All Hallow’s Eve

Today’s weather prediction proved spot on. Air temperature barely crested freezing. The shrugging mountains pulled down clouds like knitted caps, although for warmth or anonymity I couldn’t say. Their obscure motive kept all moisture hesitating, ultimately staying put aloft. The flat corner lot maintained a muted witness.

Today marks eight full years living on the northwest quadrant of this intersection. The house was built a year before I was born, a time of stubborn cheerfulness in the face of A-bombs and communists, and the new expression of patriotism, which was prosperity. In sixty-five years, it has shifted, following the subtle moves of the powerful soil on which it stands. I’ve shifted, too.

The quiet of living alone inside the house no longer startles. No longer embarrassing, the ubiquity of dandelions are cherished for their reliable and well-timed nourishment to bees of every stripe. I no longer resent the intrepid soil, respecting instead its awesome ability to expand and contract, accepting with gratitude all it allows to grow.

I’ve lived here long enough to hear the soil’s memories. The successful rooted penetration of prairie grasses holding everything in place through cloudbursts and rough spring wind. The thunder of bison hooves, their snorts, bellows, and rolling. The burrowing of prairie dogs, ferrets, owls, and snakes. The scamper of rabbits and pronghorns. The dancing songs of meadowlarks. Then, the bellicose rumbling of earthmoving machines.

I’ve learned to cook for one and always have enough for company. And friends have come. They’ve walked over from down the block. They’ve journeyed here from the past, trekked here from Wisconsin and Iowa and Minnesota, from Adliswil and Manchester and Wakkerstroom.

Now, the day before All Hallow’s Eve, I also remember the souls who visited and have made even longer journeys home. Having known them here and knowing they will never be here, again, adds to the sacredness of this experience, of having been changed by a place even as I have endeavored to make this place my own.