My neighbor has a yard that is to die for. Everything is just perfect and neat, always trimmed and never a stray limb from a tree to be found. Maintaining his of lush lawn, heavenly perfumed flowers, and graceful shrubbery requires diligence, time and a great deal of physical effort. And it almost killed him, literally. He suffered a heart attack while uprooting a small juniper the other day.
I didn’t know what happened to him until this afternoon when I noticed it was his wife out dead-heading the flowers and pruning a few branches here and there. Normally her husband is out and about doing these tasks while humming some piece of classical music. Naturally I asked after him and she told me he had suffered a massive heart attack while tending to the dying juniper.
Because I wasn’t home I didn’t hear the ambulance come to scoop him up and whisk him away to the hospital. Because I was out the following day I didn’t get a chance for our friendly chats about how the welfare of my plants.
The cardiologist told her that whatever he was doing in the way of yard work had to stop. Gardening should be calming and soothing and yes even healing. The need for perfection and order was creating too much stress, add to the mix heavy manual labor in an older person and, according to the cardiologist, you have all the ingredients for the perfect storm of a health crisis.
My yard is not one to die for. The grass is cut and edged, he flowers are cared for, but not dead-headed. I like the way the branches from my small tree are randomly poking about here and there. In other words I will never win a medal for a perfect oasis of a yard, but I also will get to enjoy my yard without working gardening myself into an early grave. Nature provides her own version of perfection and we have a small agreement about this. Nature agrees to help me with the watering (I’ve been known to forget this stuff) with I keep the lawn cut and let her do her own brand of artistic expression.
So I was having some people over for a meal, nothing formal although given the amount of preparation and planning on my part you’d think it was going to be more formal. I know that my friends weren’t coming over for a five-star meal (woe to any of them that suspected I could pull that off in the first place), but I still wanted to provide a variety of flavors and textures for people to enjoy.
I should point out that I’m not trained as a cook so this is all just crossing of my fingers, hoping and praying it turns out relatively decent. So far this has worked for the most part, although there was the seafood stew disaster, but let’s not go there.
So I visited several different shops, pulled out a million pots and pans (okay not really that many) and cooked. People came over and enjoyed themselves so ago od time was had by all. And the mountain of dishes from all the cooking? They were behind a closed-door in the kitchen so they were easy to ignore while company was over.
After everyone left the dishes could be tackled, cleaned and put away until next time. After I have recovered from this whirlwind of breaking bread with people who matter in my life. Because what’s a few dishes between friends?
The four-footed one is a fan of plush green eggs that squeak with the slightest touch. She will ignore all of her other toys for one of these eggs. I believe half the appeal of these toys are that they fit under chairs and such. She likes to hide her eggs under the chairs and then demand that someone (human) find them for her. Once they have been uncovered she wants to run around the house with an egg in her mouth while said human chases her. She will happily squeak the egg the whole time.
The thing is, this human is not a fan of the plush green eggs. I was at first because they bring her such joy. Alas the whole hunting and chasing not to mention the non-stop squeaking has taken all the fun out of the egg thing for me. I guess this is why we do Easter Egg hunts only once a year!
Perhaps though what is the biggest turn off my four-footed one’s fanaticism when it comes to her egg. The obsession of her’s for all things plush green egg is too much to handle at times. She has, dear finds, crossed the line from fan to that crazed fanatic that we typically see in the sporting world.
To help her overcome this obsession we take the eggs away now and then. (For the record if we don’t take them and put them up high she will spend hours squeaking the, with no regard to human ears.) But the fanatic in her is not so easily subdued. A compulsion, unyielding, sets in and she just continues to seek out her precious eggs.
I suppose there are far worse things for her to be fanatical about. Perhaps if the eggs weren’t so noisy… But the lesson is that anything can become too much, too-consuming so it is important to step back from it now and then.
Sometimes I stand on the shore where the waves can just tease my toes. I know I can’t swim that body of water, it is too vast, too deep and too quick for me to even attempt to try and cross to the other side. I can’t actually see the other side from where I’m standing, I know it exists for I have stood there on the opposite shore as well.
I stand on the shore and watch the water in its ageless movement. Most days it is a gentle, soothing caress with soft waves lapping up on the shore. Some days though the water seems angry and huge waves seem to crash higher up the shoreline than usual. On those days, the days when the water is angry it changes color, or at least appears to. Those are the times I stand further up shore and don’t offer my toes to the water for I know it won’t be the gentle caress of the water’s feathery wet touch that I will be feeling, instead it feels like a hard, cold slap.
Beloved doesn’t understand why I am drawn to watching the waves come in or noting how fast and hit the water seems. To him it is just water, a piece of nature we navigate and nothing more. But to me, whether I stand on shore or slip my kayak into its wet embrace, the water is a living thing with many stories still to be told. That is why I stand on the shore or paddle through its width, to hear the stories from an ageless being which shall remain long after I cease to be. Perhaps one day I shall understand what it is telling me, until then I shall dream along with it.
