A lightness came as I shook soil out of those sods, thumping them against my spading fork as night fell. Cool of the evening balanced by the heat of work, air still, I wiggled my glove into the pile, grasped a body of dry sod, knocked loose soil down, watched it rain down. Tossed the remaining fibrous roots on the new pile beside the sprawling berry canes, layered in with warm gray-green grass clippings. The mound of soil cone-shaped like an ant hill erupting between concrete slabs. Not an efficient industrial process, hands directly massaging the soil, repetitive small movements, mixing and planting as if in a slow cooker under coals on the beach. When the pile is complete, I’ll moisten it, cover with a tarp and let it cook down to a rich mixture that will heal the place where the earth moving equipment gouged the back of the garden last year, shattering the orderly structure of the soil and bringing concrete-like subsoil to the surface. Now rocky and almost impenetrable, it will be transformed into something soft and earthwormy, ready for seeding.
Today my husband and I cleared away some of the chaos if the patio–the pile of old door frames split into kindling, chunks of this years’ cherry tree and last years’ birch and gum tree, toy swords of wood, PVC pipe, and duct tape, plant flats, tools, and ongoing wood finishing projects. My daughter swept the surface clean and helped put up the big rust red canopy bought on sale last fall. Now we have a refuge from summer heat raining from the open sky and bouncing up from the concrete. The neighbors’ cedars, willows and grapevines are framed into view from what feels like a special room now inviting us to sit and visit, read, take a break. Turned a corner for me in my desire to make this place more of a home, a welcoming place not always under construction and in transition. Now to complete the sanding and finishing of the outdoor furniture, maybe add some mini lights to the canopy rafters, and what might come to pass here, sun or rain. Let your little light shine.
My husband and I reopened a dialogue the other day about my writing habit, in which I tried to explain why it was not a “hobby.” I might have time for it now, he said, but would I be able to fit it in when I went back to teach, when my duties would have to be more tightly scheduled and excesses culled? For once I stayed calm about it instead of turning inward, stayed realistic instead of taking offense, accepting the fact that we do have a hard time understanding one another, we humans, despite the things we share in common, how intimate we may be in some ways, we are always in a sense on the outside looking in, so no sense taking it personally. Since he’d asked a fair question, he deserved a fair answer. I answered over several days, will still be answering, since it’s not easy to explain, and I have to check my thinking for selfishness, defensiveness, snobbery, impracticality, elitism, and so on.
I said I write to understand and process–can’t do without it when I have important questions or am troubled. I said I write to create, it’s human nature, image of the Creator, and everyone has to discover their channels for that. I said I write to unwind, to relax, for enjoyment, and that’s important for everyone. I said I write to grow–have to keep challenging myself, accepting challenges from others, getting better if I can, asking questions, finding out what other people think and have experienced. I said I write to be useful–maybe I can help someone else, clarify, get at something others can’t see, connect in a meaningful way. By the way,thanks for reading this, for caring. I write because you are there.