After a number of rather unsettling instances over the course of the morning, Bloom’s heading out into his garden to go to the outhouse is a moment of repose and reflection. Not to sound goofy, but it’s a chance for him to commune a bit with nature in the middle of Dublin before he begins his journey. It’s a lovely summer morning, and he’s hoping to find some satisfaction in taking care of a physical need; remember that Bloom is pretty bodily. (By the way, “the maid was in the garden,” like “the king was in his counting-house” on the next page, comes from the nursery rhyme “Sing a song of sixpence/A pocket full of rye.”)
The scarlet runner fills the bottom center of the page, and it is definitely female looking (okay, kind of vaginal); it recalls once more the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, not the desolated desert images of earlier, but the lush and erotic flowers like this one. Bloom is in a much different place now than he was before breakfast: his own shit makes him think of the manure that makes the garden grow, and all of the ways dirt, dung, and ash are part of the life cycle.
He does, however, have to address the practical question of where his hat might be; remember it’s got that little piece of paper in it, and he’ll need it in the next episode.