The Earth Asserting Itself

052815It was a week of waters coming in, homes floating away, mud washing across the streets. We are woken in the middle of the night by thunder, then the human responses to thunder – cell phones sounding alarms, blaring messages of flood warnings. It could have been me. It could have been any of us off in those houses in Wimberley. I was shopping cabins on Airbnb only days early. And all of this writ small on my kitchen table: CSA tomatoes and a ladybug. (Earlier this week Julie announced a centipede in the radicchio, the sentence like a secret code.) The earth asserting itself, reminding us we are not separate, we cannot be separate. By morning the bug had crawled to Chris’s side of the table. He picked it up and carried it outside again.

May 28, 2015

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Hanging On Tightly

051915So I find myself on the other side. Weeks of work and travel and endings and goodbyes and then that long day that culminated in a standing ovation for our students who had finally finished, who had done it all and wore caps and gowns and red medals I placed around their necks. It was over. The hugging and the racing and the planning and the doing. At my desk in the next morning I was bleary, puttering through simple tasks, talking nonsense with Amelia as we struggled to stay in the office long enough to look respectable. And then I headed home. By the mailbox, gulf fritillaries hovered near the Gregg’s mist. The air was thick, the winds gusty with another storm blowing in. And yet this butterfly landed on the lavender flower and stayed. And then, when it had its fill, it fluttered away.

May 19, 2015

Past Due Praise Songs

050115We meant to solarize the garden. We meant to spread the bag of mulch that is now split open and disintegrating into soil. We meant to plant the trumpet vine that with all the rain it didn’t get might have climbed the fence and burst into bloom. Oh, intentions. Oh, grand ideas. I meant to write 30 praise songs for the month of April, to sing and sing about the large and the small, about my life and other lives. Instead the month hit me with a headache that lasted for weeks, with doctors’ visits and house guests — each worthy of its own praise song — and the poetry contest that wouldn’t quit. We meant to keep water in the birdbath so that the fat pigeon that alighted this morning would have something to drink. Instead it investigated and flew away. Spring, my favorite season, came on headstrong and insistent this year, rain and sun and everything racing to outpace each other. My head said slow. My head said calm. And it kept coming — the garden and the birdbath and the songs I didn’t find the time to sing.

May 1, 2015

Praise Song: Getting Through a Hard Week

It’s true, each day I found something to praise. The focus of students writing around a table, the sweetness of the restaurant where we held our rehearsal dinner almost seven years ago. Amid an endless headache and doctors’ appointments and traffic that didn’t want to release me from its hold, I snapped pictures of the CSA baskets and the dinner I came home to and kitchen shears on a wrinkled towel that deserve a song for the satisfying snip that they make. I found what was tender and worthy in a week that tested me. So praise the practice of praising, even when it’s hard. Praise three meals a day and a husband and friends who look after me. Praise three years of Amelia at Free Minds and how proudly the writers read their work on Tuesday night. Praise a headache subsiding and a blog still alive and how I took those kitchen shears to the garden, Saturday afternoon, and clipped a small bouquet for the kitchen.

April 18, 2015

All the Optimism of Early March

030715Freshly painted front door. New green chairs on the porch, assembled with ratchet and allen wrench in the living room as February departed. Pots of artemisia and cedar sage, tropical milkweed and plumbago, rolled in the grass until the roots loosen. Move the salvia greggi to a sunnier spot. Separate the manfreda. Water in the blackfoot daisies. Right now it’s easy to believe that everything will grow — drought and fierce sun and mosquitoes, so many mosquitoes, too far away to seem real. I get Chris and his torn jeans into the yard. We lift and dig and pat the soil. And then the following morning, as if I willed it myself, the rain arrives.

March 7, 2015

A Happy Place

030615“Don’t you want to marry them all?” asked my friend years ago when we went out to shop at the Natural Gardener. She was referring to the employees, gentle and knowledgable and sporting braids and dirty hands. In the garden, collards grew massive. Caterpillars downed fronds of fennels exactly as they were supposed to. A donkey brayed — how often do I get to use the word bray? — and vines climbed fences. Rosemary was forever tumbling over a wall. When I come here I think anything is possible. Tomato starts will yield perfect fruit, native sage shoot red blooms toward the sky. And it’s true that the lacebark elm we planted in memory of George and Sylvia a decade ago is shades the front yard. Yes, I want to marry them all.

March 6, 2015

Season Opener

021615Spring comes to Texas sooner than we planned, each and every year. Before we know it, the leaves will be back on the trees, the blue bonnets blanketing the medians, the SXSW crowds arriving with their skinny jeans and plaid shirts. First, the old is cleared away. I admit it wasn’t us who cut back the dead branches, bagged up the soggy leaves. But when it was done, the deep brown mulch spread across the beds, I started planning for the new season. Another cenizo sage? More banks of four-nerve daisies? Will this be the year I plant tomatoes again?

February 16, 2015