they will bloom pink. hot pink. soft pink. their scent will waft across the backyard and fill the patio with sweetness. peonies are this graceful gift of spring, blooming once a year and stunning the universe with rich layers of soft petals. were there to be a time-lapse camera on the peony, what would be the soundtrack of this wondrous flower?
this peony (and a smaller one next to barney) is truly the star of the yard. without much help from us, its beauty will reign supreme over all the grasses and all the hosta and all the day lilies. it is – despite all efforts by dogga – a survivor. and every year we marvel at how much bigger it is growing and how healthy it looks.
a quick google search reveals that peonies symbolize romantic and non-romantic love, as well as friendship and happiness. ours, blooms waiting, was a gift from dear friends, transplanted from their yard, a haven of flowers. it is stoking up energy; its gorgeousness is innate.
there is a new baby coming into the family. a baby girl. the other day i had the absolute delight of seeing the ultrasound of this baby merely four months from her premiere appearance. stoking up energy, dreaming about wearing hot pink onesies and puckered vintage polly flinders dresses. yes. wondrous stuff.
i remember that feeling. thirty-three years ago yesterday my daughter was born. pink quickly became her color. i know now’days there is a movement to have babies in monochromatic tones, beiges and earthy tones, greys, muted colors, gender-neutral. but back in the day, i celebrated this beautiful beloved baby girl with the pinks of the rainbow.
and so, each year, right about the time the peonies are getting ready to burst forth, i am celebrating her birth-day, celebrating the hot pink of her zeal in life, celebrating the opportunity this universe gave to me – to be her mother. to be the mother of her little brother, whose toddler color was blue-jean-oshkosh-overalls. the fragile blooms a dominant force in our yard, their presence in the world a dominant force in my heart.
10. there are now ten teeny tomatoes tethered to the tendrils of our tomato plants in our tiny tabletop garden. it’s amazing! i am ridiculously dedicated to them and watch each day as they grow.
on sunday i went outside to this old barnwood and pipe planting stand and, for the second time now, snipped off fresh valentino. it’s heavenly, the scent of fresh basil. with a little olive oil and some boughten* grape tomatoes tossed with leaves of basil, we had a meal from our little farm. (try to contain your amazement, millennial farmer.)
i still marvel at this minor little miracle, simple and so utterly complex, this growing edible food. we clinked our glasses of old vine zin in celebration and reveled in the good fortune we felt having successfully – at least for the last three weeks – raised a few plants, who seem to be happy and flourishing in the hot, humid, rainy days we have been having.
around the corner is an empty and beautiful grass lot on lake michigan, owned by the people who live across the street from it. they have planted a vegetable garden and we watched as they tenderly watered it the other day while we walked past. i wonder if they started with a container garden on their potting bench.
i don’t know how long it will be before these teeniest babies will grow and ripen into cherry tomatoes that will grace our salad bowls or join with basil in pasta-union. it will be a journey of enlightenment for us. what i do know is that we are seriously loving every bit of it. and the tomato and basil plants seem to know it.
*boughten: though i don’t normally use it, this is indeed a word and, for this writing, seemed like the right one to use.
it doesn’t matter. anything could be happening. any fire. any storm. and then, like glitter, the tiny miracles show up. the mica. and for a moment or two we are standing still, our focus re-directed.
this quote – “life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles…” (mike greenberg) – appeared in my facebook feed, re-posting from a decade ago. a gentle tap, a hey-remember-this.
the post below (#TheMicaList) is from not-quite-a-year ago, published on my 60th birthday. as i rapidly approach 61, i find that re-reading it reminds me. to everything there is a season. and a time to see mica.
my sweet momma would often call me just as the time i was born would pass on my birthday. at the end of her life she didn’t do this anymore but i always remembered anyway. mid-morning i would know that this was the moment i arrived at this place, this was the beginning of my passing through, the time of my visiting.
today, this very morning, it was 60 years ago that i joined the rest of this good earth on its journey around the sun. spinning, spinning. every day.
it wasn’t long till i realized – as an adult – that we spin our wheels constantly to get to some unknown place we can’t necessarily define or find. we search and spin faster, out of mission, out of passion, out of frustration, loss, a feeling of no value or a sense of lostness. we spin. we seek. we try to accomplish. we try to make our mark. we try to finish. we try to start. we leave scarred rubber skids of emotions on the road behind us; we burn out with abrupt, unexpected turns, we break, wearing out. spinning. spinning. from one thing to another, our schedules full of busy things to do. often, days a repetition of the previous day. every day full. full of spinning. but we are still seeking. life is sometimes what we expected. life is sometimes not what we expected. and that makes us spin faster, our core dizzying with exhaustion.
