The things that make us smile, or feel joy are not moments we pass over anymore. We absorb them into our bones and try to hold on to the light.

This year we did not plant vegetables or add new plants to the garden. Instead, I spread seed in the garden beds and now they are overflowing with rudbeckia, sunflowers, and cosmos along with a few other flowers I am unfamiliar with, surprises. Soon they will be gone, making room for my studio and a reworked back yard. Still, the emptiness of these gardens feels like words left unsaid, a sentence dangling unfinished, a sad reflection of the last six months.

The gardens should be tangled and overgrown with basil, tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers. We should be saying to one another, “what in the world will we do with all these peppers?” as we organize our shopping list around them, deciding to make salsa and stir fry.

Next year, we say.

We went on a motorcycle ride last night and the sky opened up. To the west I saw countless lightning strikes. The cloud above was flat bottomed and seemed to have dimples. To the north the sky was light, to the east, another storm system. The rain clouds were all around us, their thin fingers giving their moisture away. We did not turn around, but kept going, the motorcycle beneath us rumbling on its journey.

The air here in Colorado has been dry and hot and filled with smoke. When we left the house in the early evening, the Air Quality Index was 204 which is considered severely unhealthy, but ironically, the smell of smoke was low. A ‘good’ ACI is around 50 and takes into consideration the levels of pollution, heat, carbon monoxide and other pollutants. Sometimes, when I smell the smoke most, the air quality index is low, and I am confused because that is when my nose and throat burn, and my eyes become itchy.

We try to create a normal life in the midst of all this. Hikes, bike rides, a motorcycle ride. We are seeking peace, hope.

The rain felt good, though we stopped to put on our leather jackets and the seat of my jeans became soaked. Then, almost as soon as we put our jackets on, the rain stopped and we were hot. We stopped again and took them off.

Drizzle and wind, the trees bent so far over to the south. Still we rode.

The flowers in my garden, sunflowers, giant and invasive, drooping across our walkway, but nourishing small birds, squirrels, bees and butterflies so I dare not cut them. Soon, but not today.

The things that make us smile, or feel joy are not moments we pass over anymore. We absorb them into our bones and try to hold on to the light.

Still, the vegetable beds lie fallow. Dry, empty, longing to be of use.

Out my window, the day after our motorcycle ride, the rain fell gently, the smell, lovely petrichor, what a perfect word I say to Rob over and over; that too brings a smile to my face. I pretend I can see the lavender, sedum and sage reach out their roots in glee, and though fall is imminent, thinking, one more day. One more week, and then who knows?

I have good days and I have bad days.

The good days feel like the air has cleared after a hot and humid day. There is a sharpness to everything, and moments feel real.

It rained again yesterday while I was getting my toes painted blue. I wanted to tell the women massaging my calves to stop for a moment, so I could stand outside and let the tears from the sky soak my skin.

The world feels like it is burning down. Nature’s shower brings cleansing, clarity and peace.

Something unusual these days.

Halfway through our ride on the motorcycle, we stopped and stretched our legs looking out over Carter Lake. Rob called and made us a reservation at a local restaurant with a lovely patio. As we headed back, the wind tossed us and once again it began to rain, but the squall was short. Instead of being annoyed with the rain as I might have a year ago, I felt invigorated.

In a few weeks, my studio will be built in our backyard, between the house and the shed. The studio will look out over the new garden which will eventually become lush and full of perennial blooms, a pollinator garden, new trees. There will be garden beds built of stone, and we are already talking about the vegetables we will plant. Basil, cucumbers, lettuces, pumpkins, and carrots. Maybe we’ll try some corn, we say.

The new garden will grow on seeds, rain and hope.