the secret to everything

by s.

garden time.

I spent the better part of today in the mid-fifties drizzle of grey Brooklyn, tromping through the Botanical Gardens in one of the most miserable sorts of weather that nature has to offer man. It is the best kind of weather, though, for bringing out the eerie green of plant-like things, and I poked my way dutifully through bluebells and rosebushes and ivy as my aunt and her best friend discussed each one in garden-appropriate terminology.

I live ten minutes away from the gardens, but I rarely go there. Something about it makes me wild inside in a way that I can’t really explain. I grew up in the woods in a world without sunscreen, where it was my job to turn brown every summer and wait for the bottoms of my feet to thicken enough to run barefoot across gravel pathways. Trees were for climbing to the very top and peeking out; flowers were for making chains or bouquets or beds for imaginary fairy creatures of the forest. I swam and I fished and I cleaned and gutted my catches with my bare hands, presuming that when I grew up to become someone who lived on an island and swam with dolphins, all of my outdoor training would be put to good use.

The adult I came to be is a huge disappointment in that regard, but I have never become someone who is comfortable with just looking at nature. I imagine that when I someday die of the mysteries that rattle inside my rib cage, they will do an autopsy and find an old gnarled branch curled around my heart. It will explain so many things.

This afternoon after the damp, bone-chilled version of me returned home, I turned to warmth in order to quiet the wilder things thumping inside of my chest. Over the years, I have tested many approaches to the volatile subtlety of Sunday afternoons. Today, I finally mastered the recipe. As it turns out, the secret to everything is a cup of hot tea lovingly dashed with very good bourbon, a copy of the latest New Yorker, and the music of Kurt Vile, artfully balanced in such a way as to make all of these attempts at civilization finally feel worth it.