April 29: Kevin and I stepped off the curb for an evening walk. A young couple holding hands rounded the corner in our direction. I saw, against the man’s chest, what was either a reddish brown softball or the head of a tiny baby. But I saw no holder, no straps, no sling.
We got closer. “New baby?” Yes, three weeks old. “Is your shirt going that?”
Sure enough, the dad’s t-shirt was sewn with an enormous tight deep (matching) pocket across the chest. The newborn snuggled contentedly. Kevin and I smiled contentedly too.
April 30: Thanks to a woeful conflation of circumstances (imagine an undetected leak), I found myself surrounded by piles of my old clothes. Fancy tops, Easter suits, too-tight trousers. Five feet of clothes that I never wore; eight inches of clothes that I did.
And buried at the bottom of the closet I found my old fencing gear: gloves, jacket, foil and helmet. Twenty years ago, I chose fencing as my exercise. I attended an academy, learned to lunge, parry and feint, and even competed in a tournament. (Source of pride: I scored one “touch” against the eventual champion.) And then I put my foil away, except for appearing in full regalia one more time — at Nate’s first grade gym class.
Hmmm. Let me check to see if the first grade school is looking for a substitute PE teacher next week…
May 1: As I drove past miles of new fields cloaked in possibility, I thought of my morning devotional. This week’s reflection invites us to turn “apparently inconsequential” objects, events and encounters “into an experience of hope and delight.” (Patrick Kavanagh, No Earthly Estate) Kavanagh talked about a mindset that finds the sacred everywhere.
A friend today described her own wonder and gratitude after a week filled with God sightings. I understood. Whether awestruck by impossibly yellow fields or by a female duck stopping you in your tracks and gazing straight into your eyes, I kind of like a mystical view of the world. The sacred is everywhere, if I just pay attention.
May 2: Ok, I have a tendency to clench my jaw and hammer my teeth closed, especially when I’m “efforting.” (My yoga teacher uses that word; I like how it captures the shadow side of trying.) I “effort” nearly all the time, especially when I’m tugging at weeds.
This morning, I followed the shade around the garden and tugged at a lot of weeds. I finally caught myself clenching and released a soft “oh” sound, in order to change the vibe. And then to my astonishment, that “oh” unleashed all three verses of “Iowa Stubborn,” the opening number of our high school musical, The Music Man. Apparently, I can’t clench my jaw or hammer my teeth while I’m singing.
So, as I warbled “Iowa Stubborn” over and over again, I thought about my dear friends Kathy, Cindy and Laurna, who starred in the production. (I was merely a “Pick-a-Little Lady,” with one line: “Rabalais!”) And I thought about Kevin, because “Iowa Stubborn” figures prominently in the story of how we met.
Maybe I was “efforting” to recall all the words; but my face happily yielded to the song — and the smiles.
May 3. I sat in the empty basin of our ornamental pond, scraping silt and algae. Then I sat in the ornamental grass hosing off the pump and its parts. At last I sat on the edge of the patio, exhausted from another five hours of spring garden cleanup.
Our kind neighbors walked over. (Oh no. Had they heard me singing?) While the husband reassembled the pond’s pump, the wife congratulated me on the garden’s transformation. Then she said, “I was going to tell you this morning, but I decided to wait. We’ve seen snakes.”
I plan to do all of tomorrow’s mulching standing up. With my eyes closed.
May 4: I came to the bay to watch the sunset but found the sounds instead. Standing as quiet as I could, I distinguished a half dozen different birds calls. I heard a dog and her owner crunch over the clam shell path. I heard the click of a shutter under a twelve inch camera lens. And always, always, the surf pounded, a continuous roar 300 yards behind me beyond the beach vegetation and dunes.
I didn’t close my eyes to lay mulch. But I closed them to absorb the setting sun.
(I just opened my eyes to write this. And now I’m closing them again.)
May 5: Today I read a book, sat in the sunshine, played a game, chatted with neighbors, and sipped a beer. Oh yes, I also admired all my hard work.
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