Timelessness

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There is something timeless about a stormy afternoon.

Even though the wind has everything in motion. Leaves let go and scuttle across pavement. Newly uncloaked locust branches, dipped in wet ink, sign repeating messages against the screen of gray sky. Chimes in the snowball bush outside your studio diminuendo then clang again on the same four notes.

Here, at the desk which was still in your father’s office three years ago, the light from the window doesn’t change.

There is something delicious about the timelessness of a stormy afternoon. You eat a bit too much of it and grow dreamy. The chords of ambition you had yesterday, when the peak was covered in snow, when the sun came and went and the air remained mild, when the washer filled and emptied onto the line, when the last of the black beans were harvested, when the garlic harvested in July was tucked in neat rows following the beans and covered with old pine needles, when the fresh sheets went back on the bed, when the onions simmered into the first robust soup, when the house was tidied, when candles were lit and the table set for company, those chords have become a hypnotic drone in which countless melodies reside.

Choose one of those melodies and let it lead you into remembering how much you love looking up words in a heavy, printed dictionary. Drop into the relaxed rhythm of your breathing, the sense that you are napping while fully awake, the sense of fullness in your belly where awareness dwells and phrases form and echo out like slow strikes on a steeple-full of well-cast bells.

You feel warm and steamy as if fresh from your bath and the Lawrence Welk show is floating bubbles up the screen. You feel dark and purposeful like the garlic.

On the aqua vinyl cushions on the furniture on the front porch, hundreds (oh, yes, hundreds) of spring bulbs are sorted according to type and destination. Harvested from the soil near where the bones of your great grandparents rest and destined to naturalize on the last rise of prairie below the Rockies, they are stalwart and ready. When the storm passes, work resumes.

For now, the industry of timelessness is warranted.

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Good Rest

starry-night1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Good rest! And as you settle in,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember that the light within
Still glimmers through this day,
That you might, with a gentle pow’r,
All suff’ring cause to sway.
 
With sparkles of divinity
Each blessed soul is born.
The image of Eternity
Marks every blessed form.
And all who come to honor this
Will banish human scorn.
 
And so, with ev’ry breath you take
To Spirit you give voice.
Be mindful that it’s love you make;
It is a holy choice.
With ecstacy your birthright,
In every day rejoice!
 
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy!
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
 

Letting Things Be

It’s getting close to cut-back time in the gardenhood. Close, but not quite. I need to rest in winter’s processes a while longer.

Most of the neighbors swept their leaves into plastic sacks months ago. Their yards are as tidy as winter allows. The only rake I touched pulled the leaves from a patch of lawn under the front yard crab on to the shade bed. Otherwise, I’ve left every stalk to blanch and let winds gather last summer’s canopy around dry stems and slumbering rosettes.

Frankly, it’s a mess.

The garden hasn’t developed winter interest. It’s sparsely planted and immature, lacking the textural carpets, architectural elements, and focal points that carry garden aesthetics through a brown Colorado winter. Even so, I couldn’t bare the thought of taking anything down.

There’s a very practical benefit: Everywhere the leaves have stayed, the soil remains moist and frozen. This, despite no snow for a month. I checked just yesterday, when the temperature flirted with 60 degrees, and the sun came and went behind April-dressed clouds. It comforts me to know that below the unkempt surface all is as it should be. Life continues.

I’ve needed to be with the garden as it is, to hang fussy habits in a crowded closet and rest. I find it quieting to watch the red cabbage, which never flourished in depleted soil, as it discolors and droops. The once proud iris leaves prostrate themselves and pale. Seed heads topple and spill. Stems crack and bend at strange angles.

Observing all this without interrupting it for pretty’s sake has been a tonic for grief-frayed nerves. Following last year’s departure and falling away, I’ve had some healing to do. Many friends have experienced great loss, rough transitions, and trauma as well. I seem to feel each one with them, more acutely than before. The garden, in its dormancy, soothes me by its example: Nothing is defeated, only submitting, changing, returning to earth.

Twenty years ago, on a Pacific beach in Nicaragua, I found shell after shell worn to pink and cream translucence. Held up to the sun, warmth and light shown through them, making them feel alive in a way, surely transformed from the husks of protection they had once been. I was inspired. I wanted to become translucent, too. Then, I was struck with terror, understanding the enormous forces involved.

Some while ago, a previous gardener tossed handfuls of small shells into the long parking median turned street garden on this flat corner lot. Now and then one surfaces, dirty, in tact. Taken away from pounding surf and constant tides, hidden in the soft darkness of the soil, they won’t ever polish thin enough for sunlight to shine through. I like to imagine how they got there, but I don’t envy their fate.

So, this winter, I’m witnessing the forces of nature in the garden and the forces of life in myself. Despite the tumble-down appearance of both, all is well. Below the surface, we are waiting for spring and very much alive.