddenly, the force behind the effortless speed. And then it’s gone inside a cloud and to the east.

I wish I had a rock for that lamp. And I wish I didn’t throw like a girl.

And I wonder if you’re looking at the same stars where you are.


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