Figure 1. a view of Eileen's garden in mid-June, starring the gardenia, that blowsy showoff
by EILEEN JOY
Now that it is getting really hot here in South Carolina, seeking a place in the shade becomes paramount, and even then, you need your ice bucket, your chilled vodka, your Landshark lagers, your frosted glasses, your Thievery Corporation and Morcheeba CDs, your mini-propeller fans, the Peruvian boys wielding the fans [okay, just kidding about the Peruvian boys]. I recently visited the Cohen famille and was really impressed by their back garden, mainly all in the shade, beautifully landscaped, lots of trees, and various soothing shades of green. My yard in South Carolina is mainly just pines and live oaks and camellias and azaleas with no real forethought put into the landscaping [um, we inherited it this way]--partly because, after three and a half years of doing that for a living, well . . . you get lazy, but also because: it's too damn hot!--but a few years ago we did purposefully create one space where we could hang out and read and, um, drink heavily, when it gets really hot [see picture above]. I love this space because of the density and layering of the trees [some of the oaks are over two hundred years old] and shrubs, but also because of the old garage [which is situated just to the right of the patio--see below], which we have never used as a garage, and which I mainly use as a garden backdrop and as a place to display odd objects I scavenge here and there [such as part of an iron gate that used to adorn an eighteenth-century cemetery in Georgia].
Three summers ago, a famous writer whose parents live next door asked me if he could use the garage as a place to hide from his parents, where he could get stoned and drink coffee and write, and I said, sure, and I would like to tell you the title of the book published last summer that was the result of that, but I can't [he would kill me--although I think he should also grow up--haha]. I am especially proud of the garage because about five summers ago, I and a neighbor [who worked during the day as a chemist and was trying to finish a Ph.D. in chemistry] and his pet cockatoo tore off about forty years of roof shingles [well, the cockatoo just watched: seriously, the cockatoo really did] and re-hung the crossbeam [which, by the way, is scary and dangerous work and only afterwards did my neighbor confess to me that doing that typically requires several guys and special equipment], and we then replaced the rotting tongue-and-groove pine roof with a tin roof. I wanted a tin roof because I love the sound it makes when it rains. Basically, the whole job was just to have better-sounding rain: there was no practical reason to do this. So, this is where I go, pretty much every afternoon and evening, when I want to be quiet, contemplative, or, drunk. You have to have lived in the deep South, I think, to understand the importance of drinking your way through the hot swamp of the summers. Also, when the alligators show up, you don't get upset--you just pour yourself another drink.
So, where is your oasis? It doesn't have to be a garden or even a corner in a garden, although it could be, as easily as it could be a park or a corner in a park or a certain bench in a certain corner of a certain park. But is could also be a room in your house or apartment [or a corner of that room] or one particular table in your favorite restaurant or a favorite barstool at a particular bar or a view from a certain rooftop or a quiet stairwell somewhere. It could be a table or tree you like to lie under, or even a certain vantage point someplace that is always very crowded and from which you can see things that make you feel calm [or happy]. It could be a certain gallery in a certain museum, maybe even one painting and one bench in front of that painting. Tell us your favorite place to hide or "get away" or chill, and if you can, send a picture to Eileen [at email@example.com], and we'll display that here.
Figure 2. Eileen's garage, starring the iron cemetery gate
EDIT [7:00 pm]: My current issue of Entertainment Weekly informs me that reeds are "in," bamboo is "five minutes ago," and eucalyptus is "out." I don't have any of those in my garden, but will be looking for reeds tomorrow, by which time they will be, I'm sure, "five minutes ago," and something like winter wheat will be "in."
EDIT BY KARL! Saving Eileen the trouble and sneaking into her post. My oasis? Looking out my kitchen window (see below, and yes, this is Brooklyn. Don't everybody move to Midwood at once.):
EDIT [June 21 @ 7:30 pm] Jeffrey wants us to know that his oasis is anywhere tropical, which right now is Florida:
EDIT [June 22 at 7:45 am] Irina wants us to know that her current oasis is the small balcony of her rented apartment in Berlin: