mountain (beth)


“Lilacs on a bush are better than orchids. And dandelions and devil grass are better! Why? Because they bend you over and turn you away from all the people in the town for a little while and sweat you and get you down where you remember you got a nose again. And when you’re all to yourself that way, you’re really proud of yourself for a little while; you get to thinking things through, alone. Gardening is the handiest excuse for being a philosopher. ~from Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine

Treasures I found while planting bulbs today~

three small abandoned shells

tiny dried flower buds

a perfectly preserved bumble bee

a little bird’s nest

a large mud-sculpted bird’s nest

a potato-shaped rock

I’ve been putting it off, but today was the day to get the rest of the bulbs in the ground. In a fit of optimism, I’d ordered 100 daffodil bulbs, knowing that this was the ultimate gift to my future self, even more than my daily flossing. But sadly, that meant someone needed to get out the tool and dig 100 small holes, no one in the house could be swayed, or even bribed, it seems.

So a few weekends ago, while M was grilling, I put in a few tulips in the backyard. And then I slowly made my way around to the front where I did a few more bulbs. Last weekend was more and today was almost all of them. Then I accidentally bought a few extra tulips while I was getting treats for work on Friday. Tulips don’t do as well here, but I still have hope. At the other house tulips were fine. Here though, they seem prey to creatures in need of a snack, and nothing hurts worse than seeing some green poke through the snow and then finally make its way to being a bud and then it gets ripped off before it can open. The last time that happened, earlier this year, it gutted me. This has been a year of tiny-but-fierce losses.

I don’t know why, but putting these bulbs in felt like a chore, one I didn’t want to do. I even talked to myself, saying “Just do 10 and see where that leads.” This is my method for everything, just do a few. Toe touches, dirty dishes in the sink, sentences for the blog…

It’s like I need to be coaxed to do anything. I don’t know if it’s always been this way. And yet once I actually start the thing then I am fine, it’s the starting that flummoxes me.

Today I dug out and cut down twisty vines. I put my hands in the dirt and felt myself heal a little. There are too many metaphors, but maybe that’s why they are so obvious, because they are true. My body is tired and achy. I put in the effort and maybe next spring I’ll think back to this strange time and be glad that I did.

A few weeks ago, for our “vacation,” we drove for the day to the beach in New Hampshire. It wasn’t the Cape, but it was what we could do. It was cold, but I sat bundled on the beach, still wearing my mask. And I felt like Benjamin Button’s dad from the movie when he sits and looks at the water before he dies. I knew that wasn’t me, but in some way it was. I was asking the ocean to heal me like always. Only this time it doesn’t seem to be working.

But the dirt, that is helping. Spending time with my plants on Sundays. Getting excited to have won a plant lottery for a seedling ready to be on its own. I almost don’t recognize myself. For all these years I have looked forward to our time at the ocean. My breath slows when I set foot on the shore. The waves reset my equilibrium. And if anyone ever asked me, the sea was always my answer to most wished for destination. But now I find that the earth is offering itself in a way I had never noticed before.

My new at-home uniform seems to consist of wearing tennis shoes and overalls, I might as well be my 12 year old self again. Today “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” popped into my head and I hadn’t thought about that song in ages. How he gets to the top and sees, the way we sang it, the kids in our town. Being up high gives you such a panoramic view. And maybe we’ll do that soon. I’m thinking that might be our special Thanksgiving activity for the day. If the weather cooperates, maybe we’ll go on a family hike, or at least drive to someplace with a spectacular view of the countryside. Of course it will be strange, we won’t be with our extended family. We won’t have several tables topped with food and days of sleeping on top of each other and watching movies all together. The thought of those losses fill me with an exquisite sadness. Maybe we won’t have what we want (the day after Thanksgiving soup or the annual family trip to the beach) but maybe we can find what we need here. Perhaps it just takes some digging down deep to find it.

‘And suddenly everything, absolutely everything, was there.”
― Ray Bradbury, from Dandelion Wine

A, your word for next time is “swift”


3 thoughts on “mountain (beth)

  1. Beth,

    I wanted to fill this square with heart emojis but I could not figure out how to or if it is even possible. So consider this space filled with heart emojis.

  2. Exquisite. I also miss the healing ocean waves. I have put my garden to rest, and the parsley keeps growing and showing green during this cold snap. I love the Thanksgiving hike idea as I was wondering what to do special with a holiday, if not filled with family, usually filled with neighbors and friends. Hiking! Love it. Your words are the beautiful salve I need. Thank you.

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