Green leaves and growing things surround the little house, cascade across LaRhune, soft leaves filling in the oaks, eagle ferns covering the bare bones of the mountain. So much to love in summertime, life bursts out of every crevice. I try to be impartial, but I have my favorites.
Many admire the vast and elegant gardens of writer Edmond Rostand, preserved in the Villa Arnaga in Cambo-les-Bains, not far from here. And the magnificent hanging baskets in Saint Jean de Luz, the public gardens in San Sebastian overflowing with glorious color. But I give my heart to the wounded, the unlikely, the persistent, the survivors.
But not only the cherries. I also love the pine trees that shot up from where I dumped the pine-cone wreaths we made for the holidays; the little oak I uncovered when I cut back a thicket of blackberry vines, bent to the ground, never to rise again they told me, yet today straight and strong and taller than the house. I rejoice in the forsythia trunk someone gave me for a tomato stake, that, once pounded into the ground, grew roots and leaves and flowers; the chestnut tree growing from a nut that must have slipped into the middle of the dry stone wall; the 200-year-old oak tree above the house, its trunk rotted so much I can crawl inside but it branches as full of leaves this year as ever; the tadpoles born in a temporary pond made when rainwater filled my tire treads, they needed rescue as the water evaporated; the squirrel missing an eye that eats from my bird-feeder in the rain, her tail looped up to shelter her head like an umbrella.
These are hard days on mother earth. Yes, the chestnut tree will one day bring down my wall, the oak may fall and take out the hillside, the squirrel will never make it though the winter. But does it matter? They have seized the day, they sing in the sunshine. Hurt, unwanted, untended, forgotten, they have grown in splendor and I love them best. Survivors. We are all survivors.