On the deck.
Someone I wish would go away is firing a revolver upriver—not into the river, I hope, but it surely sounds that way. And now a boom. Ouch. Shotgun. The birds sound alarmed and I could be, if this keeps up.
Am I alone is thinking silence preferable? Well, maybe I don’t mean “silence.” I sure didn’t like it in the sensory deprivation tank I tried out. No, I want to hear leaves unfastening in the wind, geese honking their way south, birds chirping at the feeder. A volley; someone got guns for Christmas.
Just as housing developments follow the seeker of solitude, so does noise follow she who feeds on quiet. Another volley; Pakistan’s B. Bhutto died today.
I meant to sit on the deck here beside the river and remember backwards to Mary Harris’s onions I spent two hours with this afternoon. I wanted to recall my childlike delight in rolling back and forth her wire contraption that finds and collects pecans on her back lawn. More shots. The baby squirrels are crying. I left Mary’s and drove south on 41 to the gas station for milk, amazed that only days away from January we still have whole trees that are red and yellow; this isn’t winter, but John Muir’s “summer.” (Muir said Florida has two seasons, “summer” and “warm summer.”) I was resigned to losing this color when it rained a few days ago, but my surprised eyes feasted on burgundies and cherries all the way to the buttermilk aisle, then to the foot of my own driveway where one yellow tree’s leaves glint like coins in the afternoon light.
Mary had set (planted) her onions too deep. These are Vidalia* onions, some of the best onions in the world a man in Georgia discovered were mild and sweet because of less sulphur in his soil, back in 1931. Mary’s onions needed the soil worked away from the bulb at each plant’s base, she told me yesterday. She said I couldn’t do it by myself, but I did. I dug around the base of, maybe, 250 plants, enough that my right arm got tired and I switched to using my left (always meant to practice that, anyway) long before I got finished. Out there, in the dirt, my mind dug right along with my fingers: Daddy coming in from the field and how Mother never did get him trained to take off his boots outside the front door; “Beans, Heat, Sweat, Breeze,” a piece I wrote about cultivating a garden 20 years ago and never published; I thought, too, of that line in my book, “This lovely dirt to which we all belong”; I wonder if, when Mary reads the book, she’ll object to that. After all, she says our bodies will be restored in Heaven. Well, I tell myself, maybe she’ll look on that sentence as meaning we temporarily belong to the dirt—and then to the stars.
It’s dark now and the shooters have gone inside. Those stars will be out in a minute.
*The State of Georgia owns the Vidalia trademark. You can read all about its 14,500 acres of Vidalia onions at http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-961&hl=y