Monday, April 3, 2017
Iced Tea Chat
Yes, it's warmer here now and the pollen is settled enough that we might have tea on the porch if you'd like. Just ignore my mess there. I'm planning to go get flowers for pots later this week. I'd thought it would be easier to work on them if they were all centrally located. And ignore that pile of things there. We're going to be moving the steel cabinet off the back porch. John has decided he could use it as a surface for storing things at the back of his shed where he means to put a concrete pad and a lean to roof. I had hoped when I bought the thing to dress it up in fresh paint and use it as a sort of potting table and storage, too, but it didn't hold up well to the exposure of being outdoors and gradually just began to look hideous. It spoils the ambience of the back porch when it is looking spruce and not piled up as it as at the moment.
If you tiptoe over you can peek at the nest. Yes, the little bird is back to nest there once more. I've no idea why she's so enamored with this back porch. She's had the most rotten sort of luck nesting here but I guess that little bird has a deep faith that at some point she's raising a family here to a successful conclusion. And so the cabinet is empty save that coiled extension cord and her nest. She's used the cord to anchor the nest by the way. I know because when I'd planned to move it, the whole lot shifted and I just gently pushed it back into place and went away. I wasn't sure it was a fresh nest but John told me when he came in that he saw her sitting and said hello to her.
My! Isn't it all so pretty? There's something about the blue of an April sky and the new green of leaves on the trees that simply makes my heart sing. Honestly, it probably is what influenced the blue and green of my main living and dining room a couple of years ago. It makes me feel quite peaceful indoors.
I've just about finished all my indoors deep cleaning work now. There's really only a very few tasks remaining and none of them too tedious. I am glad. I stayed quite busy with the seasonal cleaning this Spring. It's good to have it all done. I shall enjoy it for the rest of this month but come first of May, I'm right back to doing a few tasks here and there each week so that it's not such an overwhelming load come Autumn. This also means that I can now concentrate on the porches and patio. We've a family day at the end of this month and I'd like to have these tasks all done before then. Fortunately, the cleaning part is mostly brooms and soap and water stuff and the planting part is easily done. I'll just save the cleaning part until I'm done with the planting though. I make such a mess when I'm planting pots.
I worked outdoors yesterday morning, too. I had to wait for the sun to be fully up but I was determined to go out while it was cool. I just happen to like to have it light enough to see just exactly what my hand is about to touch when I reach down to weed an area, or pick up a pile of sticks, you know? I mean, 'tis the season for all critters this time of year and I can jump just as high and screech just as much over a cricket or spider as I can over a toad, mouse or snake. I repotted some pansies, moving them all into two central pots where I hope they will thrive for a couple of weeks more. There were several pots meant to be full of pansies for winter where only one or two lingered. I prefer them all grouped together. They have so much more appeal when you see a pot just burgeoning full of blooms.
As I worked in the yard picking up branches and things that were wind pruned or cut by John, I worked up quite a sweat. As I rolled up a pile of branches to pile on top of the huge stack already on the wagon, I thought of Granny. Such work for her was a whistling matter. It's a sound I heard nearly all my life. Granny sang beautifully and sang often, but when she was truly busy working it was whistling that she did. She whistled when she mopped floors and when she washed dishes. She whistled when she was working in her yard, or pulling barbed wire along the fence line. She whistled when she pruned and she whistled when she planted.
I don't have the breath to whistle and work, too, but I do talk to myself. Out loud. A lot. I talk about what I'm doing or thinking of doing. I talk about things that rest heavy or cause me to smile. Yesterday morning, I was talking about how hard John has worked taking on these extra shifts the last two weeks. I talked about Granny and how the work I was doing was just the sort she'd like best. I talked to the fleet rabbit that ran across the yard when Maddie nosed deep into the brush and startled it out of hiding. I talked about plants and plans I have for more yard work.
But I also listened. I listened to the birds singing at the very tops of their lungs and to the cars revving engines over on the dragstrip four miles away. I listened to the hum of an airplane and the hum of a neighbor's mower and the occasional conversation held by someone on the hill across the fields.
The quieter moments, when the dragsters weren't revving their engines, reminded me of how tied I am to this soil through memory. I looked about at what we call the yard and remembered running behind the tractor as Grand Daddy plowed the field. The earth was cold and damp and clumped about our feet so until we could barely move them and we plodded along instead of running. I recalled that we spent far more time outdoors than in when we were here, playing in the bottom where my brother built his house, wading in the creek, shooting the Indian cows, or playing house among the tree roots and copses of trees.
I thought of Sunday mornings when we'd arrive at Granny's for dinner prior to third Sunday afternoon church services. The screen door was all that was between her and the world unless it was bitter cold. The tiny kitchen was filled with warmth and the aroma of frying chicken. There was a plum tree in the corner of the house ell and we would climb up it and sit in a row on the branch that allowed us the view of the kitchen. It must have been a very sturdy old tree, because it wasn't uncommon for us to sit in a row upon that branch, at three or four at a time.
I've said before Granny's home was never fine. It was pretty much the same house from my earliest memory until the last. It was simple. A living room, two bedrooms on either side of a kitchen and dining area that also served as the laundry room. There was a simple bathroom, and her "second" bathroom for many years was an outhouse which was put to good use when all seven of us grandchildren came to visit. She had a tiny front porch, a side porch and back porch where most people entered.
