The ants began ascending the peony stems in April. At the top, crowded onto secretive round buds, they feasted on nectar as if the whole year’s sweetness could be gathered there.
When the buds opened, I dearly wished the stems would have the strength to hold the flowers upright. Every year I wish it. But once again the blossoms’ unfolding proved too much, and each one faltered under the weight of its own glory. Flower after flower fell facedown in a profusion of fragrance, weeping diamonds of dew.
The blackberry blossoms have given way to infant fruit. I watched a cedar waxwing perch on the vine and plan its gluttonous return at summer’s end. We will stain our fingers purple while the pickings are sweet, not forgetting to leave a few to ferment for our little backyard drunkard.
This spring my children have learned to slip the single sweet drop from the honeysuckle flower and slurp it up before it drips. I asked them if they could smell how the air is heavy with the scent. They sniffed until they could. I wanted them to remember it. My son drank honey drops until his stomach hurt.
Orioles have nested in the corner maple. If they had been watching the robins, they might have built a sturdy bowl-shaped home at a stable junction of branches. But defying reason, they wove a hanging nest — gourd-shaped and dangling in a cluster of leaves at the limb’s fingertips. It bobbed and swayed in the wind like a coin purse in the clutches of a careless child. I tried to follow its motion with the telescope but only got dizzy. A flash of orange somehow alighted on the careening pouch and dropped itself inside.
Two robins fussed over their fledgling by the roadside. Fluttering flightless wings, the youngster clamored for its dinner. The mother eyed her baby, appearing to anticipate its next demand. The father popped a bug in its mouth.
There is a rightness in the world untouched by our division and strife and forgetful arrogance. There is a vast freedom beyond the reach of our self-conscious systems and corroding human constructs.
There are things that have known all the ages of the world, and they will remember its fabric when everything we have built comes unraveled.
For the robin will choose its mate and feed its speckled young.
The oriole will build its nest the hard way.
Children will drink in honey-soaked air and slurp single sugar drops.
The waxwing will have its fill of wine.
And the peonies, undone by beauty they cannot bear, will bow their heads and weep.