Between the Lines

The War of Wars

I have lost the battle with my garden, the only war I care about these days.  The Drought (yes, I mean to capitalize it, to personify it as if it were an angry god) has scorched the yard, and there is no such thing as victory in the face of such an enemy—only the hope of a standoff.  Much territory has had to be abandoned: I have retreated from the southeast orchard, where only the apple tree stands triumphantly among what was once a field of “drought-resistant” wildflowers.  Indeed, that old tree is so heavy with fruit that its limbs fall straight to the ground, yet this is no victory of mine: Those gnarled roots were sunk deep in the earth long before I took possession of this property—or, rather, this property took possession of me.

Sitting in the shade of the redwood grove, I watch the wasps chase the little reddish-brown butterflies—or are they moths?—while a dragonfly perched atop the highest branch of a pear tree looks on with equanimity, serenely sunning itself and making the most of its principled noninterventionism.  Hummingbirds compete with outsized bumblebees for the savory sap of the salvia—a giant bush of the bicolored red-and-white variety with plenty of room for all.  Yet still they jostle and fight for preeminence, buzzing insults carried on the wind.

Here is the perfect setting to review the morning’s headlines: As vultures circle...

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