Yesterday was an odd day.

My neighbor to the east, long ago christened Good Neighbor, has a son that I’m currently calling Lawn Boy. Lawn Boy lives with his mom and dad, and is trying to get a lawn mowing business off the ground. He and I often meet at the shared fence to chat about dogs and gardens and such. I have very little lawn left in my front yard, because I’ve been gradually replacing it with native plants for the last three years. Lawn Boy recently volunteered his mowing services, free of charge, to take care of the remaining grass (and by grass, I mean horrid nest of weeds) in the front yard. He mows weekly, which makes me painfully aware of whether I’ve worked in the front garden recently. It’s a good motivator.

Anyway, Lawn Boy mowed on Friday, so yesterday, I got up early, and spent a couple of hours in the front yard, weeding and trimming and cleaning up. Even though most of the plants are natives, and need very little care, they do benefit from the occasional hacking back. I also have some very hardy roses that need regular dead heading if I want them to continue blooming.

I really like spending this kind of quality time in my garden. It’s lovely, and calm, and there is bustling life going on all around me. I have all sorts of things, good and not so good, living in my garden. Butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and dragonflies often stop in. I have blue jays and cardinals living my my trees, and an enormous black crow who stops in several times a week to splash in the bird bath like a two year old. Fire ants regularly try to set up camp, and must be removed. Mosquitoes must be discouraged when the birds can’t keep up with them. Things grow and flourish, and sometimes, they die. It’s a wonderful place to see all the stages of life in action all at the same time. It’s also a good place to just let my mind wander, which leads to all sorts of arty trouble…

In the spring, this kind of work is really very pleasant, but here in North Texas, we’ve moved on to summer, which is nothing short of brutal. It’s been in the 90s all week, with lows in the 70s. It’s a little early for this much heat this soon. It also makes garden maintenance more brutal. By 10:30, I was soaked in sweat, hot, and cranky. After a glass of ice water and a change of shirt, I went back at it for another hour, and then had to surrender. Too hot.

So, I’ve had this shrine object sitting on my workroom shelf for over a year now. It was just a house-shaped shadow box that I pulled the shelves out of, and gessoed on the inside, and a kind of death angel figure I put together from a plastic skull and a dollar store resin angel, and gessoed. The angel, perched in the box, stared down from the shelf, right in my eye line when I was working, for over a year, and for the life of me, I just couldn’t finish the piece. It was like I got it going, and then just lost it.

For some reason, after a second glass of ice water, and a third shirt, I walked into my workroom yesterday, looked at that piece, and something just—clicked. Within two hours, I had it roughed out, and I did my usual work a little, walk away for a while thing, gradually solving each problem and filling each empty spot. By the time I went to bed, it was done.

Just like that. Bam. Done.

I blame it on the heat.