So much comes so thick and fast sometimes, like this June when the 17-year cicadas hatched at the same time as the unleashing of thousands of hackberry butterflies. Walking from the car to the house, I have to close my mouth so a butterfly doesn’t zip in and avoid stepping on some of the dead cicadas, strangely enough, fed on by the butterflies. Meantime, the rain: a deluge so often that we’ve lost track of inches. Garden beds I weeded two weeks ago are buried in invader species, mosquitoes abound, and the rolling roar of the cicadas engulfs everything in the rising buzz.
Sometimes life is so outrageously abundant it’s hard to know what to do to keep some semblance of order or peace of mind. I clean the pantry, weeding out stale nuts and moth-invaded pancake mix. I bend over on the way to the car to pull weeds out of a small triangle of dirt where, a month ago I planted flowers now buried in green. I haul away stuff we don’t need anymore, only to return home to see so much growing and piling up inside and out while I bat away butterflies, walk through rain, and breathe in time with the cicadas.
Abundance shows itself in magic and delight too. This weekend, I went with friends to see Lily Tomlin live in Kansas City, all of us immersed in the rich dazzlement of her characters, the poignancy and humor of their stories, and her improvised jokes. I sang “Both Sides Now” and “You Are My Sunshine” with friends in an open-air out-building deep in the country with stand-up bass, guitar, accordion, hammer dulcimer, and of course, cicada accompaniment. I sat on this screened-in porch during a thunderstorm and listened to Pema Chodron, via my computer, talk about shenpa, what hooks us for the good and for the bad, and how we might try reacting differently next time to see what happens. I bought paddles for the kayaks we’re buying from friends and will bring home once and if it stops raining long enough. My work is rich, friendships full of humor and joy, and talks with Ken still surprising after all these years. Fawns walk close by, rabbits criss-cross each other’s paths, and everywhere, there’s birds singing happily of humidity and worms.
When there’s so much, there’s also so much opportunity for strange things to happen, some hooking us into joy (like seeing four foxes by the side of the road last night), and some hooking us into angst (like our water mysteriously stopping working this morning). Everyone I talk with has stories of strangeness to share, and through it all, cicadas, hackberry butterflies, and rain, reminding us to pay attention in a time when all comes at once.