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July 29, 2008
The bed in the guest room is spread with Q's turtlenecks, my nightgowns, our washcloths, all awaiting their deployment among several suitcases. The cats spent the morning on a farewell visit to the vet, leaving us significantly poorer than we were when we took them. Q has a year's supply of most of his medicines, which is more than can be said for yours truly. I must tend to this, and I now have only a week in which to do so.

The garden suspects nothing. A zucchini as long as my forearm was apprehended hiding behind its own foliage; half of it became a dozen muffins and a coffee ring, and the rest awaits a date with dinner destiny this very evening. Bumblebees and honeybees share the buddleia with a half dozen varieties of butterfly. Finally, a hummingbird showed up among the monarda, and I watched her come and go for the better part of an hour the other day. It turned out to be Ethel Merman's daughter. She told me that Ethel is indeed dead, as I had surmised, but that she had left her directions to our garden and that she, Giulietta Massina, is mighty glad to be here.

I sat on the bench and watched it all. I saw some weeds I should pull, but mostly I just watched the garden go about the business of living. This was a farewell vigil; I will not see its remaining seasons until this one we are in comes around again. I saw in my mind what each plant will become after we have left, how the petals of the flowers will fall and the leaves will turn. I saw how the green rose hips will redden and the redbud pods will drop, seeding hundreds of new redbuds for next year. This beautiful tree, which covers its branches completely with pink blossoms in late spring, which we cosseted so when it was new in our lives, is now as common as a weed in this garden. Its perfect heart-shaped leaves will turn a golden yellow, and then they will fall. The dogwood's leaves will turn a fiery red and then they< will fall. Each species takes its turn, but they all fall.

Then the ground will be carpeted in gold and red, for a few days --until the separated leaves darken and grown, lose their moisture and crackle underfoot. Not my foot -- I will not be here. Only the postman's, delivering mail I will not receive for months. And finally, one morning, the ground will be white with the first snow, and the garden will be asleep.

It does not snow in Florence. Rain, yes. And it can freeze. And the leaves turn there, too, only they are different leaves, whose names I do not yet know.

The eMos will continue while we are in Florence. You can reach me simply by replying to an eMo. The address at St. James is via B. Rucellai,9, Florence 50123, Italy.
The Buon Viaggio party was a splendid affair, with 200 interesting people in attendance. Debbie has posted some photographs over at the HodgePodge at
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