She said she was tired of pretending that her life could carry-on as normal without him. She said it was too much to try to smile when she was crying on the inside and no one seemed to measure up to him. She said her heart still belonged to him and always would.
I know she cried a river of tears which had flowed into an ocean when they first decided to just get on with their lives. I didn’t think much of more of it over the months since they separated, she seemed to be doing fine. She is one of the strongest women I know and does not give an inch. She is one of the most unyielding women I know when it comes to making a decision and yet here she was telling me that she could no longer pretend that her life was okay and that she had moved on from him.
A part of me wanted to remind her how he had left her hanging while he was out in the wind. I wanted to point out how many times he went to chase something that caught his eye while she waited for him. I wanted to remind her that saying no was best thing should could have done where he was concerned, but I remember the way she always looked at him. The way she looked now when she talked about him.
So when she told me what she wanted, that she was going to track him down again, I told her that I that if it made her happy or provided her with some sort of resolution than it was surely the right decision.
I couldn’t answer her question years ago about why she was attracted to a man who was no good for her. I still can’t answer it, nor can I answer why he is the one who makes her smile and makes her look a certain way. I don’t think love is a rational thing and therefore I have no logic to explain it. But I do know what it is to find that person who makes you smile and steals all the space in your heart. Sometimes you can’t explain things, it simply is what it is.
Those of us who can pretend that we don’t love someone or need that someone in our lives are cheating ourselves in some way, but by the same token we have to protect ourselves. Do you take the short whirlwind romance and perhaps the loneliness in the winter nights or do you look for a logical choice?
When I was young I used to catch fireflies in jars. I thought they were the most magical things ever, they were like little flying flashlights. I’d grab some glass jars, ones my mother would never use again for food stuff(typically by the time I got them they had already been used as vases for wildflowers and such instead) and lids in preparation for the hunt.
When the time was just right id head out into the yard and start to capture them in my jars. One bug per jar was my limit and before I caught another I had to secure the one I’d just caught in the jar by screwing the lid on tight. I always imagined lighting up a room with jars of fireflies. In no time I’d have my quota of the bugs flitting around securely in their respective jars.
Inevitably, as if by magic, my father would stop by to see the evening’s catch. (It took me a while to figure out that if he stood at a certain angle at the window he could see when all my jars were filled and nearly on the table outside. When I discovered that the magic seemed to slip away.) And just as inevitable, after commenting on the number I had caught, my father would gently suggest that I release them to go on about their business.
I remember he told me once that all that flashing was their way of communicating to each other and he couldn’t think of a more sad way to die than to be trying to communicate with flashes that none of your own kind were around to see. He also let me know that my glass jars were a prison for the innocent bugs who were suddenly serving an unjust sentence for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Usually my father would help me unscrew each jar and set the fireflies free. He told me that when they were free and flashing around everyone got to enjoy their beauty.
Relationships are sometimes like this, we try to posses or own someone rather than allowing their true beauty to shine rough freely. I was reminded of this again today after hearing stories from young women who were free come a cult like group. And like those fireflies, these young women are finding ways to communicate with others after being hidden away from the world. I hope that these young women, just like the fireflies, make their way into freedoms do shine beautiful for a long time.
A fiend invited me out for coffee to a place she had “just” found. Not a chain coffee place either, just an honest to goodness local cafe which happened to serve French style pastries as well. Who can resist? Certainly not I, and since I was feeling decent-ish there really was no reason not to go.
As we don’t live in the same neighbourhood, my friend and I agreed to meet at the cafe’s parking area so we could do some catching up while walking in. (You might say we have a lot to catch up on!)
An interesting thing happened upon our stepping through the door. The two women working behind the counter called out my friend’s name and said “the usual?” as a cup was already being pulled off the shelf. Interesting in that my friend had just found the place so how could she have a usual? I didn’t say anything, but I raised my eyebrow as my friend said she might in fact be changing up her order. This declaration created a bit of confusion for one of the ladies working behind the counter because she had already grabbed a pastry and put it on a plate.
There is nothing wrong with having a usual. It’s nice to go into places where people know exactly how you like things and see you as more than just an order of coffee. The problem arises when you suddenly want to change up the usual. It alters the easy routine, and can affect the relationship as well.
I’m not sure how many times my friend had been to the cafe to have a usual, but the minute she altered her order it was as if she was a new customer to one of the employees. The light and causal conversation became a little awkward, as if by changing her order my friend had created some type of insult. In the end my friend had her usual to go because she couldn’t resist the pastry or the coffee.
Being a city girl, I have found very few places that I go to frequently enough to even know e names of the employees let alone have a usual. While I relish the relationship my friend seems to have with the employees, I don’t relish the idea of only being a specific order all the time. After all part of the fun is changing things up, which is hard when you have a set usual everyone knows and expects.