A memory of yesterday’s pleasures, a fear of tomorrow’s dangers. Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I neglect God and his angels for the noise of a fly … a memory of yesterday’s pleasures, a fear of tomorrow’s dangers, a straw under my knee, a noise in mine ear, a light in mine eye, an any thing, a nothing, a fancy, a chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayer.

I came across this quote from John Donne in a racy article by Katherine Rundell called “Night Climbing.” It seems so contemporary in its detailing of the quotidian distractions that deflect one from concentration. Although I do not grieve for neglecting God the experience resonates, is something I experience everyday when meditating. And many people, during this ghastly pandemic, are experiencing difficulty in concentrating – on anything at all. 

Surprising things are blooming, like this delphinium, just beginning to unfurl

I planted it in the fall and it bloomed eventually in a rather half-hearted manner and when it faded I cut it to the ground. I know this about delphiniums here, they like a long growing season through the fall and winter when they slowly put down strong roots and the roots send sustenance above ground, nurturing the flower which eventually blooms in the spring or early summer on a strong tall stalk. I’m fascinated by the way flowers start to appear at the base and each day a few more unfurl.

This is not the bluest of blue, its shading is delicate, its powder blue softness melting into lilac

it’s a little overwhelmed by the vegetables and fig tree and African Blue Basil bush that grow adjacent to it (there it is hiding on the extreme right)

Some delphiniums are a much deeper blue. When I was writing The Smoking Book, back in Harare at the time, I was struggling with the description of a certain character, and suddenly it came to me – from out of nowhere – that his eyes were “delphinium blue.” It was a fabulous moment, everything clicked into place, the story began to write itself, to unfurl. I can still recall that moment of elation and surprise. Where did the delphinium come from? Was it an angel who sent it from a secret land where magical words grow, like fruit, on trees and can be plucked merely by the force of desire or frustration? Or perhaps it just slithered out of the chains that tethered it to all redundant sentences in the great big Writer’s Block in the sky. Or perhaps it came—travelling as straight and as fast as an arrow—from the past, from the garden of colors I knew as a child.

So while it’s not really the best flower to grow in among the veg I can’t resist it, I love watching and waiting for it to bloom, watching the blooms creep up the stem, anticipating the joy of experiencing again that ineffable CLICK.

2 thoughts on “A memory of yesterday’s pleasures, a fear of tomorrow’s dangers. Wednesday, April 29, 2020

  1. I didn’t see this one before. Have to confess I did not know what a Delphinium was until I was told when I took its pic in Golden Gate Park to send to you. To me it was pretty blue thing. Glad some people know gardening – it missed me.

  2. I love the Donne quote – he is till one of favorite poets from way back in school when we were kids.

    I had a poem in Africa—
    It was by John Donne.
    If he but knew
    He’d say: I won
    (or if he was around now: Score!)

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