The Story’s Beginning. Perhaps

(From tbd, “Fifty-Six,” July 15, 2021)

“I stand here, lost in my thoughts. One would think I should be ‘over it’ already. Why must I think all the time? I ask myself. The difference at my age is I no longer fight it. I also do not lapse into a numbness. My thoughts and feelings no longer overtake my work. I function. I smile at the years which carved that nonsense out of me.

And I watch my hands. I feel the potting soil, so even, soft and warm. This morning I removed my gloves just for this moment. Usually I protect my manicured hands, but today I feel the soil. Such days are more and more often. I look at the line-up to be potted. Geraniums, ivies, wandering Jews, a purplely thick dancing type little flower and a new one, the ‘Dragon’s Breath.’

At my feet, I line up new rose bushes and tiger lilies to add in the yard. And the usual annuals for pots to sit the yard, the begonias and petunias which soften my little slice of heaven in these north woods of Wisconsin.

I have the luxury of time to work with my flowers. Many years I would rush to get flowers prepared. Or, in many years, I had multiple properties to adorn with summertime flowers. In true Goldilocks fashion, this building and this home were just right. They were enough.

Oh, and the flowers which help to mark my fathers grave.

I notice I enjoy the heat like I never had before. It’s a sure sign of aging, I surmise privately. Even though it’s July, I still add flowers to my summer collection. From my porting workbench, I size up the effects of the flowering plants. The house siding is a thin lap, vinyl, sturdy-sort, colored in a tasteful beige with darker tones of clay for soffits and edging. The property is a lovely, half acre opening, surrounded by acres of thick woods of tall pines filled with an undergrowth of six year old poplars.

And honeysuckles. Too many honeysuckles.

Oh yes, and the outline of wild raspberry bushes which cause me to keep an eye opened for the occasional black bear visitor.

“Mm,” I speak out loud to my plant friends. “Iced tea.” My years do cause me to reflect upon my various stages of philosophies. I would like to think I have evolved but sometimes I am not so sure.

In the 1970’s, when I was at a particularly impressionable age, I remember learning that plants respond to human speech. I think it is all bunk now as the real benefit all along might have been the increase in carbon dioxide expired as one talks. Still. I talk to them. And breathe on them.

Ok, I also blow kisses over them.

I think it is time for a nap. Another luxury with which I indulge on my days off. I am beyond being embarrassed at this desire – as I think I should be – after all to whom would I be embarrassed? As I walk across the driveway toward the apple tree, Wally stirs just enough to raise his head. He has been waiting for me. His tail thumps the ground in acknowledgement of my presence.

“Hi, boy,” I whisper. Earlier this morning I had found an old Coleman air mattress in the garage. It had been stored in its original khaki and green mini-duffle bag, doing nothing but collecting dust and space. I had kept it all these years, periodically toying with the idea to return to camping.

So far, my seasonal answer to that question had been ‘No.’

But this morning I had looked at that mattress as I’d it were the answer to my prayers. I had inflated it and it had held. Now I gathered my blankets from inside, Wally and the mattress. The apple tree’s shade and soft piano symphonies would pull us both to sleep for a brief Wisconsin summer’s siesta.

February 2. 2022.

It’s one in the morning and the air has just a hint of chill. True, I have turned down the furnace, but the fireplace more than heats the main room. I open the grate, adding a combination of big and small logs to the red embers. I’m no fire starter, but I know that the flames will re-emerge.

I keep the house warm, almost too warm, with the wood fire. The heat feels wonderfully luxurious. In the deep dark, cold night in the woods, we huddle in, the dog, the cat and my elderly family member. They sleep as I stoke the fire and refill water containers.

The extremes of Wisconsin weather strike me as I lay out the same air mattress from my summer naps in the yard. Here I am, a six inch wall of various fibers separating me from wind chills of twenty below.

I gather my stack of woolen blankets and a variety of pillows. For self-proclaimed night owls, we both sleep through the night. I would like to claim that I sleep near her so that she never awakens alone, but the truth has evolved to my own reassurance with sleeping near her.

She is healing and waiting the next steps in her wellness recovery. Once in awhile her nightmares waken her. Sometimes I hear her talking through them but most often they cause her to pause until she sees me.

She has been through so much, these past few months. I watch her breathe, thinking her health issues had extended years not months. She would be the first to admit she had not taken care of herself.

“Enough of serious thoughts,” I look into the flames.

“We are warm and healthy and alive.”

Lots of love, Luv.


February 12, 2022

The absence of noise.

I always liked noise, even to study. I have told myself that fib forever, but a bit of it is true. The absence of noise finally snaps me awake. Startled, I blink, raising my head off the window sill. My back and shoulders have gotten cold throughout the night, but it’s not an uncomfortable feeling.

Within the fireplace’s ash, a few embers still glow. Step number one of the morning is rebuilding the flames. My family’s Wise One stirs, but sleeps. The air quickly heats as well as fills with the pleasant sounds of wood fire crackling.

The weather reports forecast a heavenly mix of below zero temperatures and brilliant sunshine. It’s days like this that invite every muscle in ones body to move quickly. No matter if I haul wood back and forth from the garage or just clean inside, the sunshine will be a welcome brightness.

“Move fast. Move fast.”

But dawn is hours away. It is time now to write.