quite a few folks have written to advise me that sadness will crop up at the most unimaginable, unexpected of times, and i know this now to be true: seeing an ancient, wrinkled old man sitting all alone inside the grocery store on a bench waiting for his care taker to finish her shopping has quickly brought a knotty lump to my throat, even after i managed to catch his eye, to smile and speak to him; a little puppy on a leash in the middle of the sidewalk downtown, wailing to get attention from two admiring young women had the same out-of-nowhere effect. so did the sight of walter's beloved tennis ball, stranded on the floor of the screened porch as the sunday afternoon light faded quietly into that of muted evening. a tennis ball? making me sad? but it did. i had to move it back inside, to stop it from looking so forlorn. "be kind to yourself", others write; "take plenty of naps, read books, do not rush anything", they say. but the deadlines loomed, the groceries needed purchasing, the mess will not get picked up magically by itself; i need one of those sorcerer's apprentice brooms to carry water, to whisk the mayhem away. the ones i had assumed and expected to be in touch with me through this trying time have yet to raise their heads; there are those i've only briefly known who have risen with grace to send me cards and talismans, to write and tell me that they genuinely care. i'm deeply touched by this; i feel compassion from strangers who are no longer strange. they tell me they would come and clean the house, were they within driving range; they would come and help me finish my tasks, they would stay with walter so i could wander unhurried for hours in the surrounding woods. and i know they would, that is the thing. i absolutely know they would be here, if they could.
after two long weeks, i am finally reaching the point where i remember to carve out a little time just for myself, to manage my days so that i accomplish even the simplest of pleasures: this morning i rose early enough to walk with walter along the river in the park, fifteen minutes from here, before the inevitable summer visitors descended to break the silence along the wooded trail. not long after we'd begun walking, i stopped with an audible gasp and a tug at my heart: hello, dear woodthrush. hello. i've missed you at home, i have wondered where you had been. farther down the trail, we stepped across the exposed stones of a bend in the river bed; there at my feet was a lovely, heavy heart shaped stone larger than my streched out hand. after i had contemplated its hefty weight, the desire to keep it won in the end; i washed it with love in the cold river and carted it all the way back to the car. it will be perfect to place on daddy's grave, when next i head back to alabama. for now, it rests out on the porch at the foot of my beloved buddha.
have i mentioned that june is my favorite month of the year? i say this, every year, when it slowly descends. the lightning bugs come out at dusk, one by five by one hundred and ten, they rise from the velvety grass, they float from the mountainside across the way, they hover at my bedroom window screen at 3am and blink their gentle little morse code lights into the dark to me. i've straightened up the tiny screened porch, an extended and beloved living space this time of the year; wicker chairs from my parents' huge screened porch at their old home have come to live with me, and it is into one of those creaking pieces of furniture that i now settle every late afternoon, evening, and night, hidden amongst flushed leafy branches of dogwood and walnut trees, a quietened woman soothed by her books, her poetry, her thoughts and dreams. hummingbirds hover; wrens noisily fuss; bluebirds warble in the dusk their final lilting love song of the day. there is no woodthrush here, alas, but sometimes i am graced by a scattering of crows that fly high overhead to their own familiar, darkened roosting place. and sometimes - a gift! - the lovely haunting sound of an owl, drifting in with the nighttime breeze.
small painted pottery tray with flying woman, by julie whitmore; "November Moon no. 3" little book of artwork by cathy cullis; painted cigar box peeking out with "for keeps" by misty mawn; book i'm slowly savoring is The Paper Garden, beautifully written by poet molly peacock; aqua mason jar was purchased for temporary lightning bug up close viewings; antique bottle stopper, incredibly, was found among the rocks when i first went back to the river after daddy passed away (and to me, it says unstop your heart, let everything out, let it flow...)
i suppose this is, then, one of those little kindnesses i grant myself: unconditional permission to sit for small pockets of time without guilt and be quiet, to read and to reflect, to pad back and forth to the porch and back inside, barefooted, wearing soft faded cotton, smelling like amber or sandlewood or patchouli, after a cooling evening shower; i smell like the woods, and the distant rain. i smell vaguely like my dreams. i am a little girl, dreaming; i am the woman in faded black, holding on to her little girl dreams. xo