It wasn't a fine house, but it encompassed a peace and a tranquility that we craved and sought as often as we were allowed. It was her own home, upon which she owed nothing. Maybe that was part of her peace. I can say most assuredly that having my own home debt free has certainly added to my peace.
She'd surrounded it with plants and trees and shrubs that were mostly pass along plants. She could name where each one came from and it wasn't uncommon to hear that Mrs. English's pearl tree had bloomed or the Woodbine from Aunt Mattie had grown three feet this year. Mrs. Butler's iris and Mrs. Windham's English Dogwood...That was what we called the things in her yard and very few of the plants there didn't have a person's name attached so it's not at all surprising that when she bought an Abe Lincoln rosebush it was years before I realized that it wasn't actually Abe Lincoln's!
I was happy yesterday working in the yard but this morning as I dumped old soil from the pots and sifted out roots and mixed the lot together in a big trash bin, my thoughts weren't happy ones. One of my little grandsons is terribly ill at the moment. He has an infection, in his hip bones. It was first thought it was bacterial but it proved to be a viral condition which is much less worrisome than previously thought. I hadn't heard from his dad when I was working in the dirt this morning.
But it wasn't all about Zach, much as that is enough to worry over. No, there's a big heartache situation in our immediate family that has been ongoing for years really but got very ugly about two years ago and hasn't let up in the least in all that time. I don't understand the thinking of the two involved in the situation and I don't understand either point of view. It's one of those things that I can't share here because it's private but also because it's all so unbelievable that I've only told a mere handful outside of the very immediate family and then only because I needed a safe place to vent my worries and frustrations and fears. Their horrified, stunned reaction was such that I've been mostly silent on the matter since.
It's a matter that is so bad, John and I do not discuss it between ourselves because it's so painful and frankly we differ in our views. He believes, truly, that every one is redeemable. I am a sceptic. For all my optimism and my Pollyanna-ish thinking, this is one situation where I see only disaster ahead. I do not believe that the nature of either person involved has changed in the least and I do not believe they can continue in this path without coming to a horrible end.
There's a new twist in the sorry saga of it all and I am just flabbergasted. And so John and I differ in our viewpoints and we stay quiet on the matter for the most part until we're hit with another stunning wave of revelation that causes us to speak momentarily about the matter, as we did yesterday briefly and today not a word. Really there's no reason to talk it over. The truth is we neither of us have any influence on the situation and try as we might to reason with the one person we have contact with in this matter, nothing changes.
It's hard, very hard, to carry a matter that's difficult and that is beyond understanding. It's hard not to ask God "Why?" or "When?" in places like this. It's hard not to tell God how it should be resolved. It's hard to say I have faith in God's ability to change hearts when I've seen how stubborn people can be about generating the change. It's hard to keep saying "But I trust You," when things look so terribly impossible from this side. It's hard to admit to God that one outcome appears better than another because it limits the unpleasantness I might experience when there are so many others whose lives are involved and are being hurt enough at present but could be hurt more by the outcome I feel is best. It's selfish of me and I feel shame over it. I'm weary of it and so I want it done. That makes me look long and hard at myself and not in a pleasant way. And it's hard to see evil prosper and continue to do so without any seeming repercussions at all other than to continue along the evil way.
And yet, I recall that while in sin, I prospered in many ways. I went along without repercussions and God kept giving me opportunities to repent, to turn from that place of sin. I didn't deserve forgiveness nor grace. I didn't deserve the goodness of God. When I've worked through all the rest of it, from my frustrations to my anger at the mess and at the people involved, when I've worked through my own selfishness, I come to this humbling place on my journey about the mountain over and over again. If only I could stay here and wait for God to extend that same grace until it's accepted. If only I could be steadfast in my faith in Him! Yet, I have not been in all this time. I confess that even now, as I've written this in full understanding, something in my rises up with dread inside that the outcome will not be pleasant. Is this just my humanness? Can I overcome that? Is the struggle really with what I see as evil or is within myself?
So you see, my thoughts were heavy and dark like the soil I was working with this morning and the mess created in that work was as real as the mess I dealt with in my mind. Life is messy. We can clean up as often as we like, but at some point it's messy once again. Yet that dark heavy soil has purpose. I filled a pot and planted the herbs I'd bought the other day. Without that messy dirt those plants wouldn't survive. They'd have no place to settle their roots and build a foundation for life. They'd die without that dirt. It's not all they require but it's the means of transportation for all they need. They'd have nothing to hold moisture or provide nutrients. I don't understand the purpose of the dirt that's mine to deal with at the moment. Pray God that what comes of this messy dark soil I'm dealing with is life to me and mine!
Oh Gracious! Grab your cups and run into the house girls! I've no idea where all this rain is coming from, but we sure don't need to be here on the porch. I'm glad to see it though, I have no desire to have a dry spring, as that generally leads to a dryer summer and autumn, as well.
I do realize this is short, but the weather appears to be getting rough, so I'm going to bid you all goodbye for now. Talk to you later.