I came home on Saturday from Fargo, where the waters are rising on the Red River, as they do every spring. Here at home, the lane was dry, the yard half-clear of snow. There was a greening to the grass. I looked out at the detritus of winter almost past. The day was not spent cleaning out there. I baked, tidied, helped the girls play dress-up with clothes one had outgrown and passed down to another. Let my older daughter try on old things of mine. She wouldn’t take them off, so thrilled was she to feel like a young lady. Tended a sick young man, whose lack of liquid intake had me fretting.
At the end of the day, I stood in the unfinished living room and watched the sunlight fade from the great, blue sky, streaked side to side with pale clouds. A jet’s trail decorated them in a vertical line that twisted and flowed like a misty ribbon trailing from heaven. It will get cold again soon, they say. But not that day.
I had time. I sat in the sun beside the south window and edited. Wrote my husband several emails. Smiled at the news that I’ve sold a few more articles. Looked forward to the fall and salivated over nefarious creative plans. Thought about proposals I haven’t followed up on, knew I had my reasons.
The garden’s soil is exposed, and life is coming back to my world. Life is coming back to me. It seems the detritus of a soul’s winter has been cleared away after the last year. Now, to rebuild. I’m off to work on the living room, where the smell of damp plaster makes me smile, and the sight of a finish line lifts my heart. I can’t wait for painting.
I want to get on my bike, and to clear rubbish from those flowerbeds that are reasonably dry. I feel the heady enthusiasm of time quickly turning past. Life is a merry-go-round of colours flashing by almost before my eye can catch them.
There was a point years ago where time’s obligations weighed me down so heavily, I couldn’t conceive of how people enjoy life. I could see them pretending to, or getting carried along by it, incapably busy and scheduled into chains. But to grab it in giant fistfuls, to embrace it and immerse in it — that can’t be bought or sold. It’s not found in the Caribbean or on a cruise ship, in a designer store experience or an expensive night out.
It’s in the garden, growing quietly, competing with the weeds, fragile and easily choked out — the love of life that comes from knowing God. It’s in the wind and the misty ribbons of cloud and vapour that decorate the sky for a moment before being swept away on the passing invisible currents. It is leaves not yet unfurled, stretching out to spite drought and pestilence.
I can help it along a little here and there. A wise person builds her house. Plants her vineyard, considers her field. Examines the soil and nurtures it — yes, soil can certainly be nurtured. Like a proverb, life is poetry. We are given a sonnet, with all its constraints; but within its lines, we may say whatever we want.
I have a poem of a derelict yard, amuck from winter’s oppression; a poem of the place and time where I am set by the great hand which holds me safe forever. This too shall pass; the time and season will fade, the stars will grow old and be done with. A new season will come.
I should like it not to be completely alien. I should like its newness to contain a familiar echo, one that has reached my ear from the faded era which has drifted me to heaven’s door on the unseen currents of its ocean. Like the sound of many waters. Can you hear it?