Winter winked its lazy ice-blue eye at us this morning. Thirty seven autumn degrees, it nodded. Prepare thyselves. I am coming. Just around the pumpkin bend. Dig up those garden carrots. Finish those bunching onions. I’m coming first for the tender pink green bean blossoms. Then I’ll frost the last green out of those tomato leaves. Finally I’ll settle in to freeze the hearts of roots far below the earth. Just you wait. I am coming.
We listen with half an ear. I’m not sure my husband even listened at all. He headed out the door without even a jacket even as I reminded him of the temperature. He was still convinced summer lingers, that old man winter didn’t wink. I thought, “He’ll be back to get his coat.” He didn’t return. I thought, “See, Kathy, you are not always right!” and sang a made-up ditty about not always being right. Five minutes later the front door opened. “I need a jacket, Kathy, it’s cold out there!”
He shared a chipmunk tale over coffee this morning. One of our resident seed-loving chippies scampered up to him on the compost bin yesterday afternoon. (We no longer feed said four-leggeds on the porch, due to the seed burglary this summer when one fella chewed through our screen and leaped into the seed bucket. We have recently discovered stashed seeds in the couch cushions and stored bathroom towels.)
Back to yesterday’s chippy story. Barry brought a handful of sunflower seeds out on the compost bin and called for Chippy. One of our deviant delights came a’runnin’ with a huge acorn stuffed in his mouth. Barry held out his hand with the seed offering. Chippy stared in dismay. He didn’t want to let go of the acorn. He nudged the seeds with his wee nose trying to decide if he could simultaneously eat acorn and seeds. It proved impossible. His little tail wagged and body shook. I will not set down my acorn, but I want those seeds, his eyes pleaded. “You can’t do it, Chippy,” Barry finally laughed, “get rid of your acorn first.” He sadly eyed the seeds but bounded away into the woods with his acorn-prize.
I harvested green beans, one zucchini, one cucumber, a handful of yellow tomatoes and a gallon bag of orange delectable carrots. Delightfully, enough long purple and green rattlesnake beans existed to give a bag to our friend Nancy this week. Her grandkids think they’re magic beans. Some of ’em are definitively purple, but when you toss the bean-snakes into a pot of boiling water they turn bright green.
Speaking of orange carrots reminds me of the skies over our western United States. I’m sure you’ve seen the fire-hued skies crackling with wildfires and burnt trees and chemicals and smoke. Our daughter lives in Portland, Oregon, and my heart feels heavy imagining this burnt landscape in surrounding counties and forests and valleys. I am concerned about the air quality. It hit 516 in some parts of the county yesterday and brings yet another flavor of “I can’t breathe” to 2020.
I urged her to come home to the Upper Peninsula if necessary, but she’s not at that juncture. She still needs to go to the office once a week. They have two cats. It’s not as simple as jumping on a plane and escaping to the northwoods, Mama, no, life is not that simple.
Nonetheless. The offer stands.
I wrote a blog in early August contemplating whether to travel downstate to visit my mom at her assisted living facility during these days of covid. Should I stay or should I go? Life is not always simple, daughter, now is it? Writing is often an act of allowing thoughts to become clearer. We start writing and we simply don’t know. We perhaps don’t know days later. But eventually–through the mud of our confusion–the pond waters clear. We begin to see what feels true, for now.
I called my mom and lay all the puzzle pieces of my indecision on our table. What did SHE want? Not what I wanted or didn’t want. What did my mom want me to do? She very clearly said she wanted me to come downstate when I could be with her inside her assisted living facility. She did not want me just visiting with her outside. She did not want to stay with me at the house. “I don’t want you to come now,” she said, “Please wait until the public can come inside.” I agreed but added a caveat: “You call me the minute you need me to come.” She agreed.
Our daily phone calls ring as sweet as summer peaches. We both look forward to our daily gabbing about this, that & the other. Today she’s looking forward to pajama day. She’s planning pajama accessories. I am grinning ear-to-ear while still lingering here on the couch with my pajamas.
Our son and daughter-in-law are house shopping over there in New Jersey. Everyone in NYC is house shopping in New Jersey, trying to escape the city, and many houses are snapped up immediately after coming on the market. I am dreaming that one day they will find the perfect home, that their offer shall be accepted, and we will luxuriate in their beautiful guest bedroom. Yes, someday. Someday soon. Someday soon we are flying toward you, Chris…
Excuse me, it’s time to brew another cup of half-caf coffee with two tablespoons of Nutpod creamer for those of us dairy-less drinkers.
This blog post is more personal than I usually write these days. There are many more personal paragraphs I could share, but most of them are too personal for generalized reading. I am thinking that so many of us are challenged in certain ways during these imperfect times. We’re all carrying burdens we don’t talk about publicly–except perhaps to a few private close friends.
Another song I have been singing this morning–Hummingbird, dear hummingbird, just fly away, fly away…
In the song, Seals & Crofts urge the hummingbird not to fly away. I love you, hummingbird, the lyrics say. Don’t fly away.
But it’s time for you to fly away now, dear hummingbird. Your brethren have flown south. The males with their bright green and red feathers are gone. The crazy buzzing female frenzy has ceased.
But you remain, single female hummingbird, and I don’t want you to miss the sky train. I don’t want winter’s ice-blue eye to freeze you.
It’s time for you to fly south. We’ll remain in the northern woods waiting for your return. Sometimes it’s time to fly and sometimes we grow roots deep into the earth. Down past the orange carrots. Down, down, down, we grow…but part of us goes with you, hummingbird. Parts of us wings forever in the heavens, way up high. Both the wings and roots help us birth into whatever gifts and challenges come next.
Hummingbird, just fly away. It’s time. Our spirit goes with you.