“I heard the sound of thunder. It roared out a warning. Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world.”
Watch the rain from the shelter of your porch with your back yard gone to glittering emerald and, with nothing else to do, think about the blue-eyed son in Bob Dylan’s song and how, if you could access your earliest memory, it would be one of blissful floating.
And even now, even if this deluge should end, you might seek water. Maybe a dappled green pond where the minnows kiss the surface and the frogs swim their version of Potter’s ballet. Where if you stare into the murky depths long enough you, might scry tomorrow in the clouds above-below-in-the-water.
Or a laughing creek, chill mud between the toes, cottonmouths, like flood debris, bouncing with the current, their eyes unblinking and their fangs terrifying. You’re a gypsy or a pirate or any other sort of free spirit who doesn’t wear shoes or pay a cable bill. A lost child in the mermaid lagoon, a freebooter on the Black Pearl’s deck, except for that, of course, you need . . .
An ocean. Endless beckoning of blue, a thousand shades blending and shimmering and dancing all the way to the horizon. Tidewaters like a heartbeat, whoosh and pull never-ever ending, and how could you ever see it and doubt that water is, must be, our very life blood?
Bathe in it, baptize with it, quench your thirst and cool your brow. Die without it.
Watch the rain, the ceaseless, slanting, glittering fall, and try not to think about drowning. ‘What did you see, my blue-eyed son? Oh what did you see, my darling young one?’
Think about the way Noah sailed for forty days and nights and hasn’t it been raining that long now?
Think about tarot and how the cups are the most uplifting cards in the deck; and cups, after all, have everything to do with water. Cups filled to overflowing, cups raised in celebration, cups pressed to waiting lips. Half-empty is only a trick of the light, a misperception, and these showers are only a temporary hitch; maybe, months from now, rain will seem a blessing again.
Watch and think, think and watch. Let the rain tattoo a song into your heart. Tie a ribbon around it and stash it in your ‘dry tomorrow’ folder, where today seems a lifetime ago.
Happiness, I think, must have been hard-won during the Great Depression. My grandmother planted flowers. Not just a daisy here or there, but a glut of them. Row upon row of iris, tulips, gladioli. Peony bushes so heavy with blossoms they toppled over. Roses climbing trellises, poppies wagging bonneted heads, lilies stooping, sleepy on their long stems.
Of course, of course, a garden! Times were hard, so – tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, carrots, onions. Yes, all that and more, but the flowers . . . the flowers were her happiness, and I love to picture my mom working with her, small girl with straight bangs and a cotton dress, crouched beneath a sun hat, between the pink-lavender-scarlet rows.
My mother left the shelter of the valley when she married – moved up the hill where the weather was in constant, vivid motion, a clean wind endlessly scouring the prairie. She planted flowers. It was harder there, the soil not as amiable to the fickle seeds, but she worked at it. And when the wind caught in the lilacs to push their sweetness through the old farmhouse, it smelled like home in every room.
Of course, it became home.
I was a farmer’s daughter, and more interested in my father’s pursuits than my mother’s. Haying or running a combine made flower-work into child’s play, a triviality. Not until I’d moved away - had my own children, an old station wagon and a plethora of unpaid bills – did I begin to appreciate the tender resilience of women and flowers.
I planted cannas - the largest, brightest variety I could get my hands on. From seeds. My little girl followed with a toy watering can while the baby watched from his playpen beneath the awning, and then we checked on them every day. By the time the new shoots poked through the mud, the homesickness and heartache had subsided a bit. We’d begun to call that alien patch of hard-scrabble yard home.
And the blossoms were glorious, big as a man’s palm and red as clown paint. They nurtured me – dazzled my eyes and fed my soul - until I was strong enough to stand well on my own.
*From left to right: my grandmother, my mother, and my daughter.
Sometimes, a writer just needs to flex her muscles, so to speak. This piece was that opportunity for me. What is the sound of spring? What is the feel of her? I had fun! Shaping words to life is a beautiful pastime. Hope you enjoy!
Out on the prairie, over the hill, Spring screamed herself raw - shrieked like a wild, untamed thing, a banshee - and finally sailed into the valley and set the shutters banging on the close, huddled houses, so that the townspeople roused, checked their weather radios, called the dogs in.
By mid-morning, the sky was purple, and hectic with the energy of a tempestuous child, clouds drifting like bits of ragged gauze - and the windows on the houses stayed closed until the rain had passed.
Then came a noise made up of water-rush and bird calls and breezes pushing old dead leaves aside. A song like an old swing melody picked tenderly on banjo strings. And the people opened windows to listen and . . . there. There was the sound of Spring.
A hundred windows opening at once.
Every door that Winter had closed bursting at the hinges, all the shutters flung wide and every bit of Winter’s trash pushed to the curb. Sadness, anger, darkness, despair balled up like last week’s newspaper and tossed to the wind. Hopelessness, heartache, begone!
Robins tugged at earthworms, children found their ball bats, old men warmed their tired bones on front porch stoops. Firemen washed their trucks, bartenders bought a round for the house, the local priest played hopscotch with the first communicants. And everyone, everyone remembered.
Remembered light and love and happiness.
And the energy of their remembering lifted all that joy upward, and out, and it rained back down on them, benevolent as sunshine, warm enough to bathe in. Because that is, of course, the nature of happiness, and love – it spreads, it gets larger until all the cold gray stuff is gone.
Every window open.
Shutters making a joyful, banging racket in the wind.
Hello, new little writing home! Aren’t you pretty? I feel as though I could sip a cup of coffee and linger here for a bit.
A long and sorrowful autumn has passed since last I tarried in a webpage, and now winter clenches it jaws, shaking the life from us. My dreams have lately been fantastical, afloat in water the color of Curacao, with frog song like the noise of Muddy Waters jamming on the shore. Long walks in pink mist, a big hand cradling mine. In my dreams, I write, and the passage of time never alters this. Miracles and silvery piano chords, tarot cards and chocolate dump cake - all sweep along with the stroke of the pen.
In my waking life, Gentle Reader, I write – and this, too, remains unaltered.
Witness the little girl curled in the leather armchair with a notebook in her lap, lips pursed soundlessly around words she is making her own. The new mother with a baby in the crook of her arm, a pen in her right hand. The cashier who kept a list of her customers idiosyncrasies beneath the counter, the EMT who spilled her sorrows and elations into a journal.
All me. Writing, always writing.
There are worse habits, aren’t there?
But the creative process is like a drug, at once swaddling and unraveling the psyche. Imagine breathing life into a person, a setting, a world, and perhaps you can understand the addiction. For years, sharing such a treasure was unthinkable. My facebook page felt . . . trivial. Twitter? A madhouse. Blogs? Absolutely soul-baring, and that was never, ever what I wanted.
Until people began to respond.
And in turn I realized that I might have something to say, to somebody besides myself.
Publishing a novel was an impossibility until it happened. Until I opened that first box of dreams papered in blue sparkles - and I will tell you now, lovely people, that my little book did exactly as ordered, wending its way into the world and touching a few lives. Lives. So, both larger and smaller than I’d anticipated, but overall, something like August sunshine and hot fudge sundaes, everything good.
And so, I thought that . . . maybe writing isn’t very different from EMS. Maybe it’s the touching of lives that matters most.
Welcome to my webpage! May your journey here be magical!
Importing my blog onto the new website has been quite the feat. My team and I are still in the process of categorizing and fine-tuning the years of posts you'll find here. We hope you enjoy our work-in-progress library. Check back soon for updates!