In the midst of a labyrinth of plain grey walls sits a center for swirling, unimaginable, imagined magic. Few would guess the location. Utter ordinariness projects from all fronts, save perhaps, from the back. A small, very perfect garden sits behind this rather stocky old building. The architect of the garden, I think, put in a lot more thought than the one who designed the plain rectangle of brick in front of it.
Rocks, varying in color from ordinary flat grey to blue, and then the odd pinkish ones, make the short stonewall. The wall serves to terrace ground, so the visitors strolls in at one level, between the elbow-high black-eyed Susans leaning into the path, and the rounded bunches of hostas, all carefully set in two shades of green. At this upper level, one rectangular strip of lawn is trimmed to such precision it could correct a ruler. The sticky-sweet smelling crab apple tree, trimmed with a bonsai in mind, shades the one corner. Two industrious bumblebees buzz around the sturdy trunk, while one tiny butterfly swoops elegantly closer to the roots.
Turn and step down the three granite stares, bordered by the waving pinks and reds of the cosmos flowers. The squarely trimmed forsythia is a border of solid yellow for a spare few weeks each year, then plain green, if utterly impenetrable. Tiny eyes peer out at the visitor from under every leaf and twig. Here, utterly dignified and oblivious to scrutiny is a stern of Praying Mantis. There, three ladybugs glare at our interruption. One enormous, fuzzy caterpillar slowly undulates in our wake.
Their tiny voices pause, as they study us more closely. If we sit quiet – take out our lunch and take no notice – all at once, their meeting resumes. We can slip undetected in to observe this secretive realm. The flowers bend toward their speaker, the lady bugs sit up attentively. The bees carry on with their own business, casting looks over their yellow-and-black, all halfhearted, once in a while.
Back through labyrinth, into the intensity of ordinariness that marks my space, we take up the place of a conjurer. With fingers never quite fast enough, the story in the back garden is woven together. The writing must capture this exciting world of colors and smells and activity. The creaking and squeaking must be shared, and the boundless energy of this small, well-tended world sent out to all of those trapped in small, square worlds of grey.
Somewhere, in a similar cabinet, sits another conjurer, Weaving together the life of the golden monkey that swings past every dawn, while on a quiet shore the voice of gulls is captured by yet another. Writing captures often unseen lives… and shares.