the knock at the door

as often happens around here, i was neck-deep in writing, pounding away on the keyboard, sweat beads practically pouring, i was thinking so hard. wrestling sentences into their pens, trying to catch wayward thoughts, haul them back from the pasture.

that’s when the knock came. actually, it was the second knock. i’d typed through the first, wholly escaped it.
at last, as the rap grew bolder, more insistent, i finally connected, realized the banging on glass was a knock on the door.

someone, apparently, wanted to chat. either that, or a stranger needed to borrow the salle de bain, to powder her nose before ambling along.

so up from my chair i stumbled. nearly tripped on the rug (writing intensely is dangerous business, do not believe otherwise, people…).

as i rounded the bend i saw not a magazine peddler, nor a sharpener of knives. no, no. twas my dear beloved garden archangel, my beautiful neighbor who lives in her garden clogs, 24-7, who forever is wearing her gardener’s kneepads, who’s never met a puddle of mud she wasn’t apt to sink, swim or splash in.

she works in her beds for hours on end, humming along as she hoes, i assure you. has a sweet little pug, a doglet named raisin, (here’s a marvelous thing, a tangent of course, but what beauty is life if not for the tangents we take: ol’ raisin? her middle name, truly, is ettes. raisin ettes. get it?).

back to the story:

raisin, whose legs are maybe two inches long, and whose belly circumference might be, oh, 24 inches, making her decidedly a walking defiance of gravity, she is the official garden dog of the ‘hood. she is adept, really, at tiptoeing around the delicate things. never once have i seen her squish a tender stem, or flatten a bloom with her bum. i don’t believe she’s yet learned to fetch whatever it is that her archangel needs, but i’m sure she’s practicing madly.
the thing about raisin is, she needs breaks. she cannot be expected to dig up bare roots, lounge in the daisies for hours on end. she needs to exercise those wee little leg muscles. she needs to waddle.

so, not only is her archangel a master of her own garden, she keeps a close eye on everyone else’s.

mine, for instance.

and so it was that while i sat feverishly typing, pounding out vowels, reaching for consonants, the archangel of gardens discovered something magnificent right under my nose.

something i’d utterly missed.

once i got to the door where she paced, i knew right away there was news.

perhaps another house had been tumbled, i suddenly feared (they seem to be felled with alarming rapidity).

perhaps her petunias were deep under water (the rains poured mercilessly night before last, burying this fine little burg in gallons and gallons–whole hectares–of water).

as i opened the door, she began: “have you seen your tree peony?,” she practically shouted.

“why, it’s the most beautiful shade of peach i might ever have seen. it stops you on the street, it’s impossible not to marvel.”

i looked up, sheepish.

i had no clue it was out there.

last time i’d paid attention, the darn thing was merely a bud. a fat one perhaps. a swollen one. but hardly a bloom to pull folks in off the sidewalk.

apparently, in the thick of the rains, it did what blooms do: it unfolded, eased back its brilliant pink-flamingo petals, gulped heartily of the drink from the skies.

it wasn’t shy. didn’t cower under the rainclouds.

it bloomed, hallelujah. put on its own personal fourth-of-july pyrotechnics. (never mind that it was the 13th of may).

and i, intent on making sense of a story. intent on cleaning the kitchen, getting the kiddies straight out the door and onto the schoolbus, i’d missed it completely.

made me wonder, as i tiptoed back out later last night, under the light from the porch and the very few moonbeams that poked through the clouds, as i studied the crepe-paper crinkle of each of those sumptuous petals, as i marveled at petticoat-ruffle-upon-petticoat-ruffle (no quinceanera ballgown, the ones in lollipop colors that hang in the shop windows and beckon young girls in from the sidewalk, has ever equaled the volumes of ruffly fluff), it all made me wonder just how often i miss the beauty right under my nose?

how can something so short-lived, something so utterly breath-taking, be so veryclose, but not noticed?

are we typing too madly?

rushing too mindlessly?

are we missing the prize that quietly blooms, right under our gaze?

yesterday, were it not for the knock at the door, were it not for my blessed archangel of garden, i’d have missed the beautiful.

i’d have missed the holy.

i am haunted, and slowed, by the peony that nearly exploded and shriveled and vanished, before i’d paid one ounce of attention.

what beauties have you missed of late? what tales of narrow escape have you to tell here? do you have an archangel who taps at your door, reminds you to notice the beautiful?
bless the archangels….