No philosophy this month. No deep delving into the writer’s psyche. This column is about summer, about fireflies and crickets, wildflowers and mist rising above the pond, about  reading on the porch and wading in the water. This time, I’m writing about all the grace shadowing our lives, if only we dare to reach for it.

As July transitions into August, the garden offers beans and tomatoes in heaps and handfuls, while the carrots drill their way into fullness. The marigolds planted at the edges press against the sides of the raised beds, warning off the insects that come to feed on the leaves. Sometimes I swear they’d take to flight if they could. But nothing daunts the bunnies. I find their marks in the bottom half of the bloody butchers (an heirloom brand with a sweet taste and a thin skin), their rasps of canines against the eggplant rind. Along the back of the lawn, the wildflower garden shifts from coneflowers to Queen Anne’s lace. Prairie sunflowers wheel, ironweed flashes, and in the field, swaths of brown-eyed Susans wave as I slip between the grasses, my dew-wet boots barely rustling as I pass. The landscape is a cathedral. If I can’t find God residing in these vistas, I won’t find Him anywhere.

Some afternoons, rain lashes the siding, a jazz medley of percussion and drums. The Canadian barrel fills, ready for use on the impatiens, geraniums and petunias climbing out of the pots. Hummingbirds flit around the feeder, zooming in for sips as they protect their approach with chittering and stealth attacks.

Caught up in chores and worries, it is easy to ignore the simple beauty around us, the generous offerings of grace. These days, I remind myself frequently to pay attention, to open my arms and my heart and just breathe.

Writing insulates, cocooning the writer in the story being created. Stepping out of the fictional into the real involves disconnecting from the word, reconnecting with the world. And what a rich world it is, this august August.  The natural gifts of earth and sky offer all the blessings of this season.  I hold them out to you to taste and touch.

May these ‘dog days’ bring a special grace to your journey.