Saturday, May 29, 2010

I take a walk in the dandelions

Tea does the trick. And Bradbury of course. I love you Ray Bradbury. Later that night I am to make chicken soup from the home-made broth Mom has in the refrigerator. We share delft blue mugs of it when she gets home from work.

The carrots are a bit crunchy, and I don't finish mine. But not because it isn't yummy. I'm just too tired. So I go to bed. And I sleep a very, very long time.

Mom is gone when I wake up on a sunny Friday morning. It is warm for a Washington April and I am thankful. Having made peace with my old house the day before, it is now time to face the outdoors. Walks are good. They are also sometimes irresistible. Growing up in the Northwest was a happy thing. Walks there usually make your shoes dirty and your lungs burn, depending on the season of course. My old house is built on a ridge, Wiser Ridge to be exact, and beyond and below the back yard stretches acres and acres of raspberry fields, cranberry bogs, and sometimes, depending on the year, corn or potato fields. This is where I walk. This is where I have walked for as long as I can remember. There used to be hedges of blackberry brambles high above our heads, and my brothers and sisters and I would pick buckets and buckets of them in August. This morning, the sun, the mysteries of those beautiful acres, the dew-wet grass that will make the bottoms of my jeans all wet, and the dandelions call to me, and I go gladly.

I discover immediately that the neighbors have burned out all the blackberries in sight now, and this makes me sad. Sometimes subduing the earth can go a bit too far. But blackberries are hardy and they'll come back. So will the dandelions.

I find the tenacity of weeds so inspiring. I think they're beautiful.

Grass too. Grass is beautiful. And look at those fluffy seeds. Mom never wanted me to blow them on her lawn when I was little. I think I did anyway.

Oh look, more fluffy seeds! You know, dandelions are like little suns that you can hold in your hands and wear in your hair and rub on your skin. You can even make wine from dandelions. I'm going to try that someday.

And there is nothing, no nothing that goes so well with Converse All-Stars.

I tear myself away from the dandelions on our hill to follow this wagon-track gravel and grass road. If you look carefully, you can see Mt. Baker on the horizon. Can you see him? He's the grandfather mountain. He is beautiful.

This puddle has always been in this exact spot on this road. I have jumped and squished and splattered through it often.

Irrigation ditches. I prefer to think of them as canals. They're too beautiful to be ditches. This wilderness is a patchwork of fields divided by many of these, large, small, bubbling, and green with algae.

If these canals were all connected, I would hire myself a handsome gondolier and go boating every day.

These trees are just over the fence between the network of cranberry bogs and dikes that I am wandering, and a neighboring cow field. They are out of my reach, but they can't escape my eyes. Or my borrowed pink camera. Click.

"'Oh, Trees, Trees, Trees,' said Lucy (though she had not been intending to speak at all). 'Oh, Trees, wake, wake, wake. Don't you remember it? Don't you remember me? Dryads and Hamadryads, come out, come to me.' Though there was not a breath of wind they all stirred about her. The rustling noise of the leaves was almost like words. The nightingale stopped singing as if to listen to it. Lucy felt that at any moment she would begin to understand what the trees were trying to say." --Prince Caspian

Its like a fractal. Maybe not so elaborate as the Mandelbrot Set, but really, trees are like very alive, very beautiful fractals.

I love this pond.

Oh just look at those cattails.

And yes, Washington is the Evergreen State.

A very cheerful old blue barrel. And beyond that: cranberries.

They're so vibrant any time of the year. These fields will be flooded up to the brim with water when its time to harvest.

I turn the bend, and my heart stops. These were planted about ten years ago. I remember when they were too small to see from my house. When they grew big, they were so very tall, and leafy, and rustling. They were in three or four straight rows and to walk under them was like walking in theCathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

I know they were planted to be harvested. And I know that the paper I love writing on has to come from somewhere. And I know that the beavers were getting to a few of them even before I left. But I can't help but be sad whenever trees are cut down.

