Sunday, May 24, 2015

When the Red and Blue Bring Greens and Golds

"Want to smell it?" he asks, stepping aside from the window.
Photo Artist: Jar (Away), Creative Commons, cc license
It's been raining for four hours, a misty, hard-to-see rain that flickers translucent in the air. Water soaks the grass, clusters and puddles atop crescent-shaped purple coral-bell leaves, and drips in steady rhythm from the canvas folded patio umbrella. Leaves hang heavy in saturation, and the backyard is awash in greens.

Daniel and I sniff the crisp air, inhaling the sweet rain scent.

Sixteen year old Morgan and I just returned from an afternoon of shopping. "I'm such a girl," Morgan laughed, excited about her shoes. In Memorial Day savings of fifty percent off at our favorite St. Paul thrift store, we took turns in the fitting rooms, waited in line for a chance to slip on capris, and scoped out a used Spiderman bicycle for Daniel.

I love the diversity of cultures and languages in that thrift store. We saw elementary-aged girls in long headscarves playing tag in the aisles, and listened to families strategize together in lovely lilting Spanish to find shoes size five-and-a-half. West African women chatted outside the dressing rooms in an accent that sounds like home to me, and Morgan and I stepped gently around a shy Hmong girl with two barrettes in her hair.

On a weekend that we remember wars past, and thank our service men and women for their courageous choice to defend and protect us, I see the beauty of that hard-won world. In a free land, people from all cultures and languages are protected and valued. We are better for having them, and it gives me glimpses of heaven.

Rain still falls and a wet cardinal somewhere chirps. Shimmering leaves drip jeweled orbs, and the array of greens is staggering.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When Your Stakes Seem Higher

The stakes seemed higher. It's funny how that happened. Every week without a blogpost here raised the cost of words for me, and weighted each one heavier.
Photo: Martin O_ob, Creative Commons, cc license
Busyness first halted me, carrying me away from my desk and you. Days passed, weeks mounted, though, and suddenly fear crept in. I wanted the words to have beauty, to hold meaning, and to be worthy of your time. And that wrangled a finger hold around my throat. It choked my words inside me.

Simple images of grandpas and gardens, and two sons in the dirt. My dad, silver-haired, looking more and more like his dad, kneels on dew-dropped grass blades. "I forgot my knee pads," he murmurs, dipping an orange-handled shovel into a shallow channel.

We're building four raised garden beds again, in the new yard. His hair is starting to curl around the edges, "Like Uncle Kurt," my mom and I notice, and he is so much stronger since September's cancer surgeries and the ceremonial-eating of the only apple on the tree

My twenty-year old son is there for his strength and his love of the outdoors. He and his grandpa wield a borrowed yellow mallet, heavy enough to tip me over when I pass it unexpectedly at one point.

"Can I help? What can I hammer?" hopes six year old Daniel aloud.

"Hey, Daniel. Here's a spot you can hammer." John points to an upraised metal reebar tip and crouches beside his brother, and my mama heart sings.

A red cardinal crows birdeee birdeeee birdeee from the highest point of a silver balsam tree behind us, and the rising morning sun warms us. My nose runs from the cold air. A wind shakes cottonwood seeds down around us from the neighbor's tree.

"Ready for the next post, John?" my dad asks, and I snap out of reverie and jump green corduroy sneakers onto my pitch fork, preparing the soil before them.

Write what you know, right? I know about heavy squares of sod chopped and shaken to save any garden dirt; black-capped chicadees and cardinal soliloquies, and sons with grandpas wielding mallets. I know french-pressed coffee oils swirling atop hot mugs, and dirt under the nails despite three washings. I see hard-working loved ones, and smell rain-fresh brown dirt, sliced grass sod, and lilacs from the neighbor's front yard.

And the moment captured is enough. My job is to see and note.

For you? Is there anything that looms taller with each passing day? Step in, pull up the chair, take that first action. The fear will still be there, I confess, but the hidden joy that comes from doing what you were made to do will spring up and delight you. I promise.

How are you? I've missed you. Catch me up?