i was stumbling out the door, as is often my woopsy-daisy style, when there in front of me i noticed the coil of gray-with-red-stripe. i followed that serpentine thing, traced it along, to see where it snaked, that long-throated gullet of gray.
and that’s when i noticed it limp by the tree.
dripping by the tree.
days and days by the tree.
the little tree. the new-enough tree. the tree just aiming to steady itself, sink in its bearings, there in the earth that was mine to tend, to watch over, to keep from harm’s way.
quick as i could, i flipped back through the hour-by-hour day-keeper that is my life, tried like the dickens to recall just when i’d last put a foot in these parts, all the while lurching like nobody’s business toward that slow-dripping maw, that hose that had been, um, watering my tree since lord only knows when.
call the flood insurers. call the priest. might it be time for last rites for this poor little crabapple sprout, drowned at the hand of a scatter-brained gardener?
far as i could count, it had been no less than 72 hours of gulping down drink.
poor little tree. somewhere late monday’s eve it must have been starting to slosh, gurgling there in the so-sodden garden, crying out in diluted distress: “yo, wouldya mind corkin’ the tap? gettin’ kinda squishy out here.”
alas, i wasn’t listening. had long forgotten the hose, the tree, the slow-dripping attempt to quench a deep-autumn’s thirst.
had gotten lost in the trials of a high schooler who studies, routinely, till 3 in the morn, and the woes of the third-grader kicked in the groin. and the mate barreling toward a book deadline, all but vanished from our midst. and don’t forget laundry and dinner and life. and taking the train, to and fro work.
by then it was wednesday.
bring on the lifeboats.
yes, indeedy, while i carried on with my days and my ways, that ol’ tree got more and more and more of what maybe, once, long ago, it had lifted a limb and politely asked for, would you, uh, mind sharing a short juiceglass of water, please.
not two bathtubs full.
not enough h-2-o to turn dirt into bubbling brew.
don’t know about you, but i never take kindly, nor gently, to discovering–nay, rediscovering–the soft underbelly of my swiss-cheese cerebrum. my brain with random and occasional holes so roomy a maze-loving mouse could have quite a heyday.
slapped myself upside that noggin. reached for the phone, the confessional of choice in a telecom age. nope, did not call my priest; called my mama, an even better confessor.
when i blurted out that i’d um, left the hose running for days, then asked if maybe i might have killed the poor tree, she wasted no time beating around this wet bush. why, she turned the hose right back at me, and asked, “why would you do that, what with all the rain in the forecast?”
well, thing is, said i in hopes of defending my sorry old self, i, um, obviously haven’t a clue–not a one–as to why in the world i would force-drink my tree, my innocent tree that’s done nothing at all, not a thing, to deserve such an over-drenched fate.
still in search of consolation, i dialed yet another number.
i put in a call to one of my fairy gardenmothers, one who could not have been kinder, nor gentler, nor more forgiving.
“look out the window,” said she, “you might notice that mother nature is doing the same, letting loose gallons and gallons of water, in preparation for a long dry winter. fear not, you merely gave the ol’ girl a head start. all will be well with your tree.”
and so we pray here at the home of the spigot that won’t be quelled.
while musing this waterlogged state of soggy affairs, it got me paying attention to the notion that maybe my tree stands (well now it might be leaning) as testament to the fact that i oughtn’t be galloping quite so breathlessly through my days, panting from weekend to weekend, just praying not to fall flat on my face.
it’s the occupational hazard, i fear, of working so hard to get through the days.
it’s all one big heart-thumping gasp. the trying to not miss a deadline, not starve the children, not overlook a third-grade reading assignment.
to say nothing of remembering the kisses on the forehead at bedtime. the cups of tea delivered to the study carrel at 2 a.m. the lunches packed with love notes.
with all it takes to stay afloat, it’s a darn miracle more trees aren’t drowning just beyond my door.
come to think of it, maybe i oughta look into ark rentals. just in case we stumble on an unbroken wet spell.
for now, i’ll assume my tree will make it through the long dry winter, and come back next spring to teach me more in the slow-it-down department.
if not, i’ll pray for resurrection. a prayer that never dies.
what signs have you stumbled on lately, signaling you might be dashing at break-neck speed? too fast for your own good, or that of those you love?