I don’t know why but I feel happy again. This morning. I did not sit in the chair by the red Chinese lamp brooding. Staring out the window missing the massive Elms that used to rise up in the air like bedraggled ghosts of forgotten Kings. Their branches like fingers, raised high almost screaming. Begging. Total supplication to God in heaven, to blue skies gone, to the blinding neon sun that is always seething.
I woke up like I always do, full of the same worries and sorrows, but today there was something stirring. Even though the waters are still gushing and all the massive snow is melting from dirty mountains along the sullen streets and sidewalks. The weather still erratic like a schizophrenic psychopath.
There was a calm and steady presence in my house. My heart. The sun was shining, melting everything too soon in dirty greys and yellows, but wonderful and good somehow. That little shrub I planted in the garden…. so quickly and so late– I found myself staring at it all morning long, as though it was even now growing, somehow healing the scalded streets, the cracked sidewalks, taking up all the drenching rain into small and slender roots, healing my broken heart, even all my secret aches and pains. Secret even to myself.
I neglected doctor’s orders, tore up the healthy morning list, and scrambled three eggs. With green onions, tomatoes, and the wrong kind of cheese: Parmesan. It had a milky nutty far away smell like a sad cow, and yet I was so very pleased with these slow cooking silky scrambled eggs. I put a piece of bread in the toaster that was making a rather squeaking noise, and feared a mouse would pop out like years ago when my mother put in a piece of bread and out came a tiny, charred, once living thing. It seemed a bit funny not sad. How life can make toast from a mouse. I am sorry little mouse for your pain. Hope it was quick and I promise I will never forget you again.
The sun then, it was shining in such a very different way. It didn’t illuminate every speck of lint, dirt, dust, that the broom and vacuum missed, but warmed the house somehow in a golden way like the Wisconsin woods on a late September day. There was a tiny bit of honey left that you gave me from your bees, and I put it on the toast.
It was late, very late when we came to your old stone house last year surrounded by the meadows and the wood. A very cold and almost somber October day. And now, that tiny bit of honey on the bread tasted like your meadow-sweet, your snapdragons, hyssop and milkweeds, sunflowers and lavenders, pink and white phloxes. Your trees even, the almost soft, weathered ancient bark, that we wrapped ourselves around that misty autumn afternoon. The acorns and the leaves, the half-eaten hickory nuts lying on the damp grass. The leaves and wisps of tiny things like cotton falling on our heads and shoulders, almost burying our sodden feet. I even tasted the summer roses from your Middle Eastern sweets. The champagne that we drank from your mother’s elegant glasses, the milky blue bowls you gave us from a dead artist’s box of everlasting wishes…
The snow in the back yard is still so heavy and white and I am afraid again….for the melting floods that will come inside. In front there is a wide swath of green where the sump pump has been pouring out buckets of water every five minutes as though from torrential summer storms. From another city another time another place. And then suddenly I’m happy again. Not worried about drowning anymore.
I have been in and out of water for twenty years, seen it gushing from the basements, the ceilings, the floors and walls, the gardens and sidewalks.. seen it burst forth in fury, gush and freeze and gurgle and melt and freeze again. I have seen my lawn turn into ponds with happy startled ducks and geese and felt my frightened feet running back inside the house again. The water that pours on and on… with no beginning and no end… But one day it will stop forever, so suddenly, and you will mourn it like your dead mother your long lost father, your dying friends.
Still I’m happy. The breakfast now a memory, and the chest pains coming from the over indulgence of butter, eggs and cream, the sharp acidity of the tomatoes. I still taste the frizzled onion chars on my tongue. Oh when will I learn not to eat so much again. Never, never will I stop the butter and cream, potatoes and milk, puddings and mousses, the tapiocas my darling friend so loved, filled with cherries and chocolate curls, layered with hand beaten custards thick and clotted, delicate yellow, like buttercups growing in the Cotswolds stream. I will stave off heart attack and gout, stomach pains, ulcers, the cancers and tumors…
I will have good bones, I will have a happy paunch, a rosy glow in my cheeks like the cherries in grandmother’s basement jars, the fruit a reminder of summers long gone…But maybe they will come again.
I will savour the taste of honey from your garden, from flowers secretly starting to bloom again. Your trees will be getting taller and stronger, and maybe I will throw my arms around them once more.
But I must wait, wait just a little while longer for February to slither by. Such an evil little snaky month it is. And then March. My own Ides of March will terrorize me, that I know…. Again… like it has for so many years. Oh March come quick come quick and then begone again! Forget your torrential rains and winds, your cold damp terrors of the mind and heart, your early morning floggings and lashings.
Oh my legs are so wobbly like an old sailor waiting to see the shore again…
Oh March be gone. Bring the flowers… the snow drops, crocuses, narcissus. And then the dark blue Hyacinths, so deep so dark so startling, coming up from the mediocre grass. They are triumphant somehow like foreign Kings and Queens heralding in a new reign, or revealing once again what we all knew before. Their perfume wafting like the incense before Cleopatra’s frozen tomb, beckoning me with a wave of fragrance to my own waiting door.
And then how quickly the happiness that was so happy can be gone. In one instant the season changed as I walked from one room to the next. A simple conversation with a person, perhaps a mother father brother sister or just some distant friend, can suddenly erase all happiness. All the calm.
I walked over to the window my eyes no longer happy with the water, sky or sun and there I saw a little thing lying on my windowsill. A dead Yellowjacket. My new best friend. Just lying there stiller than still. It looked like gold dust, ancient pollen, pulverized butterflies and moths. Was caught unawares sometime in September or that one warm day in October… flying into the window and landing on the sill. There it was, quietly dying all winter long and I did not know. Such a neat and pretty, filamented tiny tiger thing, looming bigger than life to my tired eyes….. Lying in state like a dead soldier. Its six gold dust legs crossed over as though in prayer. Meditation. Contemplation. So almost sweetly, tenderly, lying there and waiting.
Like the mouse the toast the little wasp, like the eggs and cream, and now the eggshells lying empty in the bottom of the trash can. All of us waiting. Just waiting to be born again.