It’s a rare sunny day in February. I’m sitting out here on my deck – a cup of hot tea and my little dog beside me. An older gentleman, he has not been feeling very well lately. I’m hoping the sun on his skin, the sounds of birds in the trees and the light breeze which keeps his nose twitching will be a tonic to him – as it is to me.
I’ll probably be scraping ice off my windshield before heading into work Tuesday, but right now it sure feels like spring! The inconsistent weather here in Tidewater has confused my daffodils into blooming and I’m almost tempted to plow up a piece of ground and plant something. Maybe peas.
Yet, I know that each year has a pattern to follow and the seasons cannot be rushed. Spring will always follow Winter. This is the time of year when gardeners pore over seed catalogs and “plant on paper”. You may have noticed that our winters seem milder lately? That idea can now be confirmed. The color-coded map of planting zones has been updated by the United States Department of Agriculture.
It shows milder temperatures overall and has placed some areas of the United States in warmer zones. I’d say that is proof positive that our climate is changing, wouldn’t you? Someone should tell Rick Santorum.
However, right now I’m not too concerned about global changes . I’m concentrating on the changes in my life. I have a daughter who is about to give birth,:-) a son-in-law who will be leaving soon on a 6-month cruise with the U.S. Navy, a husband who is facing surgery with a long recovery time, and a little dog who is (I fear) dying. I’m focused locally. Winter, for me, may continue a while longer – though the sun will shine in places.
Life, I’ve found, is the ultimate recycle. Everything we experience as a child, we view again through adult eyes when we have children of our own. Life began before we arrived, but it also stretches out in front of us to a place and time we will never see. Yet, the path is not a straight line. It is a twisting road that doubles back on itself unexpectedly.
I have a clear, happy memory of sitting on my Mammaw’s back porch in Texas shelling black-eyed peas. She was sitting in a chair with a bowl in her lap, and I was at her feet with my own little bowl “helping”. I was about five. I recall looking out over the back yard at the clothes hung on the line and the chickens scratching in the grass for bugs. I could see the two tall pine trees in the middle of the fenced cow pasture beyond. Those trees were the boundary I was not allowed to go past. Which was okay with me, because they were so far away that when I was walking toward them, I had to turn around and look back at the house to make sure I could still see it.
When I was seven, my family moved to Utah and I only got to see my Mammaw on summer vacations. The trees got closer and closer to the house each year.
Later, after my Mammaw died and my parents retired, they bought her place from the other siblings and moved back there. They raised chickens and had a garden. When we visited them on summer vacations, our daughter gathered eggs with my Mother and we all shelled black-eyed peas on the back porch.
My father, by that time, had difficulty walking and so had a golf cart that he would load with fishing gear and take my daughter to the pond behind the two tall pine trees. He stocked the pond with catfish and went out there every day to feed them bread. To catch one, all my daughter had to do was bait her hook with bread.
My daughter is grown and my parents are both dead now. The property in Texas has passed out of our family. I have a house here in Virginia with a deck overlooking the garden and the barn beyond it. No chickens – yet. But, I expect in about four or five years to be shelling peas with my granddaughter and I’ll tell her not to go beyond the apple tree unless she is going to the lake behind the barn to fish with Grandpa (my husband).
My Mammaw never imagined her daughter (my mother) would move away to Utah to raise her family. She never knew my mother would return home to live out her life in the place she started from. My Mother never imagined I’d move to Virginia and live my life here. And, because my son-in-law is in the Navy, I don’t know how long my daughter and their future child will be here near us. And, I certainly have no idea where this little granddaughter will wind up, or what her life will be.
All I can do is hope that one day she will look back at her childhood and have some clear, happy memory she shared with me…even if it’s only shelling peas. Her life will go forward and my life will be part of the past. She will, of course, have no memory of my Mother or of my Mammaw. Those stories will end with me. Though she will never know them, they existed and were important —and I have to believe that something of them remains somewhere.
And, blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There’s far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life.”