Lily and I walked the trail to a frost-covered field the color of bone, of yellowing teeth. And she talked of her world view as it’s grown, now 16, of crystals and moon charts and social justice. And back home the perennials were starting to reemerge, the tiger lilies and others I could not name. They had the same nascent qualities of what they’d be when they bloomed, and it made me think of those old pictures of the kids when they were small. You could see who they’d be one day, and I wondered what special powers they’d discover when they bloomed.
I set about the yard picking out dead leaves and branches by hand, reminded of my uncle who worked for a body shop, who buffed out blemishes restoring things to new. He had trouble sitting still and no tolerance for germs or dirt. Mom and I remarked, these COVID times aren’t much different for him as he always used a paper towel to touch door knobs and that type of thing. I wondered if that strain of focus came down to me too, as I pulled out each dead leaf wishing the blower would make faster work of it but somehow favoring the manual nature of it. There was a kind of therapy in stripping out the dead, a queer fascination like picking at dried scabs. And this year weeding, restoring patches of earth, took on new appeal. We too could reemerge.
Weeding and editing have parallel qualities for the persnickety. I spent my week doing both, immersed in a thousand word piece of marketing collateral. It feels good to strip out words you don’t need so the ideas can flow better. Maybe it’s giving each individual idea more space on its own. Well designed gardens give us a sense of calm, a kind of balance, an element of control. I try to achieve the same in my writing to share a feeling of reflection, the wonder in the beauty of the banal. And if you can wonder in it, is it really banal?
I did all I could in the yard and ended my day with a fire and a non-alcoholic beer and country music on the portable speaker. It had all the trappings of the days when I drank except it didn’t make me feel removed. I peed by the chicken coop and picked up more dead leaves from the shrubs, more fallen limbs: I put them on the fire, then revolved around the flames and smoke. Night was coming on and with it the frogs. Gray and brown, the size of my thumb. I wanted to be out there all night with it but I went inside to check on the others and wind down. All these days stacked on top of themselves. I would come back here one day starved for more.