a wing span of seven feet.

When the sun is shining, it sends me running outside like Dorothy through the poppy fields. Yesterday was one of those days. There was much summer spring to be had. and plenty of plant cameraderie. The fresh air was free. The tossed-out sunshine made my heart smile.

 I cried twice, during the day. Why? Why?

The first time was during the weeding.  It was one of those moments where, if I had so chosen, I could have taken it up a few notches, to the full-on ugly cry. It was weird.

Then it happened again, when I saw the peonies popping up. You heard me. peonies make me weepy.

Yes, I am still a little confused. But I realized they were taking me back to a few years ago to when my dad brought them over from his garden and planted them for me.*sob*

Mr. Weatherman says that it should have been in the low sixties last week. Instead, we saw eighty. So I understand, every ordinary day is a gift. But today I'm here to tell you, so are the extraordinary ones.

On an extraordinary day, you'll fix the limbs of a naked tree against a blue satin sky and notice knots of red gearing up for a show. Suddenly, it doesn't matter if the pipes keep clogging or the dust makes you crazy. Spring is here, and she makes things better.

  I sat in the sun with fresh air on my cheeks and forearms, a prelude of all that comes next, I could not help but think ~ Summer's coming! But I did not dare say it out loud. Because for one thing,well, it could still snow. And for another? I didn't want to hurt Spring's feelings, did not want to relegate her to opening act, especially when she's so dang good at putting on a show.

The scrawny-legged Freshmen class of the flower garden have arrived with slumped shoulders and braces and man, are these girls beautiful. They don't know it yet. They're whisper thin, they bend with the breeze. They know enough to hope that they'll bloom into something more, but they're not buying a slinky prom dress and strappy heels quite yet. They're sick to death of hearing the flat-chested jokes from the snotty hostas, who are all round and hippy. But everyone knows, hostas were made for the shade. They'll live and die without anyone feeling particularly inspired or wowed by them. They're filler. deer food. But don't tell them I said that or they'll key my car.

Life swells into color as I lean into that decadent, blooming, bird-song springtime lullaby, and I'm constantly taking stock. Right now I'm caught up between daydreaming about a stretched-out wedding week on the beach, and frantically cleaning to within an inch of my life so that I might fall asleep under the delicious heaviness of air that blows through open windows rather than duct-work.

I try to picture last spring, which was spent within arm's reach of my garden but never in it, and the best I can do is a grainy film-strip version, the kind we watched in 5th grade, wheeled in on special cart. The images were gritty, the far-off voices didn't quite track and there was always the occasional blank screen. I look back and see sun. and rain, dirt and grass. flowers. I can see it, but I'm not sure I was actually there. I can't smell the roses. or even the hot dogs. My world last spring spanned only as far as the length of my arms. My arms are short, but they were long enough to hold the gift of those hazy months, lined up like toy soldiers. But, to do that, to fully hold the gift of spring, it takes more than hands and arms. It takes clarity and steady breath. It takes eyes able to see up past the clouds. It takes a heart with room to store up the sunsets. It takes a wing span of seven feet.

This patch of ground that now sings me out of my frustrations and hugs me into hope has taught me the better part of Patience. I have struggled to resist the love, lashed out at everything new, everything old. I have waited to get with the program. waited for my heart to push all of its baggage into the very middle, freeing up all the rest for love. love that I never knew I needed.

 This spring, I'll reach out, over and over and over again, and hoist myself up. My hands long ago memorized the dimensions of his ribcage. My heart still wonders what to do without him. He knows for sure, this time around, that he is fully loved. And I know for sure, this time around, that I am ready to live this one. Maybe it doesn't need to be me vs. the pain. Maybe when I see the good peeking out in the hearts around me, it strings me back together a bit. Maybe I have things to teach others. still more to learn. if only I would just take a hard look and see some of it reflected back on me. I have discovered that I'm just not cut out for the big picture. Quite regrettably, it appears that I simply don't have it in me. I was not prepared for this. I am waiting for the day when I discover my peonies in full bloom. when they are the perfect pink, pouffed up fluffier than my grandma's old powder puff, full-on debutantes with eighteen petticoats and teetery heels. Life feels different in the spring, like walking into a childhood memory that belongs only to me.

 Most evenings I walk right back out into what remains of the dusky daylight and get my hands dirty all over again. There exists a directly proportional relationship between the amount of dirt caked beneath my finger nails and the clearness of my heart. I am convinced of this ~ peace finds me in the dirt. It burrows into the cracks of me, it chaps my hands in such a way that I still feel the joy the next day.

I poke around, fiddling with the fun stuff, while the hard things stay in the back of my mind. I chop at weeds that run deeply into the earth. I yank out the ugly and toss it onto the heap. I think about what I would put in it's place, knowing that there is a chance the ugly will still pop up out of the new. the prettier I am trying to replace it with.

In my solitude, I find my heart asking those same, familiar questions...expecting different answers.

As the sun dips too low, I make my way inside and scrub my chapped hands.

I sit down to fold the last load of whites and the cotton snags against my scraped and sandpapered fingertips. The truth that was etched into them while I was outside has followed me in, where my real life is lived. Life is a tricky boat to steer and sometimes I struggle to make sense of it. I'm wistful about the days when the words came more easily and didn't cost me an ounce of pain.

Oh that life could be all Delphinium and English Daisies. Mostly, it is laundry. weeding. And cleaning windows. scrubbing woodwork. and frustrations that keep me from smiling as often as I should. Today, I know this, I'm ready to live these last Spring weeks with a new kind of peace and a new kind of joy. Or maybe it's the old kind. Maybe it's the Good Ol' Days, coming back around and slowing down just enough for me to hop back on. Still, it may periodically trip me up ~ this odd existence, so I have joyfully surrendered with the assumption that this change will steamroll me right into the next phase of  my life. All I know is that when "it" finally does lollygag 'round the bend, I hope it finds me with a smile on my face. And maybe a clean shirt and blow-dried hair, but I'm not holding my breath.


Berger Cookies
(go here for recipe)


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