After yesterday’s wind-tousled afternoon, it’s hushed here. Gulls have assembled out on the river, perching atop the exposed rocks and drifting like ghosts in an endless stream. Perhaps some fish are returning to the sea, and these birds have come to try their luck. The eaglets are whistling in high voices, sitting on power poles where the view must be unparalleled. Trees have begun to shrug into their fall wraps – a touch of orange here, a kiss of crimson there. Clouds descend to silver the mirror, then quietly depart. The sky arches above me like an upturned cup, filled with the wine of life and celebration.
My Facebook news feed speaks of politics, prejudice, accident and evil intent. It also shares personal posts. A friend mourns the loss of his brother today. Another friend recalls her father with love and sorrow, as he’s been gone for many years. Still another battles a disease whose very name can terrify the bravest heart. My husband’s ashes rest in a plastic case, awaiting release to the air and elements. All is not “happy” here on earth. Not everyone is entirely thankful for what this day has brought to their doorsteps. I will temper my own optimism, which is seldom loud in any event, and acknowledge that for too many of us, this day is simply one more round of struggle and disappointment. It seems almost cruel to flaunt my bounty and my blessings while they have so little.
Yet I would be less than honest if I overlooked the vireo flocks trilling among the maples; my bright-eyed dog keeping watch in the yard; the sheen of water moving forever to a dance of rain and gravity. I can hardly ignore my little family, with a daughter whose strength awes me and a son-in-law whose kindness and patience are gifts to the soul – not to mention a grandson whose whole being is full of laughter and promise. I can never omit a step-granddaughter whose presence lends so much joy. They’re with me every hour, whether or not we see each other in the flesh.
And it would be a shame to dismiss my helianthus, with their gold spires that flare against impossibly blue monkshood. The former – also known as Jerusalem artichokes – are edible and nourishing at their root; the latter are toxic and would kill me if I tried to eat them. So it is, I think, with the barrage of information that runs down my pages and disappears. I have to find the nourishment – the simple, humane touches – among so many less compassionate stories. I want the sunchokes, not the poison. I want to draw down the light if I can. These brief blooms do it, with no thought but survival. With no care but to fulfill their appointed places at the time chosen just for them.
May I fill my own place as well as I can manage, and graciously accept this span that has been granted for my use. May I leave peace, birdsong and sunflowers in my wake.