All I Need Is All I Have

Cooler air this morning heralds not the arrival of fall but its impending arrival.

A house undergoing renovation still wears a white-on-white wicker porch swing. Twisted balusters and the siding – with the rounded bottom edge traditional to original houses in this neighborhood – gently flake milk-white paint. Whorls of bare wood, its DNA, peek through a foamy veil.

Out front, a limb of a century-old live oak reaches out to cradle the air above the street, graceful as a dancer’s arm.

On the next street over, on my way home, a Red Bird of Paradise bush, its blossoms aflame, claims my attention and I stop for a moment, paying homage.

All I have is all I need.

To a friend, also in mourning

From the depths of my grief, I can only imagine yours. Lives so deeply entwined suddenly ripped asunder. I sleepwalk through my days, alternately numb and racked with pain. But I create for myself small joys, like fresh flowers in my bathroom. A small cap worn rakishly askew on my head.

So I think it is with you.

I make the drinks you post the recipes for and listen to the music you mention. I read “Consolations.” Then I cry as friends hold me in their arms.

So I hope it is with you.

I wear a bright color on my toenails – one I would NEVER would have chosen “before” – so that I smile when I catch a glimpse of them. I make a list of things that make me happy and choose one whenever I grow too apathetic, too overflowing with sadness.

So I trust it is with you.

I remind myself of the story of the man who has fallen into a deep hole. Someone hears his cries for help and jumps in. “What have you done? Now we’re both down here.” “Yes,” says the second man. “But I’ve been here before and I know the way out.” I’ve been deep in grief before, I remind myself. And I know the way out. It is long and filled with intense suffering. But through is the way out. Through is the way out.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Yesterday I went for a Christmas morning walk. The “kids,” one about to leave his twenties and the other halfway through, could not make it home. COVID restrictions.  I met a couple pushing a stroller and stopped them briefly, learning it was their daughter’s second Christmas.  I talked longer to a neighbor whose two sons, three and five, remind me so much of my own boys at that age.

Those things combined to make me nostalgic. Perhaps empty nest syndrome comes in waves. The first wave when they go away to college. The next when they get jobs and more permanent living arrangements. Home both is and is no longer “home.”

So I set out my mother’s ceramic Santa and decorate the tree with paper ornaments the boys made at preschool.  I make a pot of tea and sit with my memories, both warm and bittersweet.

A Cool, Misty Sunday

The neighborhood air is scented by fresh buds of jasmine. At the plant store, gardenia bushes too have begun to bloom.

Arriving back home, the rose bushes are a riot of blossoms. Maggie, my climber and the one with the strongest perfume, also displays the most vivid color. Deep fuchsia.

After I nestle the lantana into their ceramic pots, I discover that my gardenias, planted last fall, in fact survived February’s hard freeze. Tiny shoots curl at the base of stems turned brown by prolonged cold.

Sometimes new life springs from what appears dead.

Biking in the Rain

It was raining when I set out but I didn’t mind. I was heading home. I’ll dry off and make hot tea, I thought.

Turning to go home the long way around, I caught a whiff of the last few blooms of jasmine.

Drops of water tap my helmet and spatter my glasses. The damp of my dress, the chill of the breeze, and a kind of wild joy just exhilarating enough to occasionally take my breath.

Seen and unseen

Biking home yesterday, I stopped on the side of the road. A chaste tree was in full bloom, purple spires punctuating the greenery. I rubbed a leaf to transfer the spicy fragrance to my fingertips.

A block farther on, I heard the call of a treefrog from a nearby ditch. I spent several minutes, peering into the agae-laced water but could not find the small vocalist.

Before getting back on the bike, I put my fingers to my nose. Alas! The perfume was already gone.

The Rushing of Water

I took my bike ride even later this evening than yesterday. The light had turned blue. The mourning doves had started their calls.

As I rode past a drain, I could hear the rushing of water.

A Storm Blew Through

Two and a half months into the stay-at-home. I’ve been biking every day for a month. Today a heavy rain and strong winds meant I went out in the early evening instead of the afternoon. Twigs and wet leaves litter the ground. Yesterday a hummingbird plant was backlit in the setting sun, a burning bush […]

The Color of a Rose Leaf in Autumn

I went for a walk this morning, the first in a very long time. The air was cool, the sky overcast. A neighbor’s bush had a halo of fire. Farther along, a tree with leaves of yellow had a vine, growing high in the canopy, dripping leaves of dull scarlet. Upon closer inspection, its trunk was scored with shoots climbing and encircling the bark-covered column.

Continuing my walk, I came across a house for sale. White with a gray skirt. And a door the color of butternut squash. Or of a rose leaf in autumn.

Walking in Fog

A bitter cold snap has warmed and now the trees and the end of my block are shrouded in fog. I walk through air that still has a crisp bite. I walk quickly past frost-blackened foliage.  Somewhere a rooster crows and crows again. The Christmas lights have disappeared from my neighbors’ roofline but red velvet bows still dangle, askew, on their fence. I stop at my own fence. An icy coat has melted and left my rose bush aglitter with droplets of water. A frozen rosehip glows like a jewel.