How can you complain when you find yourself in the most beautiful place on earth? Can there really be trouble in paradise?
It’s like this.
I got some feedback on a just-drafted chapter from someone I trust. He said what I wrote was not perfect. It’s hard to write about nature when you’re in the presence of natural perfection. And manmade perfection, in the form of a perfectly built old stone wall. Can I produce anything that good, that lasts that long? Probably not.
I take my seat in my writing garden shed.
Inspire myself with some of the flowers that grow just outside.
Say a few words to my shed-mate Giselle.
Woe is me. Write a while. Dreck. Go outside.
Admire a few simple flowers.
Visit with some trees. The shagbark hickory. Its new leaves are the most incredible shade of green.
Look up at the black cherry. How tall is that thing anyway?
Marvel at a tangled fall of shattered silver maple against a bewildered black gum. Human-produced sculpture doesn’t get that good.
Something amazing. A seemingly robust old white oak.
Around the back, it’s clearly had a lot of problems, but fixed itself. The way trees do.
Down the path, the crazed contours of bark, this one a white ash.
Everyone has problems. Knee problems. Heart problems. Cash flow problems. I can put a check in all those boxes at least some of the time. There aren’t too many people to tell my troubles to.
But how can I complain, really?
Trying to learn from the persevering robin who hops by over and over again outside my writing garden shed and is rewarded with money-green inchworms. I mean, over and over again. All day.
Then I go, rock myself in the hammock.
Within a few paces of the just-blooming lilac.
So really, can I complain?
I can complain. Watch me.
I sweat my way down to the river. Think. Pick up a few what I seem to remember are water chestnuts. They might not be. They might be magic.
Think some more. All of this thinking is making my head hurt. So I stop thinking.
Pass by the cherub floating above some ripening rhododendron at the wooden loveseat.
Sometimes a thing is almost more beautiful before it’s blossomed.
When I get back to the caretaker’s cottage I find a bright green inchworm crawling on my leg. I set it outside, gently. I don’t need it.
The lawn is filled with dandelion wishes for the taking.
What the heck.
I’ll get a bigger bouquet.