There are times in everyone’s life, I suppose, when bills come due. You wake up and realize that your house is in a three week escrow (yay?), you don’t know where you are going, or what to pack, you discover that your youngest has three doctor appointments in three days, your oldest is driving you bananas with his zest for life, and your husband is leaving town for a few days, you know, to work.
These things happened to me…and I hated everyone’s zest. I had an overwhelming desire to yell “QUIET” and roll myself up into the covers and hope for it all to be fixed by the time I finished my summer hibernation.
Summer is the driest season, and it’s hard to breathe when you’re hot.
Me’n the boys went for a walk at dusk with a crunch and a shuffle of dirty feet and stroller wheels.
The sun was setting but the sunflowers along the slough were so color saturated it hurt to look at them. We picked one, Quinten and I. He chose it, and I pulled it, letting the spiky stem poke my hand a little. Beautiful things can hurt when you feel ugly.
The air smelled like burning hay and Eucalyptus trees, the breeze gently tickled our noses with a smokey mint smell that told us we were in the wide world, not in our living room. You can’t buy a candle that smells like burnt hay and Eucalyptus.
We walked, and worried about getting lost, and so he stopped every sixteen and a half seconds to draw a line in the sand.
“Check”, he would declare, and walk forward for another sixteen and a half seconds before another stop, another line, another check. We collected sticks, and asked a million whys, and we didn’t hurry to our destination. We did make sure to stop, check, and mark the places we had been (we were worried about getting lost you know).
Q saw the bamboo growing wildly along the sandy path and asked where the Panda bears were. It wasn’t the day for Panda bears, but we wished it was.
We talked about water, clean and dirty, and how dogs drink things we can’t. I noticed mud puddles.
Mud puddles are beautiful, especially when they are green with algae, full of quiet, easily missed, life.
The horses snorted at us as we walked to the house, and now that he knew we were not in danger of being lost, Q didn’t want to go inside. He wasn’t ready for the journey with the sticks and the checks, and the mud and the puddles to be over.
I held the sunflower in my hand, with its blinding petals, brighter than the setting sun. I went inside, and bathed my babies.
I pray, and draw a line in the sand. Check. I have been here. I am going to the next place, and on the way I will keep my eyes open for Panda bears and sunflowers, and muddy water full of life. I start to worry about getting lost, I’ll just mark my spot, and breathe the smokey burned air with a touch of mint.