Being twelve, awkward, tender, and wise.

The boy coming toward me in the grocery store aisle was young – perhaps 11 or maybe 12 years old (I’m not terribly good at guessing these things).  He was close  to my own height (so not tall) and had a certain sense of vulnerability about his face and posture.  He was definitely younger than 14 – that time in life that in legal terms is called “tender aged” – a term I’ve always appreciated for its sensitivity to this gentle, unsure, inexperienced, age of being. more “Being twelve, awkward, tender, and wise.”

This time of hope and faith.

The man was a farmer, deep in rural Indiana.  He was physically strong, perhaps due in no small part to the fact that he still plowed and harvested with a team of horses.  He was equally strong in his religious beliefs – so committed, in fact, that after every fall’s harvest, he gave away his team of horses.  He was that convinced of the imminent second coming of Christ.  He was absolutely sure in his heart that God’s love for the world would be manifested in this real, tangible way, before Christmas, certainly before the end of the year.  When, in the following spring, this miracle had not yet happened, he would dutifully buy a new team of horses, and plow and plant another crop.  more “This time of hope and faith.”

The beauty and wisdom of hedgerows.

“God, in his infinite wisdom, created the earth.  Man, in his infinite impatience, has been rearranging it ever since.”

These are the opening words of a video presentation that I wrote for a client more than 40 years ago.  The client was a manufacturer of large earth-moving and construction equipment.  

But suddenly, 40-some years later, the words had jumped up and were poking me in the head again.  I was looking at pictures of hedgerows at the time.  And variations of this theme kept coming to mind. more “The beauty and wisdom of hedgerows.”

Gardening with words.

I always have to stop and consider how to spell the word “spirit.”  There seems to be a conspiracy between the “r” and the “p” and at least one “i” to try and trade places, or want to duplicate themselves far too many times.  But spelling it correctly has become rather important to me just now.  Because I may decide to literally etch it in stone.  Or brick.  Or cement.  Or perhaps wood. more “Gardening with words.”

Leave the edges wild.

“Leave the edges wild.”

I read those words someplace recently.  They aligned absolutely with my heart and soul.  I believe they came from the lyrics of a song.  They do sing in my thoughts.  “Leave the edges wild.”

Perhaps it is because I have been working in my yard so much lately, but “leave the edges wild” certainly seems to apply to my gardening philosophy.  It lets the wild things just be – all vines and moss and dragonflies, bird nests and grasshoppers, worms and clover and roly-poly bugs.  It’s mother nature with torn pockets and messy hair. more “Leave the edges wild.”

Look for the Mockingbirds.

It was just a slight graze – the nose of one car slid across the back bumper of the other car.  No one’s fault more than the other’s.  Just too much traffic.  Too much hurry.  A blind crossing.  In the blinding heat of the summer.  

It happened right behind me, so I saw mostly mirror images of it all.  But I heard the anger as it railed through my open windows.  I felt the fierce and hostile energy as it slammed against my ears and eyes and heart.  Where was the compassion?  I expected more from women.  I always do.  No one asked, “Are you alright?”  No one claimed “I’m sorry.”  Just accusations and assumed righteousness.  And the lone daughter in one of the cars watched.  Her face was twisted, as she watched and listened and learned.

The light changed then, I had to move on.  I couldn’t help, and it made me cry.  Tears as hot and wet as the day.  Sadness for the energy that broke into my heart and crushed down into me.

As I drove slowly forward, my eyes lifted up and caught in the wires and cables over our heads as they carried their own currents of energy and power.  And on the wires perched rows of birds.  Birds watching.  Birds listening.  Mockingbirds. more “Look for the Mockingbirds.”

Trusting Marigolds.

They’re sun yellow and fresh orange and rust red.  And they show their brilliant colors even as they pull their tidy green skirts tightly up around themselves – both when they are shyly beginning to greet the world, and when they are reluctantly leaving it.  

I suspect it’s one of the things I admire most about marigolds.  I can never tell if one of their colorful blooms is just being born or just beginning to die.  They look identical to me.  That’s why I hesitate to pinch them off.  I’m never quite sure if I may be pinching off one that is just getting ready to let the sunshine kiss its face, instead of one that is stepping back from the light, closing itself away to prepare new seeds for the next generation.  more “Trusting Marigolds.”

My Summer of Talking to Foxes.

It was 3:00 a.m.  And it was the third night in a row.  The scream (for there was nothing else to call it) came from nearby, and woke me from a sound sleep again.  It was not human – definitely animal – but not cat or dog or rabbit or bird.  Nothing in pain.  It sounded intentional, yet not frightened or even angry.

It screamed again – long and shrill and primitive.  And it echoed around the hollow stillness of the neighborhood.  Everything else was absolute silence.  My windows were open to the night, but I could see nothing in the moon shadows.  Nothing but the shadows.  

And so, without consideration, compelled by another wild scream, and something more than simple curiosity, something more like instinct, I ran out into the street, without shoes on my feet, but with a flashlight in my hand.

And there she stood.  Not half a block away.  Alone and alert.  A beautiful fox, screaming. more “My Summer of Talking to Foxes.”

Waiting to fly.

Their pitch is loud and quick and insistent.  Their voices tumble together through my door and windows that are open wide to Spring.  Over and over again, their chattering starts suddenly with a burst of excitement, and ends just as suddenly with a sense of secrecy.  They are tiny and newborn and nesting in the far northwest corner of my carport-turned-sitting-porch-called-veranda.  They are Carolina wrens. more “Waiting to fly.”

Oh, wow!

“Oh, wow!” she kept saying, in that breathless sort of wonder that can be heard only in the voice of youth and innocence.  “Oh, wow!” Her tiny nose and hands pressed against one store window and then another.  She pointed to counter after counter filled with candy.  And then several displays of plastic eggs.  And scenes of stuffed bunnies and yellow chicks and woven baskets of every size.  Even a stack of nothing more than colorful socks caused her to express delight.  “Oh, wow!” she said, again and again, as her tiptoes carried her from place to place, store to store, joy to joy.

She is only two-and-a-half years old, perhaps a bit closer to three.  But she is brilliantly new to the world; fresh with quickened senses and anticipation.  Her name is Jane.  And she was visiting my neighbor – her grandmother – just before Easter.  I was delighted when Jane and her mother and grandmother invited me to come with them to explore downtown Aiken for their first time. more “Oh, wow!”