Acceptance in the Dog, er…Fox Days of Summer

Swamp milkweed in full bloom

Hi readers! It is August, and it is HOT, HOT, HOT! Our weather gauge registered 97 degrees, with a heat index of 111 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday afternoon in the shade! The yarden, like all of us, is showing signs of heat and drought stress. While the JoePye weed, sneezeweed, milkweed, and ironweed are all at their blooming peak (funny that all the bloomers right now are named “weeds”!), as a whole the gardens are yellowing, drying up, withering to some degree. Everything just looks and feels dry and tired. Such are the hot, dog days of summer.

Eastern tiger swallowtail on Joe Pye weed

One bright and lively event is the continued nightly visits by our resident gray fox. Mr. EndlessSeeker did some work on the trail down toward the creek, which seemed to alter the fox’s pattern for a few days, so I moved the trail camera up to the front yard next to the woods. I was really hoping to capture a shot of the huge buck we saw in our neighbor’s front yard a few days ago…

Big whitetail deer buck in our neighbor’s yard

…but instead was delighted to see our resident fox again. Even though the camera has an infrared light, you can see in the video below that the fox is definitely freaked out by the sight and probably sound of the clicking of the camera, but what a beautiful side view shot of him/her!

Each morning as I look out at our gardens, I feel a deeper kinship with the plants. Partly because they continue to teach me many life lessons, but also because I, too, feel a little weathered and worn, dried up and slow to move these days. It’s not just the summer doldrums, heat, and humidity, but feeling and knowing that my body is changing, aging, aching. Even so, in this autumn of my life, I am grateful to still be able to move and be active, to work and walk in the gardens, to see the caterpillars appear and become butterflies – even if it hurts more.

Caterpillar on the catnip, looking for a place to form a chrysalis and metamorphose

Growing older and aging physically is another opportunity to learn to accept things as they are, and let go of expectations of the future. I’ve been exploring these ideas for several years now, and have been diving in pretty deeply lately. It’s a powerful notion – and a more powerful experience when you have it – to truly let go of past and future, of good and bad, of expectations and outcomes. When I can, if even for a brief moment or two, I feel very peaceful inside myself. I feel the power and peace and relief of being here now. Because when I am truly present, I don’t ache or age or worry. I just am. And that is a gift beyond comprehension of the mind.

So, even when it is hot and dry and the gardens are withering and my body is aching, I can know peace by accepting what is, by focusing on that beautiful flower bud, a caterpillar’s stripes, a butterfly laying eggs, a bee buzzing by, and not think about what will be in the next minute or day or week or year. In these dog (er, fox) days of summer, I just close my eyes, breathe deeply, open up to the silence, and am here now – being instead of doing, accepting instead of fretting, letting go instead of clinging to past or future.

Peace, friends.

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