Essence of summer and why I’ve been missing

Rudbeckia reaching for the sun.

Gold and yellow and orange, so brilliant the colours burn the eyes — these images fill my computer screen. I watch, photo by photo, as a rudbeckia opens its petals, tentative and sensitive at first, reaching into the sunlight gently, probingly, every hair alert and glistening in the light, then, dancing as it realizes the wonder of the place, and finally, stretching its petals fully to the sun giving itself and its short life in abandon and without compromise to the exquisite beauty of this world.

This is my summer, condensed into tiny intense images through the lens of my camera and then magically reconstructed, larger than life, on my screen. And yet, as glowingly beautiful as these images seem today when all around is dull, gray sky and cold, cold winds, they don’t rival the real thing. I know this because when I take these photos and then review them in summer they never seem good enough. The camera can never capture the soft air and warm sun and lovely fragrance that surrounds us in the garden.

Discovering the sun.

Worshipping the sun.


Just looking at the photos, though, soothes me in this frantic time.

And because it has been frantic is why I haven’t been here. This has been a very packed period of activity.On the good side, Glenn is much better so I whisked him off to Toronto to spend a week with our granddaughters Julia and Claire while Shauna and David trekked off to Washington. It would be, I thought, therapeutic albeit not physically comfortable. But they all have such wonderful personalities that just being with them is balm for the soul.

This happened just two weeks after coming home from the London, Ontario conference for Tree Canada, where I did such a wickedly poor job of filming the Carolinian forest for you.  There was barely time to catch my breath in between, because, although I didn’t tell you this before, we were frantically looking for a place to move our offices. After 13 years in the same location, on September 6, we were given two months to the day, to vacate the premises, The new owner wanted to demolish the building so he could expand his next door business. I won’t tell you all the turmoil we went through upon learning this, but I will say that it carried on right until almost the day we moved; it was a stressful time.Meanwhile, while Glenn was in Toronto, I went to Ottawa. Shall I tell you what happened there? The Cole’s Notes story is that Day One was a meeting of the editorial board for Beyond the Hill, the magazine I produce for the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians, followed by briefing for the Arts Summit Day on the Hill. Day Two was a parade of meetings with various political types, among them the leader of the Opposition and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, followed by a reception in the Speaker’s rooms. Day Three was lunch with my executive director of Tree Canada at the parliamentary restaurant, then a visit to our new Tree Canada offices, followed by a submission to the Committee on the Environment about trees (of course) and then the annual fundraising dinner for the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians to listen to the Commissioner of the CFL, this being the 100thAnniversary of the Grey Cup. I must say that he is adorable and a very good speaker.

There are many sidebars to those three days, but you get the picture. On Thursday morning, I caught the early flight to Toronto to meet up with Glenn and the kids and dinner at Il Fornello. They live just off the Danforth, after all. There were more meetings:  in Ajax to talk to my distributor, dinner with my friend Veronica Sliva and her husband in their lovely Scarborough house. I took Claire to the dinner and Veronica and Walter showed us the bones of their garden. I can see that it must be lovely in summer. Saturday was dance class for Claire and coffee at Starbucks with Julia and, finally, I made a home cooked dinner. Sunday, Shauna and David came back from Washington and we all went off to dinner at Dynasty where we had our favourite dim sum, a tradition when I go to Toronto.This is how my life goes at certain times: frantic activity with no breathing space in between. Does it help to explain why I so love the garden? It is my refuge, my place of absolute sanity where I can get away from the insane world I live in most days.

When I came home the following Monday, it was the last week before the move and we still hadn’t firmed up our new location – there were many complications. But on Thursday of that week, we reached agreement and were able to get the key to our new kingdom. The staff, who had been packing all this time, threw themselves into the task and we spent the entire weekend on the move because even with movers, there is much to do yourself. I can never say enough to thank my tireless helpers, but I hope they know I appreciate and love them dearly.

By Monday at noon, we were fully settled into the new quarters, which are really quite lovely. And, as Lloyd Robertson used to say, ‘that’s the kind of (month) it was”. So I hope you will forgive my absence from these pages.

Clear blue tinged with violet.

Now, I turn back to the photo files from summer. I see a borage flower, perched like a tiny bird, on its slender stem. And there is the Philadelphus, smothered in sweet smelling mock-orange flowers and the clear blue delphinium, its petals tinged with violet. And there is the yellow foxglove, the only perennial foxglove in this part of the world, its mottled yellow throat inviting passing bees . . .summer is suddenly with me again and all my cares melt away in the garden.


4 thoughts on “Essence of summer and why I’ve been missing

  1. It’s always amazing how a garden can do that.. or the sight of one little flower:) Welcome back!

  2. Granny says:

    Wow. I can see how returning to the flowers on the screen would provide a moment to breathe, a sort of state of hypnosis even, to empty the mind. Maybe the aromas from the garden are not necessary; the memory of them does the trick and, maybe, keeps you busy enough imagining what you think is missing so that your mind can finally relax, truly relax.

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