August, A Place

Nature’s been generous this month. We had a great view of the Perseids, Skyline sunsets have been even more spectacular than usual, and the little garden that could is chugging along at full steam.

Six weeks ago, I hacked up the ridiculous swath of jungle where last year’s garden had gone wild. There were concrete piers in there. There were hunks of scrap metal and stone pavers. Hearty grass and thistles with roots like elephant trunks had sunk themselves into clay. I pickaxed and shoveled and swore. My back ached. On July 3, I conquered that (itsy-bitsy) patch:

And now...!

Everything and its mother is trying to grow in there. There are seven volunteer tomato plants, and the number one "weed" is kale. Basil is going crazy, making for a constant supply of fresh pesto in my kitchen. So I'm a little impressed with myself at the results. Maybe it’s the fact that I did it all myself, or that I’ve stuck with my commitment to daily weeding (an activity I've found semi-addictive, capable of producing a flow state), but the veggies taste especially good this year.

Along with visits to my favorite badminton and karaoke haunts, tending the garden has proven an antidote to the cloudy-headedness produced by novel writing, which is how I’m spending a lot of my time these days. Progress comes in fits and starts. I recently had a chance to borrow a garage floor and literally lay out the book. It was helpful to get a visual on how much space scenes were physically taking--a different way to measure pacing. (“They enter the hospital up here and they don’t leave for six feet? I could probably accomplish the same thing in three feet, considering the temple scene only lasted a half-row, and look how much plot movement there is!")

Heading south to the Boardwalk is another worthy summer diversion, though lately it's been a bit hazy down there. Thanks to friendly winds, Crazy Pete's didn't get much smoke from the Lockheed fire, which is still smoldering about twenty miles away. It did make for an eerie sky down in Santa Cruz, though, and my car’s still got a fine speckling of ash on it.

Just up the coast, a more peaceful view:

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