the rat-a-tat of the rain stopped. and that of the week as well.
at long last, i listened. heard little but the last of the waterlogged drops, rolling down from the leaves and the stems and the petals.
the world out my window is soggy. so am i, from the back-to-school week.
but these are the sacred hours. i’m alone in the house. the boys, at long last, are tucked into desks. the clock ticks. the coffeepot occasionally gurgles.
i have nowhere to be, and nothing to do. except to be here. where, like an old scarecrow who’s lost all his straw, i tuck myself back together again.
which is why i went out to the garden.
i’d looked, as i puttered and put things away, at the old cracked milk pitcher, the one that sits squat on the old maple table.
i looked at its blooms–spent, stooped, so very tired. the hydrangea, and a limp stalk of phlox, both looked as if someone had let out their air. wholly deflated. and the black-eyed susans, they’d lost their wink. mostly were crinkled.
so i reached under the sink, pulled out my pruners, and set out to where the breathing begins again: out in my waterlogged garden.
i shook a few daisies dry. tried to help a sodden anemone stand. i tiptoed back to where the black-eyed susans were tangled and wet, bent down in yoga repose.
then i started to snip. took some weight off their limbs. snipped and watched them spring back to upright. became like a game. making the blooms boing back to life, instead of the way that they were, fallen and flimsy.
i snipped and they boinged. and that’s when i realized i was holding the prize: i’d gathered a fistful. a fat fistful, too.
now, let me just mention this one little thought: there is hardly a balm–at least not at my house–so soothing, so calming, as the pure joy of gathering blooms for the kitchen.
a good quarter hour outside, time enough for my toes to get muddy again, and my cuffs to get soggy, i turned back to the house, my boinging all done.
i gathered a whole host of pitchers and jugs and wee little vases. stood by the sink, stripping off leaves from the ends, the parts that would drink in the water.
and then i tucked in stem after stem. composed whole bouquets. a shooting-out yellow thing here, a floppy purple thing there. rounded out with daisies, and mint that grows wild.
felt something like embroidery, only with stems instead of fine threads. anemones instead of french knots.
when i was finished, when each of my pitchers and wee little vases were filled, i took a deep breath and realized that i too, after all this snipping and tucking, had taken some weight off my tired old limbs.
oh, i’d still not gotten nearly enough sleep. remembered reading the clock at 2 and at 4. thought back to the long week of lists. the getting up early. going to bed late.
i thought about all of the worries, the ones that come at the start of the school year. the ones when you pray your children are whole, and ready to take what’s ahead. when you pray that they’ll bob on the in-and-out tides. and the waves, too, that crash to the shore.
and then i just stood there. took in the tick of the clock. the rustle of breeze through the cranberry bush, just out the door.
i delivered my pitchers and vases back to the places they perch, the table, the sill, and right by the door.
then i sighed. and whispered the launch of a prayer.
if only a stroll through a water-soaked garden could fix all the bent-over limbs in our lives.
if only the lull in the rain brought peace to all the places too sodden to stand and soak up the rays of the sun, the sun that’s sure to break through the clouds. one of these most blessed hours.
it hit me like a bulls-eye this week: the job i love most in my life is the one where i make this house a sacred place, a tranquil place, and where it’s my job to be the emotional rescue for the ones who dwell here. oh, sure, i love my story-gathering gig, but the job that fills me up the more i pour out, it’s my mama job.
gathering blooms after the rain is but one manifestation of that holy endeavor, soothes me, maybe even soothes the ones who will bound in here at the end of the day.
what are the holy tasks you stitch into your life to smooth out the wrinkles all around you?