The Daily Muse

A Garden Journal -- October 2005

Last Update: October 17

A zebra butterfly visiting our garden last year. October  is usually the height of our butterfly season.

October 5 - morning

It is quite early in the morning and it is still dark outside, but I am excited to get out into the garden because we had a couple of showers yesterday including a brief but heavy downpour last night. It had been weeks since our last rain and I am sure the garden will be showing its appreciation. The weather report calls for our first strong cold front of the season to come through tonight - one that will lower our day-time highs from the mid-nineties to the mid-seventies. That is enough to make me feel very hopeful about the coming weeks. And, as we all know, hope is what gardens grow on.

The beginning of all participation in good things is hope.  - Philo, "Abraham"

October 9 - evening

Morning sun streaming into the back corner of our garden.

We are enjoying the last few quiet hours of what has been a beautiful weekend here in Austin. Yesterday, we had friends over to the garden to celebrate the change of seasons and the weather obliged, it  has been cool and dry (by Texas standards.) It feels as if autumn is finally here!

When I designed our garden, I intentionally created spaces for socializing and it is always fun to use it for that purpose. Last night, we had candles lit throughout the garden and a fire blazing away in our chimenea (or clay fire pot.) It really felt magical outdoors. I hope that where ever you are, that you had a chance to spend some time with good friends in the heart of you own 'magical' garden. Cheers!

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.

- Dale Carnegie

Miscanthus aka 'Maiden Grass' in the morning sun.

October 14 - morning

I just returned from my first morning inspection of the garden and I am pleased to report that our recent rains and cooler temperatures have provided a much needed lift for all of the plants. Some have even gone through growth spurts, including our newly planted Savannah Holly. I only have a few minutes to spend enjoying all of this because I have to rush off to work- we are in the final stages of editing my new documentary on the missions of Texas and I am anxious to get into the edit bay. I'll try to update with many new images soon. Until then... namaste, peace.

October 17 - morning

The garden is filled with butterflies right now.

Believe those who seek the truth; doubt those who find it.  - Andre Gide

The Bush administration's dance with the Religious Right is turning into a tarantella... one of those medieval frenzies, a perfect storm of agitation mixed with a good dose of contemporary cynicism. Just a few weeks ago, when defending their nomination of Justice Roberts to the Supreme Court, discussion of his religious beliefs was called an unwarranted invasion of his privacy. Now, after being turned on by his conservative allies for nominating Harriet Miers (who strikes nearly everyone as a very nice but highly unqualified crony) Bush is touting  her religious background in an effort to save the nomination.

I find it interesting that both the President and Ms. Miers are late-converts to evangelical Christianity, which probably explains their close bond. Many of my friends express amazement at the evangelical tide in this country, but, frankly, it does not surprise me. People are seeking shelter in these churches because our culture  is so crass and soul-less. Even more importantly,  people feel  socially isolated and  economically vulnerable, so much so that they happily check their brains at the doors of organizations that offer community and promise certainty. Look at most of the evangelical mega-churches that are growing really quickly and you will see well organized communities that take care of one another in times of crisis. They drive one another to the hospital, have "prayer teams", childcare centers, Twelve Step programs, even dating services. They may offer platitudes along with all of these social services, but at least they are offering something and they genuinely do seem to care for one another. They provide emotional support and stage-crafted emotion to touch people who go through their lives longing to be touched. There is a line in a song by U2 that talks about the nearly universal desperation to "fill that God shaped hole." It seems to me that the faith embraced by our former alcoholic President and his former workaholic Supreme Court nominee is a logical response to God shaped holes on the part of people who do not have the energy or curiosity to seek. Rather, they find, or at least hold onto Biblical literalism and other creeds that strike many of us as nonsense.

Lookin' for to save my, save my soul
Lookin' in the places where no flowers grow
Lookin' for to fill that God shaped hole

- from 'Mofo' by U2

While I believe that the theology of the religious right, like so much of our popular culture, is sterile and dark, a place where no flowers grow; the inward facing communities that form the heart of that movement are fertile and filled with a glaring light. They may shun outsiders, and even organize campaigns against them, but inside the cocoon there is life. People on the religious left (for lack of a better phrase) need to stop sneering at the evangelicals and realize that what is driving the growth of that movement is, at its root, pain and fear. What is needed is an integrated response that celebrates both reason and faith but is not coldly intellectual. My greatest fear is that with the overwhelming vapidity of our culture, fewer and fewer people seem to have the capacity for any sustained search that engages both their hearts and minds.

The song below, by former "Christian Singer" Sam Phillips, has long been a favorite of mine. I think it speaks to the pain, fear, and material distractions that blast God Shaped holes into us all...

Holding onto the Earth

If I close my eyes
I'm afraid I won't wake up
If I stop and listen
I'm afraid I'll hear too much

Trying to hold on to the earth
Holding on for what it's worth

I've got a long black cadillac
marble hot tub in the back
Champagne waterfall
solid gold question mark twenty feet tall

Try to paint a world of shapes
Over the holes as we're falling
The tightened grip is our mistake
As we're trying to hold on to the earth

Looking for his name
wet on brave lips carved on road
Look for flame and mercy
Hope that tired hands can hold

Trying to hold on to the earth
Holding on for what it's worth

-   by Sam Phillips


Meanwhile, back in the kingdom...

Lycoris radiata, aka red spider lily.


This palm was sold under the name Sabal texensis, I thought is was a Sabal texana (a different species) but now I am not so sure. Regardless, it is very happy and nearly doubled in size since I planted it in the early summer.

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