the simplest gifts – the air, clear cool water to drink, the mountaintop exhilaration of parenthood, hand-holding love, the ephemeral seconds of self-actualizing accomplishment, the sun on our faces…we have images stored in our mind’s eye like photographs in an old-fashioned slide show, at any time ready for us to ponder. but often-times we fail to linger in these exquisite simplicities. the next thing calls.
this morning, as i stare at 60 – which, as i have mentioned, is kind of a significant number for me – i realize that everything i write about or compose about or talk about or hold close in my heart is about these simplest things, the pared-down stuff, the old boots on the trail – not fancy but steadfast, not brand new but muddied up with real. in our day-to-day-ness i/we don’t always see IT. the one thing. there is something -truly- that stands out each day in those sedimentary layers of our lives. it is the thing that makes the rest of the day pale in comparison. in all its simple glory, the one true moment that makes us realize that we are living, breathing, ever-full in our spinning world. the thing that connects us to the world. the shiny thing. the mica. that tiny irregular piece of glittering mica in the layers and veneers of life. the thing to hold onto with all our might.
that tiny glitter of mica. mica nestles itself within a bigger rock, a somewhat plain rock – igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary ordinariness. not pinnacle, it is found within the bigger context. sometimes harder to find, harder to notice, but there. and it makes the day our day, different than any other. it is the reason we have learned or grown that day. it is the reason we have laughed that day. it is the reason we have picked ourselves up off the floor that day. it is the reason we have breathed that day.
and now, at 60, i resolve to see, to collect those pieces of glitter. not in an old wooden box or a beat-up vintage suitcase, but, simply, since they are moments in time, in a tiny notebook or on my calendar. join me in #TheMicaList if you wish. as we wander and wonder through it is our job, in our very best interest, to notice the finest shimmering dust, the mica in the rock, the glitter in our world.
with all the reminders around us to remember-remember-remember that every day counts, we get lost in our own spinning stories, narratives of many strata. i know that in the midnight of the days i look back on the hours of light and darkness in which i moved about and remember one moment – one moment – be it a fleetingly brief, elusive, often evanescent moment of purity, the tiniest snippet of conversation, belly-laugh humor, raw learning, naked truth, intense love – those are the days i know – i remember – i am alive.
my visit to this physical place is not limitless. but each glitter of mica is a star in a limitless sky of glitter, a milky way of the times that make me uniquely me and you uniquely you, a stockpile of priceless relics. my time stretches back and stretches ahead, a floating silken thread of shiny. it’s all a mysterious journey.
frank made sure to bring us the dvd. our favorite of the hallmark christmas movies, a season for miracles was scheduled for tv viewing at a time we were not available. and he knows. frank knows how much we love this movie during this season. we, i have to admit, spend just a little bit of time watching hallmark christmas movies, despite their obvious indulgence to happy-endings-aficionados. a season for miracles is such a story, but there are these lovely lines spoken by patty duke toward the end, that inevitable-anticipated-yet-yearned-for end. she wisely advises one of the stars of the movie, giving him something to consider, “i forgive you. there’s a lot of power in those three words. they can change the world.”
yesterday i sang these lyrics, “all these pieces broken and scattered, in mercy gathered, mended and whole. empty handed but not forsaken. i’ve been set free, i’ve been set free.” (broken vessels – j. houston, j. myrin)
in true cliche, i would, indeed, say we are all broken by pieces we need to forgive, things for which we need forgiveness. we carry these burdens like heavy luggage, dragging them day by day, place to place. nary a moment goes by without our minds summoning up a reason to be dismayed or disgusted with someone, disappointed in ourselves. we are not free.
is it pollyanna-ish to believe that the world would be changed if forgiveness were paramount? is it an irrational, unreachable panacea for all the divisiveness and turmoil? is there just too much purity – too much hallmark – in those words, in that kind of peace-seeking?
if you could, who would share the third seat in a room with you and forgiveness? with whom would you seek forgiveness from? who would you forgive?
is it better to be mended and empty-handed than holding-on-tightly-burdened with sharp, broken pieces that pierce your heart? where is your free?
