Friday, May 24, 2013

Magic Deeper Still


Come close. Let me tell you a secret. I do magic.

In my hand I hold charcoal colored seeds, no bigger than mouse droppings. A friend collected them when they fell from his morning glories and has now shared them with countless others. The back of my neighbor’s garage, which butts up to my driveway, will be their playground once I erect a chicken wire trellis for them to climb. Imagine a whole wall of violet blue flowers unfurling with early morning sun then raveling closed at night. They promise to draw bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, guests I am eager to host. Morning glory flowers are edible. The seeds serve as a laxative and can be used as a hallucinogenic. The leaves heal insect bites and stings. Dry those leaves to make tea in winter and the liquid relieves frostbite and chilblains.

All this magic from nascent seeds.

They will go in an area of ground being readied especially for them. My retired neighbor has been helping in the preparations. With the attentive precision of a scientist-midwife, she monitors the compost pile; adds layers of leaves and grass clipping from her yard, dutifully spreads grounds from a coffee shop. Many others help. Worms, mice, creeping crawlies and whatever else turn our apple cores, eggshells, onion skins and so on into dirt. Into this dark richness I’ve mixed chicken poop from the community garden center. In a world where we categorize smell as good or bad based on appeal or lack thereof, I pause and inhale happily.

More magic.

It is the scent of time and place consecrated; redeeming what was discarded as foul, worthless refuse into new life. It is fragrant hope borne out of a communion of living things bent on shared purpose. Together we make soil so plants can thrive.

This alchemy of seed and soil is magic deeper still, "when death itself starts working backward."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

the greatest trick of all


Come close. Let me tell you a secret. I do magic.

Although I live miles away from any river, I can make water flow at my will. Hot or cold. I can also make a room warm without burning anything in it.

Even though I haven’t had my body sawn in half, I perform other death defying feats. I hurl my body through space faster than my legs can naturally pump or on two wheels. I slather unknown chemicals on my body on a regular basis; I even ingest a mixed grill of unpronounceable ingredients when I eat packaged food. I squirt products labeled toxic on my lawn and all over my house. I come through all of this unscathed.

My favorite trick?

Whatever I don’t want, I make vanish through a secret portal. I suspect you have access to it as well, the magical land of away. In fact the average American puts 5 lbs of stuff there daily. Things appear when I want, disappear when I don’t. 

The land of away reminds me of the child development stage, object permanence. In this developmental magic show, if you hide an object a baby was just playing with, the baby will believe it has disappeared. It’s a milestone when babies understand if something’s out of sight, it still exists and they will seek it.

They figure this out before the age of two.

I must confess. Unlike magic kits that come with instructions, I don’t know how these tricks actually work. I merely impose supernatural power over natural forces, the definition of magic. 

Maybe that is the greatest trick of all. I am master of so much I know so little about and can't be bothered to understand.

But thank goodness I can do all this magic. 

It keeps me young.