Maybe today is a pocket of peace, a yellow balloon of space right here in the center of my throat. I don't know where to begin, so I speak easy to myself, just continue. Just, continue. You are again, and again is good. I think of words and they scramble themselves along the path of my arms, trying to work out of my fingertips. And, my hands ache; they do. I feel like I have word splinters jammed up, between my wrists and elbows, deeply buried in the tendons and joints. Long words that ache me because there just isn't anymore room in me to hold them.
It's time to speak again. To whittle out a hole, if need be, in the center of my neck to breathe deep.
I wish it was afternoon, and I was still wondering around my garden, poking my brown face into the plant face of Goldenrod, sticking my nose up towards the swimming clouds. There was a moment, while I was squatting down in one of the beds studying the newly sprouted seedlings, looking for mustard sprouts that come like clockwork, when a whiff of something sweet came down the blowing path of wind. At once it was sweetish, like vanilla and honey, feminine and earthy like something I can't explain. Not like the smell of soil after rain, or even the smell of freshly turned soil. Not at all earthy like leaves, like bark, like grass. It licked me with a humid, warm and musky scent. Right there I felt grounded and so sure of myself; nothing was moving too fast and not a thing too slow. I felt like life, like I was cocooned, dressed, and adorned in my own skin.
It blew over, and just as soon I was back on my knees, staring down the Goldenrod. I gently separated the green leaf tops, looking for any flower buds. Last year it put out bunches of flowers, yet I was too chicken to harvest them. I have this thing with saving, hoarding things I love. It was easier to stare at their heavy yellow tops flopping to the side from the garden window than to clip them, and have them be gone.
You have to know something, I've been a neglectful gardener the past year or so, and I oscillate between feeling underserving and guilty for the faithful plants that live despite my care and keeping. And then I think me silly. What of me does nature need to get on with her business of life? We, here in California, have been living through an epic drought and years of unnatural, unseasonable warm winters. I do have a part, work to do, and I'm working on forgiving and giving myself grace for not doing it. Not because nature needs me, but because I need nature and I've set that needing part of me aside.
Eventually, I worked myself around to my fig trees, where I went about studying the Kadota fig. For a young plant it's full of fruit, and I believe it's a bit late going in the season for them to ripen. Gently, I squeezed the fruits, lifted them slightly from the stem, checking to see if they were soft, or if they were leaking any sugar, and then the sweet musk returned.
Figs. Of course. How could I forget the smell of fresh figs?
Our first home had a fig tree that grew wild on the side of the house, near the kitchen. It would die down to nothing in winter, and by summer's end it would be taller than our small one-story. During Yali's first summer, I remember standing at the kitchen sink, with the window open, and getting scent drunk. I didn't have the courage, Edward either, to eat the figs then, it was too exotic of a fruit for us.
But, we've grown. Figs have become a favorite, a staple even.
And that's the thing I'm most struck with this evening. Growth. How we all need some space around us to settle down into who we are. Time, too. We all need days, many days to pass underneath our feet, to dawn over our heads for us to gather ourselves.
I believe I've finally started to settle. I find myself more frustrated when I abandon my true self than trying to fit myself into shapes I don't belong. That's what's on my mind a lot these days. Where have I left myself? Where do I need to gather my truth, and what do I need to leave?
The garden reminded me today it's okay to be a simple, domestic woman concerned with seedlings sprouting, watching Blue Diamond Lizards and Finches scramble around. I'm all too aware of the turmoil and pain engulfing our nation, but choosing resilient peace and faith is my protest, my political party; my optimism is my march.
You know, the garden is faithful and honest in her ways. She is a natural protest, a march against destruction and pessimism. She doesn't condone or uphold guilt, or even self-doubt. She hands out faith and grace, with the way she gets on with her life, making sense, each season out of what is today. What lives grows.
I'd like to keep reminding myself of that. Live to grow. Faith and grace and forgive. I'd like to write towards that idea of what lives grows. Inch myself closer to growing out of life. It's a matter of being at ease in how I choose to grow, what shapes I allow myself to fit into.
I choose the simple, the domestic, the garden, the work of kitchens and slow things like growing food, spinning yarn, weaving, scratch cooking, and working years to find the right words. Something always calls me home, where daydreams are safe and I have hours to pray without ceasing.
Tonight the words throb my arms, my hands, and fingers like splinters. Garden work aches my back and kitchen work fills my belly. It is the most simple of days that teach me about peace. And so I protest, and march on in joy.