band-aid bouquets

the rains came hard this week, flooding hard, check-the-sump-pump hard. hail came too. and sleet, the precipitant that can’t decide, is it rain or ice.

that’s plenty pounding for my newborn starter crop, the patches here and there around the yard of cobalt blue and ice blue, and the sudden trumpet flash of yellow piped in gold.

all night, as i lay and listen to the rat-a-tat of hard drops, shuddered at the thunder’s lion roar and falsetto-whistling wind, i worried ’bout my babies. the outside ones. i knew my inside ones were safe under their blankets. were dry. were dreaming.

soon as the sun came out, soon as the squish of all that mud and ooze began to roll away, i marched out on maternal rounds, went out to tend the flock of sodden babies.

oh, there were fallen ones nearly everywhere i trod. some lay gasping still, necks bent, splayed in all the mud. others nearly had expired, their stems cracked, heads banged up all right.

rain when it’s hurling to the ground is no gentle rinse, no element of conscience. it pummels without pause, without regard to miracle in progress.

and so, i began the healer’s work. i gathered up the cobalt heads beaten to the ground. i cut short the daffodil’s pain, pulled pruners from my pocket, severed stems and limbs, all in a mission of mercy.

and as i collected all the injured, the near dead, i knew that i too was gathering my own balm, the stems that soothe my own aching nooks and crannies, the places you can’t see.

i am, it so happens, unfailingly cheered by my itty-bitty sink-side bouquets. from first bloom till far-off november, when the garden’s last is rescued; rescues me, in fact.

i will tuck thirsty stems, tired stems, stems with one last blast of merriment right there beside the spigot, at the cusp of kitchen sink and cutting board, where i spend so many hours slicing, stirring, spreading, sudsing, rinsing.
as the season gallops toward crescendo, or if a storm is particularly merciless, i’ll have not one or three odd bouquets, but a whole ward of the infirm, the maimed, the bloom in need of nursemaid.

i call them my band-aid bouquets.

truth is, the healing is a two-way lane, a commutative transfer in mathematic terms: i heal the broken growing things, give them one last drink and gulp of life; they heal me.

we are each other’s rescue squad.

for, most every day in the heart of any mama–surely any one of those who i know deeply–there is some heavy weight dragging down that four-chambered vessel, the one with room to carry such a varied load.

some weeks, it’s all we can do to keep from slumping at the waist, what with the heaviness we bear inside our chests.

and somehow, through the alchemy of small delights, my sink-side bouquets are there to whisper words of hope to me.

as i wonder and worry–be it work or world or friend or the stumbling of my boys–i glance down upon their nodding heads, inhale their woodland perfume, marvel at their overdose of color, and i am soothed by their mere insistence of being.

i cannot give up, cannot surrender, not when these tender offerings from deep within the earth depend on me for ministrations, for shelter from the storm, to lift them from the mud, to lay awake at night worried for their tender heads.

it is the unspoken, unflagging pact of the garden and the gardener.

we patch each other’s wounds. we heal what hurts. we put band-aid to the broken parts.

and then, arm in stem, we’re strong against the wind.

this is late, today. so sorry. i was out on a field trip till mid-afternoon. the resident architecture critic was climbing tall buildings, peering out through sky-high gothic buttresses with a classroom’s worth of 8- and 9-year-olds. i held my breath–and a few shaky hands–and followed close behind.

here’s the meandering question: where do you find balm when you are wobbly on the inside, especially in your heart?