Got up and began gardening as the sun was breaking over the mountains, transplanted my seedlings and watered everything so that the plants have a fighting chance before temperatures begin to soar at mid-morning. No idea why I have grown so much opal basil and coriander but growing from seed is irresistible. Making sure the trays and pots don’t dry out as the heat intensifies means I keep an inflexible routine of daily watering but right now that is one of the pleasures of gardening, to watch the healthy seedlings popping up by the dozen, tiny pointy leaves unfurling and whippy green stems strengthening into suction pumps. Later on this season I will make rolls of herb butters to freeze, that spicy clove taste of summer basil in tomato soups or minestrone very welcome in winter.
For all of us who had a misspent youth and tried dropping tabs of mindblowing LSD without having any idea what might happen to our brains, a review of the neurologist aiuthor Oliver Sacks memoir:
He now says that, among other things, his use of LSD may have helped develop in him the empathy that vividly animates his best case histories. But he certainly wouldn’t recommend taking it. “Oh, no,” he tells me urgently, as if I might have some in my pocket, ready to swallow on his endorsement. “I certainly don’t recommend. I did a lot of things very foolishly – I think there was something destructive in me, and I often took high, and risky, doses.”
In retrospect, Sacks concedes, he may have become an addict. “I certainly had a compulsion – a dangerous compulsion with amphetamines, and a sort of insatiability,” he tells me. “And if that defines an addiction, then I had it.”
What is the point of getting older if we don’t get wiser? Yet another brilliant collection of short stories entitled Dear Life has come out from Canadian writer Alice Munro, whose work I have now read for at least 27 years, waiting impatiently for the library to order her latest book, finding new stories in the New Yorker, reading and rereading her for those perceptive insights into human relationships, how we live through memory, what happens to untold secrets, what cannot be forgotten, what will not give up its mystery. Now Alice Munro is 81 years old and in frail health, but still writing, still questioning and probing. Dear Life, I’m writing to tell you what I have to say. And Munro has herself said of these stories, “I believe they are the first and last—and the closest—things I have to say about my own life.”