المشاركات

عرض المشاركات من ديسمبر, 2018

Epiphany in the Beans

صورة
It came to me while picking beans, the secret of happiness. I was hunting among the spiraling vines that envelop my teepees of pole beans, lifting the dark-green leaves to find handfuls of pods, long and green, firm and furred with tender fuzz. I snapped them off where they hung in slender twosomes, bit into one, and tasted nothing but August, distilled into pure, crisp beaniness. This summer abundance is destined for the freezer, to emerge again in deep midwinter when the air tastes only of snow. By the time I finished searching through just one trellis, my basket was full. To go and empty it in the kitchen, I stepped between heavy squash vines and around tomato plants fallen under the weight of their fruit. They sprawled at the feet of the sunflowers, whose heads bowed with the weight of maturing seeds. Lifting my basket over the row of potatoes, I noticed an open furrow revealing a nest of red skins where the girls left off harvesting that morning. I kicked some soil over them so th

Allegiance to Gratitude

صورة
There was a time, not so long ago, when my morning ritual was to rise before dawn and start the oatmeal and coffee before waking the girls. Then I would get them up to feed the horses before school. That done, I would pack lunches, find lost papers, and kiss pink cheeks as the school bus chugged up the hill, all before filling bowls for the cats and dog, finding something presentable to wear, and previewing my morning lecture as I drove to school. Reflection was not a word frequently on my mind those days. But on Thursdays, I didn’t have a morning class and could linger a little, so I would walk the pasture to the top of the hill to start the day properly, with birdsong and shoes soaked in dew and the clouds still pink with sunrise over the barn, a down payment on a debt of gratitude. One Thursday I was distracted from the robins and new leaves by a call I received from my sixth-grade daughter’s teacher the night before. Apparently, my daughter had begun refusing to stand with the clas

The Consolation of Water Lilies Before

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I knew it, and long before the pond was ready for swimming, they were gone. My daughter Linden chose to leave the little pond and put her feet in the ocean at a redwood college far from home. I went to visit her that first semester and we spent a lazy Sunday afternoon admiring the rocks of the agate beach at Patrick’s Point. Walking the shore, I spotted a smooth green pebble threaded with carnelian, just like one I’d passed by a few steps earlier. I walked back, searching the strand until I found it again. I reunited the two pebbles, letting them lie together, shining wet in the sun until the tide came back and pulled them apart, rolling their edges smoother and their bodies smaller. The whole beach was like that for me, a gallery of beautiful pebbles divided from each other and from the shore. Linden’s way on the beach was different. She too was rearranging, but her method was to place gray with black basalt and pink beside a spruce green oval. Her eye was finding new pairings; mine w

A Mother’s Work

صورة
I wanted to be a good mother, that’s all—like Skywoman maybe. Somehow this led me into hip waders filled with brown water. The rubber boots that were intended to keep the pond at bay now contain it. And me. And one tadpole. I feel a flutter at the back of my other knee. Make that two tadpoles. When I left Kentucky to go house hunting in upstate New York, my two small daughters gave me an explicit wish list for our new home: trees big enough for tree forts, one apiece; a stone walk lined with pansies like the one in Larkin’s favorite book; a red barn; a pond to swim in; a purple bedroom. The last request gave me some comfort. Their dad had just pulled up stakes, left the country —and us. He said that he no longer wanted a life with so much responsibility, so the responsibility was all mine. I was grateful that, if nothing else, I could at least paint a bedroom purple. All winter long I looked at house after house, none of which made sense for either my budget or my hopes. Real estate li

Witch Hazel

صورة
As told through the eyes of my daughter. November is not a time for flowers, the days short and cold. Heavy clouds drag at my mood, and sleet like a muttered curse propels me indoors—I am reluctant to venture out again. So when the sun breaks through for that rare yellow day, maybe the last before the snow falls, I have to go. Because the woods are quiet this time of year without leaves or birds, the buzz of a bee seems inordinately loud. Intrigued, I follow her path—what could bring her out in November? She makes directly for bare branches, which, when I look more closely, are strewn with yellow flowers—Witch Hazel. The flowers are a ragged affair: five long petals, each like a scrap of fading yellow cloth that snagged on the branch, torn strips that wave in the breeze. But, oh are they welcome, a spot of color when months of gray lie ahead. A last hurrah before winter that suddenly reminds me of a November long ago. The house had stood empty since she left. The cardboard Santas she h