I was wobbling on an embankment trying to take a picture of this when somebodies nosy llamas took interest in my presence.

I like llamas. I think I'll have some someday. Or maybe alpacas. They say alpacas are even softer.

By the time they got this close, I thought it best to leave unspitted upon.

Look what didn't get chopped down or burned out? Blackberries!

Grow little brambly, wicked vines. Grow with all thy might.

I have done most of my adolescent thinking, praying, running and crying here. This wilderness has seen me barefoot, in running shoes and today, in All-Stars. It has given me quiet and listened to my thoughts, my breathes, my heart beat. I have gone down to this wilderness and God has met me here every time. Every time with something more beautiful to tell me, show me, teach me. He has met me here and walked with me. Because its His wilderness and He loves it, and me.

Next time I'll tell you all about Stella.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ray Bradbury and My Copper Kettle

Having been swooped on and hugged and kissed and swept away by my favorite Mom and equally favorite Auntie Linda (and having once again forgotten the very existence of one pink camera in the confusion), I am thenceforth driven northwards toward my old home town. After a yummy Costco lunch (gotta love Costco frozen yogurt berry sundaes), and lots of chatting, Mom's noble (but slightly less than awesome) Dodge Caravan drops me at the house my Mother shares with my amazing Grandma and sweet Aunt Michele. Mom is only able to take a half day away from work so off she goes and there I am in a very empty, very strange, very familiar daylight basement apartment. I intend to sleep, but I'm far too restless.

In the end I will not sleep that day until every inch of the house is seen, touched, remembered, reconciled with. This is important. Having left it longer than ever before, this house and I have nine months worth of relationship to mend. We have both changed. The house is much more subdued than I remember. It is quiet, it is big, it is white. It is just a little sad.
I do not recognize myself in its bathroom hallway mirror.
I do not see my copper pot on its stove.
I do not find my shoes by its door. I always left shoes by this door.

The real sadness however, comes when I find the courage to climb the two flights of stairs to my old bedroom.
The door still has a penny size hole in one side.
The walls are still that beautiful deep, dark blue that my sister and I painted them years ago.
The carpet is still oatmeal colored and stained and lumpy in places.
The windows are still big with a breath-taking view of Mt. Baker and the sunrise. (Sad to admit, I did not take the picture below.)

But my furniture is gone. The beautiful scrolled, caned, antique bedroom set that I shared with my sister has been moved around the corner, and someone else's bed, someone else's dresser, someone else's armoire has found a home here. I try hard not to cry. But here too I make peace. I thank this room for all it shared with me, and I say goodbye again, for good this time.

Being thoroughly exhausted, I trudge back down the stairs and make a truce with the silent basement. Tea is definitely in order. And one utterly transcendent book by Ray Bradbury that I discovered in my closet upstairs (I feel slightly guilty, having borrowed this book from a dear friend more than a year ago).

Notice I finally remember the little pink camera patiently tucked in my purse. Oh, and look at my Mom's oh-so comforting (if not crackling) fireplace. Mmm...believe me it hits the spot.

Did I mention that I am very, very tired at this point? I thought pajamas and slightly worn fuzzy socks were appropriate for the occasion.

Just so you understand what I mean when I say tea and Ray Bradbury. Oh, and a happy reunion with my favorite teacup. My big sister gave that to me. The shortest of my three big sisters. She's even shorter than me. I love her.

Yes, alright, a little overkill. Never hurt anybody...

I'm done, I promise. Crossing my mental heart at this moment. Do you doubt my mental heart? I don't blame you, I doubt it myself sometimes.

Almost forgot: Being the unfaithful and sporadic-at-best photographer that I am, this is the only picture of my dear copper kettle. Sad day.

Oh beauteous vessel of sanity poured out so faithfully to me time after time, thy shiny loveliness surpasses all of thy companions and I solemnly promise to give thee thy due honor in future. I love thee.