I saw you at 19th & Idaho. You were sitting in the shade under the golden plum tree, a black wheelbarrow with white racing stripes and a strawberry red velvet heart taped to the handle grip. Magically, you showed up in my garden. Such a hypnotizing contrast: night black and bright red. I couldn’t stop looking your way. You cast a spell on me. You are both beautiful and useful. I love you. I wonder who left you in my garden. Who’s the wonderful person that wears their heart on my wheelbarrow?
Little red trumpet flowers lure hummingbirds into my backyard. Texas Hummingbird Sage works like a red heart. Wings buzzing, hummingbirds glide through the air, stopping briefly to lightly lip the sage flower and slowly insert their beaks deep inside the trunk. Gently they nibble the inner depths of the silk red petals. One flower and then the next, they hover collecting nectar from a dozen different flowers. Suddenly they’re off with the summer breeze over the fence to the next flower patch. The sage and I are left quivering slightly and glowing with satisfaction. Just as I let out an ecstatic moan, I swear, I hear the sage plant do the same.
These little seeds of love look nothing like a heart. They’re long and bulge in the middle like a canoe. The seed dangles from the tip of the toothpick, clinging to my spit, until I release her into the soil block. I need to use a dampened toothpick to pick up just one seed from a cup full. The damn things are tiny. Usually I fail to pick up just one lettuce seed and two end up in one hole. Comforted, watered, talked to, and loved, these nearly microscopic seeds grow up to be lettuce heads – a salad for four. One salad can provide energy enough for two afternoons of garden work. All from one tiny seed. Magic!
Another seed slightly bigger, almost heart shaped, needs 15″ of garden space, love, water, and boom! Two months later a 2′ plant births little white flowers. Bees, birds, crawly insects, and hornets visit. A month goes by and little green bumps have replaced the flowers and grown into 2″ peppers, the width of your middle finger, that slowly ripen in the summer heat from yellow into a boastfully proud carrot orange chili. Hot little fuckers and divine grilled on a kabob with rosemary crusted lamb and sweet red Italian onion. Yum. From seed to belly. Sassy. Hot spice on the palate. Wow. It’s all so magical, I naively believe…
Ankles deep in the mud, irrigation water bathes my shins as I trudge through the flooded garden. It’s 4 o’clock in the morning and my heart is no longer in a mood to be impressed by magic. I think, magic my ass. Upon further thought, I note, heart shapes don’t even resemble an actual heart. It’s a make-believe symbol, a fairy tale, just like magic. Just like the thought that some woman, with a mad crush on me, snuck into my garden wheeling a symbol of her love and affection. This is all human invention, nothing magic about it.
If you’ve ever irrigated, you know the dangers of falling asleep while flooding your yard. My garden’s now a pond, and I’m wading my way to the head gate. Splash! I fall into the water and sink into the mud. Crawling forward, I lift my dirty wet body from the water only to slip and submerge myself again. “Boxers are a lot like a swimming suit,” is my deep thought as I give up and just lie there while water flows over my nearly naked body. It feels good in the hot summer night. It feels even better after I take off my wet boxers. I lie in the ditch, relax, forgetting my human drama. The cool water and warm night air wash the panic from my body while I watch the Texas Hummingbird Sage, water lapping at its buds. Slowly, I pull myself from the muddy water.
As I release the floodgate, the water rushes down the ditch to the next garden. In the waning moonlight, I stand naked watching the water slowly seep into the earth. My garden is no longer a pond. It’s some strange hour in the morning just before dawn. It occurs to me that naked is how I should start every day and that plant and animal sex isn’t magic at all. It’s natural, like my naked body. There is nothing supernatural or magical about birds and bees. Flowers, pollination, fruit, seedling, germination, life is a miracle but it ain’t magic. This is the epiphany I face with the rising sun. Spiders, ants, invertebrates get up every day to do their life sustaining work. We should thank them. They possess special life-giving power that cannot be completely understood. We should probably worship them, gods of the real world, the actual, the living. Personally, I envy the worm.
Magic is human conjuring. Bugs don’t cast spells, just people do. Love, for example, is magic. Romance is magic. She’s just a regular girl. I’m just a regular guy. Bam! Moments later she’s all I want, she’s all I care about, and boom, a 30-year marriage: that is magic. So it’s a regular day in the garden. Hummingbirds are dancing from flower to flower occasionally taking a break from pollinating to do-see-do with one another in what looks to be a very flirtatious and sexually active relationship. I’m mulching with straw, covering the beds I recently seeded with fava beans and spread over with horse manure. I’m trying to restore some of the nutrients in the soil. Something black under the plum tree that wasn’t there earlier catches my eye. It’s a black wheelbarrow with white stripes. There’s a red velvet heart stuck to the left handle grip! It’s a gift. I have no clue who it’s from. MAGIC.
That unworldly arena where magic plays its game is in the cerebral. Magic only affects the natural world when the mind inspires action. Who could the wheelbarrow be from? This thought consumes me. First thing that comes to mind are friends who are moving. Kelly could have left it, or Paige and Karl, but those are boring ideas. A secret admirer is more like it. I mean, a bright red velvet heart, somebody loves me! Is it so and so? That’d be cool. She’s hot. Spell cast; spell working. If it was a woman holding romantic notions who left this punk rock wheelbarrow, then I want her like a hummingbird touches tiny red flowers! I love her.
It’s amazing what the mind will make you think (and sometimes do). What if I meet this person and I’m not attracted to her? What if it’s a man? Will I still be in love? Thanks for the wheelbarrow, bro, it’s cute. The possibilities of the mind are nearly limitless. Nature’s possibilities, however, are much more concrete. In the mind, we can continue to consume the natural world and leave behind a pile of ash and a Santa Clause list of extinct lives. If we sanitize, antibacterialize, scrub clean, and Roundup the rest of the living world, there will be no more life.
Humans use magic, universities cast spells, and governments conjure. Birds, beetles, spiders, bees and worms just keep it real. In the city, nature is poisoned, paved, sodded and clothed. We don’t want it in our house and we don’t want it in our food. Ooh, gross, an aphid on my greens! Don’t poison the creatures that make life possible. If you’re going to squash something, make it the state.
Romantic update: Mystery still unsolved. Found a little container of salsa on my back porch, red hot and spicy! Still in love with a mystery magician.
Farmer Marty Camberlango