today, as i write this for tomorrow’s post, is My Girl’s 29th birthday. 29!! where does the time go? i pretty clearly remember making her birthday cakes through the years: little mermaid, elmo and big bird, barney, pocahontas, daisies and peace signs and smile faces, ballet slippers and exclamation points. i loved making homemade birthday cakes for My Boy also: semi-tractor-trailers, sneaker-cake, a vw bug, soccerball and soccer field cakes, basketballs, tow trucks, helicopters, tennis rackets, thomas the tank engine. these cakes did not look anything like the beautiful and painstakingly detailed cakes my dear friend susan makes, but, with food dye staining my hands and frosting all over my clothing and stuck even in my hair, it was a source of great delight for me to design and make their cakes.
i’m wishing that i could make a (gluten free) cake for her today, celebrate her. instead she will spend her day in the high mountains. she will be surrounded by great beauty. snow caps the mountains and spring taunts her little town. she’ll breathe in the freshest air, walk briskly with no effort or even a nod to the altitude, laugh with friends, work with vigor. and she’ll be one-day-older-making-her-one-year-older on this good earth.
and i lift my face to the heavens and the universe and ask, for this miracle in my life called a daughter, for experiences of exploration and surprise, for learning and the confidence of knowing, for love given and love received, for reliance on a benevolent universe. holding her gently in my hands, i ask for all good things for her.
and i hope she had a really delicious piece of gluten free birthday cake.
i was surprised the first time i walked into the bathroom and my toothbrush already had toothpaste on it. it was one of those moments – you know, the kind where you get a little mushy (who, me?) and think “wow, that was so sweet of him!” it’s just a little thing, but in the overall scheme of life, it’s those little things that really matter. the big stuff will always pop up, lurk, threaten to overwhelm us, but the little things comfort us, reassure us, heal us.
the girl was home for just a bit. i was sooo excited to see her. i thought of huge things we could (maybe) do, places we could (maybe) go, even though i knew that there really wasn’t even time; she had commitments that would make any of those things impossible. still, a mom can dream. instead, it was the moments at the kitchen table laughing and doing a crossword puzzle that really counted. it was the girl holding on to the pen we were using, refusing to relinquish it to me, filling in all the boxes and just being herself -the amazing daughter i recognize- fiercely independent (see previous post) – that made my heart so filled, so grateful.
my big sister sat on the bed with me and we talked about the big day ahead of us. i was tired and she gently told me to put my head on her shoulder and rest. i can’t remember a sweeter moment i have spent with her in recent days. no shopping spree, mutual pedicure appointment, shared meal, anything, could have been better. i am, still, so grateful for that moment.
the hot chics (aka chics caliente) shared the reading aloud of ‘the blessing of the hands’. they have been there with me for three decades. three decades of time spans many changes, much turmoil, much bliss. in this reading aloud moment, the tears fell freely and the hugs were full of new life, new hope.
these are the miracles of life. the times we need for the rest of the times. it is a miracle sometimes that we even notice the miracles. we stand in grace all the time and don’t see it for the warbled un-grace we grant ourselves.
i stood in the balcony and looked down at the church (which right now, thanks to frank, is stunningly beautiful in its white-light holiday splendor) and remembered a day not too long ago. it hasn’t even been two months since i walked down that aisle into the future. i remember looking around at all the people there to witness these moments and then looking ahead to the man at the end of the aisle. the one who puts toothpaste on my toothbrush. the one who is infinitely tender, who loves to hold hands, who chooses to slow dance in the front yard in the middle of raking, who brings coffee to my pillowside, who reads aloud with me, who chops dinner ingredients alongside me, who makes me madder than anyone i’ve ever met, who makes me weep when i catch his eye, who is “my favorite pain in the ass” (a little sign we bought on our honeymoon). when i wrote this song i didn’t realize he would walk with it down the aisle into us. a miracle of life.
you wonder what the universe has in store for you. you think that you know. you think you have it covered. you think you have control of it, of timing. and when it isn’t playing out how you think, you rail against it, wondering why it isn’t working the way you thought/wanted/worked for. but the universe seems to have a way of connecting the dots, allowing these tiny little miracles to happen, forming the big picture…making the grace bubble around you bigger and bigger and bigger.
until now. when i realize that maybe all the things that happened before -the joys, the pains, the mistakes, the accomplishments, the huge things, the littlest things – add up to now. one of my beloved nieces sent me something on our wedding day. it read, “sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” wow. true. my other beloved niece sends me unicorns and rainbows and bubbles and reminds me all the time of the magic all around us at every moment. those miracles. showing up again.