On this day in 2009, Namir watches for critters while Cookie supervises my harvest, or perhaps she’s planning on a sip of my coffee, in the controlled chaos of my garden in springtime. Cookie’s determined expression as she walks toward me means she had been away for “a while” and it might have been too long, the human may have been distracted by the task at hand and Cookie needed to set things to right. I adore Namir’s alert expression as he watches likely a little rodent he’d like to kill, yet he stays loyal and by my side. If you look closely at the side of his neck you can see a square shaved patch. He’d been in the emergency hospital a few weeks before for congestive heart failure, and in truth he had a little less than two months with us. But we didn’t know that, and thoroughly enjoyed the moment.
First thing in the morning is the best time to harvest salad greens, especially if they are the first of the year, so I took my coffee with me and my garden cats supervised the entire operation. I managed to get a precious clear and candid shot of the two of them before they realized I was photographing them from my position of leaning over the greens and picking with one hand while I brought up the camera and took the shot with the other. Don’t worry about all the stuff in the background—once the garden was in and producing and the sun was high and hot, the three of us started on the hoses and buckets and carefully organized things in the shade under the deck.
As we have Shakespeare to thank for so many wise and perceptive phrases still used today, the phrase “salad days” has little to do with a mix of greens with dressing, yet it does have to do with themes of youth and “greenness” as well as an application to the photo above. The phrase first appeared in 1606 in Antony and Cleopatra as Cleopatra compared her current passion for Marc Antony to her former love for Julius Caesar, declaring her earlier dalliance to be the indiscretion of youthful naïeveté as in her “salad days” she was “green in judgement”. Through the years the salad shifted from the fleeting inexperience, innocence or foolishness of youth to a later time of life when a person, group, organization or concept is or was (usually the latter) at the peak of ability or popularity, as in “the good old days”.
So above we have a cavalcade of meanings, literally collecting the short-lived salad greens at the peak of their youth, and I also remember both the fleeting moments of joy with these two in the peace of my garden as well as “the good old days” when Namir and Cookie were both still with me. So much in one picture, and a place to start and let my mind wander, coming back to this moment.
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