Friday, July 23, 2004

Today is the day of turning.

Every July there is one day during which it seems that all of nature has reached its pinnacle and is turning towards decay. I can always sense this moment; it comes in the middle of a hot and still day when there is just a hint of wind, but where the stillness is like the point at the top of a parabola where an object is neither rising or falling, but is held still in itself, and perhaps begins to look at the next half of its journey.

Today things are held like that. It is very hot here, 30 degrees C in the shade. On the deck in front of my office, the wood is too hot to walk on. The sun is baking the oils out of the cedar decking and so the air has the scent of cut wood.

The ground is dusty and dry, and our rainforest tempered trees and shrubs, the cedar and salal, oceanspray and sword ferns are desperate for moisture. Only the arbutus trees seem to be truly in their element.

The night air is still except for the occasional katabatic breeze from cooler air flowing down the mountainsides towards the sea. The breeze refreshes, and is just enough to make sleeping possible. The ocean water beckons, cool and inviting. It no longer chills the body when you enter, and there is no urgency to retreat to the beach.

The salal berries are ripe and drying on the bush. Blackberries are already in season, a month early it seems. Some canes are loaded with the dark purple fruit while blossoms still flower on others. Everyone seems widely astonished by the early black berry season. Every other berry this year except for the thimbleberries have enjoyed a great season. The thimbleberries were small and dry and flavourless.

This is what the months of growth and vitality have produced in the land around our house. And today seems to presage the decline that will accelerate with the shortening days. Already by midnight, Pegasus has moved into view in the gap to the southeast of the house. The summer triangle is moving off to the west and the Andromeda galaxy is climbing high into the sky. I think about ordering firewood for the winter.

The I Ching advises that the fullness of a moment contains the seeds of its opposite. Today that seem more apparent than ever.