March 11: Sixty degrees and sunshine beckoned me outside for a very long walk. It beckoned crowds of people to the asphalt garden of our local brewpub. It beckoned garlands of crabapple blossoms draping over lawns. And it beckoned a father and son to the playground . . .
The dad sat with knees drawn tightly under his chin and his bottom resting on the metal spokes of the playground spinner. His tiny son stood on the ground, gripping each spoke as he slowly pushed the spinner around. Trying to capture his son’s efforts, the dad maneuvered his camera from hand to hand as he spun around and around. I don’t think the little boy — diligently concentrating on his task — smiled for the camera. But I know the dad will smile when he sees what I saw.
March 12: Spring? Ha! A howling blizzard landed here today. How lovely, then, that my blogger friends are converging on the contemplation of sound and stillness. Savor here the exotic sounds of New Zealand birds in Thistles & Kiwis’ garden, so different from my cardinals and finches! Notes from the Hinterland features a lively bluegrass band performing in a bookstore. (I like that combination.) And I’m moved to stillness by Ju-Lyn’s contemplative runs in Singapore.
Meanwhile, I’m listening to fierce winds as they blow accumulating snow over my valiant daffodils. I’m warm and dry inside (and yesterday was so lovely); I’ve decided that all sounds are welcomed here!
March 13: “Look at that!” Kathy pointed to a thread of snow running across a lawn. It was thin, straight and the only remnant of yesterday’s snowstorm. Tracing the snow perfectly lay the shadow of a power line floating aloft a dozen feet away. Nearly everywhere, the sun had melted the snow. And, in the exact moment Kathy and I passed the lonely snowy thread, the sun had sent a shadow to keep it company.
March 14: The 10th grade boys leaned so far out of the classroom door that I thought they would tip over before the dismissal bell rang. The bell did ring and they tumbled out, eager, I supposed, to begin their afternoon. So when I stepped through the door five minutes later, I was surprised to see them looking out the large picture window. I joined them.
Four stories above the baseball diamond, we watched a boy emerge from the shadow of the school and dash inside the fence along the warning track. “What’s Josh doing there?” one boy asked. “He lost his cleats,” someone replied. The boys watched as Josh sprinted from the outfield and down the dugout steps. Seconds passed. Then the boys erupted in a home-run cheer: Josh was now running back, clutching his white baseball shoes.
March 15: Elation! I was assigned at the last minute to High Level Literature for the 12th graders pursuing the International Baccalaureate diploma. The teacher had scattered books across the tables: Toni Morrison, Jhumpa Lahiri, Marilynne Robinson, Sylvia Plath. I took attendance, gave instructions, and watched as the students briskly tackled the day’s assignment: to analyze two poems by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Eager to dabble in the worksheet, I swaggered to my desk. Then, as I studied the assignment, humility cascaded over me; this was hard. The students, meanwhile, breezed through questions about the poems’ connotation, attitude, shift and theme. The bell rang. Back to AP Physics. What a relief.
March 16: They spilled out everywhere, on this gorgeous “early release” Wednesday. They surged across the street; they gurgled into the nearby sandwich shops; they pooled in eddies at outdoor tables; and they raced through short-cuts to neighborhood parks. The students were free and joyful. So was I.
March 16: My friend Jennifer passed away today. At 92, she lived many wonderful years as a daughter and sister, mother and grandmother, quilter and singer. For 24 years she was my neighbor. For one year, she was my dear friend. During our daily afternoon visits, we shared a single teabag (one dip for Jennifer, three for me). We bent our heads over challenging jigsaw puzzles. We exalted over the latest Jeopardy! champion. We dined on Lebanese shrimp and enjoyed an autumn walk. Jennifer cheered me on as I embarked on each new adventure, blessing me with affection and wise advice. Jennifer also told me stories: about finger prayerbooks and quilts, Newfoundland and Prince Philip.
We talked about everything, including how accepting kindness is so hard for wizened self-sufficient birds like us. But with immense grace and gratitude, Jennifer welcomed the food-infused love of her young neighbor Phoebe and the quirky attention of her polka-dot-clad gardening neighbor (me).
I think Jennifer finally believed me when I insisted that accepting love was itself a radiant form of love. Her love filled me and fills me still. I will miss you, Jennifer, and I will hold you in my heart.
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