Woke up at 3am shaking with fever and wondered if I have malaria on top on the bronchitis. Recurring malaria is one of the banes of my life out here. Got up and wandered around the house searching for a thermometer. Remembered eventually that I stood on and crushed the thermometer in a vague drunken mishap years ago. Had a cold bath and threw up, then went back to bed. Lay awake under sweat-soaked sheets thinking about failure and lost opportunities and various stressful factors multiplied by a worry factor of 300 000 electrifying megabytes. The dogs began barking at the full moon in Virgo and I took them out into the garden where they dug up up a small plumbago bush. Then the sun began to come up and I fell asleep again.
Woke up feeling much better. Resumed fruitless correspondence with Yahoo customer care. Coffee still tastes like something excreted by a lonely ocelot. Bathed both dogs, which was World War III in slow motion. Lovely fluffy puppies who now want to go out and roll in the dust under rosemary bushes and pick up sand fleas.
For lunch I am making some grilled lemony chicken with a big dish of steamed squash dusted with finely grated Parmesan and crisp-fried sage leaves and a little butter. I would put up a recipe for this delectable squash dish, the ultimate autumn taste, but I have no idea of quantities. The Huibbard squash is the size of a small Volkswagen beetle in Day-glo orange.
When I was falling sick I was rude to my friend Char who can be annoying at times. Now she is snippy and hurt and keeps bringing me gifts from her garden — rocket, ripe plum tomatoes, plums, sweet poataoes — to show me how nobly she can behave after receiving a deathly insult. I apologised at once after snapping at her, and am reluctant to keep apologising. I might go out and pick her some Swiss chard and coriander and bay leaves. Somewhere Freud writes about the latent hostility concealed in the exchange of gifts. Maybe I should just apologise again, loudly and at length. In my next life I am coming back as a strong silent man who runs away and hides behind the garden shed at the merest hint of conflict.
Autumn is nearly here. And life is wonderful. I keep recalling that visionary American farmer and poet and caring, truth-telling citizen, Wendell Berry:
When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be — I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.