Thursday, April 10, 2008

Waiting for Spring

I woke this morning to a muffled, dim room. Snow blanketed the skylight, and the sun was merely a rising brightness in the eastern sky. Everything was grayed further by a cloud of snow that blew in spirals and starbursts against the windows. I dragged myself onto the treadmill, resigned once again to a cold wintry day, and feeling sullen about the weather. Trudging along I wished spring would finally come, bringing consistent sun and gardening opportunities. I may have been a little bitter that my beans had frozen overnight.

While I paced, however, I remembered a weekend morning not long ago. I had (as usual) overbooked myself, and woke up already desperately behind. So when my little one padded into my room at dawn and peered over the edge of the bed asking "Mama, you 'wake?", I got up, dressed, and the two of us snuck out while Sam and Dad slept on. I intended to make a quick run to the grocery store, then blaze through several other errands before breakfast. But when we hastily stepped off the porch, the sweetness of the new morning slowed each step until I stopped at the end of the walk, holding my child, and savored the first taste of spring. Rain had softened the grass and released a fresh earth smell that had hibernated until that morning under brown grass and patches of snow. The sun was gentle, still leaving traces of pink and orange along the eastern horizon, and some robins -- the first harbingers of spring -- were diligently trotting across the lawn, pausing only to glance our way before listening again to the wakening worms. And above it all came a glorious chorus of birdsong from every tree in the neighborhood. No church has ever felt so holy.

I didn't stop long that morning -- I had work to do -- but I did take the time to appreciate a moment of grace. And this morning, as my heart began beating faster and I lumbered along, I remembered to stop anticipating the next task and appointment and phone call, but instead to take a deep breath and live now, even if there is snow on the ground and I'm going to have to replant my beans.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My kitchen at night

I spend most of my indoor time in my kitchen; I designed the kitchen myself and feel most at home there. The other night, I was sitting here feeling content and I looked up to see these back-lit bottles above the doorway.

When I was a little girl I used to walk with my grandmother and mother to a hundred year old dump not far from the family cabin. Walking through was like being in a three-dimensional history book; we'd pick up ancient, barely legible tins, random rusty bits and pieces, and glass turned iridescent or purple with age. Holding those objects, we'd be momentarily connected to the souls to whom these were everyday objects. We'd take intact bottles back and line the sills with them, a fragile reminder of our ancestors and our history.

I've carried this tradition into my home, and love looking up at the bottles; I find a certain satisfaction in seeing the lovely shapes and pondering what they were used for. More than anything, though, I feel more grounded when I look at them. When I feel lost and lonely I can look at an old bottle and know that I, too, am linked to the past, especially to my mother and grandmother who first showed me where to look.

Beautiful Butterfly

My boy made me this picture. I've now framed it and it's hanging where I can see it every day, but I thought I'd share, too.

Same name, different spelling

My sweet boy is learning how to write phonetically (no, not hooked on fonics!) and this week he presented me with this lovely picture to honor the two of us. I didn't correct his spelling.

Baking Frenzy!

I may not have changed my name to Baker when I got married, but this month I'm beginning to think I should have. For whatever reason -- the endless tedium of waiting through a dreary spring, my recent move to eat fewer carbohydrates, or a general need to create SOMEthing, I have been in a baking frenzy. Bread, cake, more bread, strata, sourdough starter (so it's not baking. It's still part of that yeasty process!) and yet more bread. And this week I lent my bread machine to someone else. It's all about getting my hands sticky lately. But I've had some lovely successes. Now if I could only find someone to eat it all.

Because I deserve them

Every week when I go to the grocery store I buy myself a bouquet of flowers -- whatever is in season. These are some Oriental Lilies I got a couple weeks ago. Bonus this time -- they made the dining room smell all sweet and spicy and exotic.

I think we all deserve to have one beautiful thing in our lives at all times. For me it's flowers. You could say it's a waste of money, or that it's pointless, but it refeshes my soul, so it's worth it. Who cares if it means Mac & Cheese for dinner once a week? The kids certainly don't mind!

I also believe everyone should get at least one opportunity to walk into a room and get a standing ovation. But that's another theory for another time.