Now, where did I leave that?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today my mother would be 72 years old. She wouldn't have been happy about that; she wasn't one for aging gracefully. Maybe that's a good thing; as Dylan Thomas urged us:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

She raged until cancer, not age, had the last word.

I sometimes envy those people, like Linda, whose mother-daughter relationships were uncomplicated love stories. That wasn't my experience. But I miss Mom anyway. She had a wicked, sometimes bawdy sense of humor, was smart, perceptive, and eventually--though far too late to repair all the damage she did to her kids--got past enough of her own baggage to be a more loving mother than she was most of our lives. She was a fiercely loyal friend to those who earned that friendship, a trait we share. Alas, we also share the capacity to rip out of our lives those who hurt us or hurt someone we love, with never a second glance. I have her to blame for my explosive temper, but I think & hope I've learned a little tact, diplomacy and the ability to look at both sides and admit when I'm wrong; some days I smile to myself imagining her reaction when I am having to be my professional self, the one who says what she should and not what she's thinking; Mom is somewhere laughing so hard she can't breathe! 

She was...theatrical (okay, yeah, she was a drama queen, but also once longed to be in the theatre); one day I looked at a faded yellow newspaper clipping she'd saved all her life and wept to see her young, lovely, hopeful face as she appeared in a high school play, listing her 'stage name'--Terry O'Banyon, imagining her in a 1950s teenager's bedroom, trying on different names to find the one that encompassed her desires. Sometimes I ache imagining all the dreams she had that never quite happened, and hope she was okay with that in her later years.

Three years ago I wrote about her here and I still miss her now as I did then. I think she'd have loved coming to see us (if we could have gotten her to do it!), would have savored the contrast of the mountains to the flat coastal city she and my father retired to. The critters would have made her smile, and maybe she too would have felt some of the peace that occasionally drifts across the porch with scent of lilac and honeysuckle. If I could give her a birthday present now, that's what it would be: a sweet gentle peace, soft as a warm Spring evening, abundant as a Summer Farm Market, bright as a Catskill Mountain Fall, and as warmly comforting as a firelit Winter night; a peace to fill her soul and surpass her long-ago dreams. And I say a prayer that she's already found it...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Peace and Beltane

I haven't posted in awhile. I couldn't...somehow it prattle on while people were suffering and grieving. To those who asked, my son in Boston is fine; he wasn't near the bombing, although several of his staff people missed being there by mere minutes. He was very good about communicating with us immediately. I hope all of your loved ones are safe, and am praying for those who have endured fear and loss and sorrow.

With last night's setting sun, Beltane arrived (for those who follow a secular calendar, anyway. I know lunar Beltane has already passed). For reasons I didn't understand then, even as a child May 1st was one of my most favorite days. I would wake excited, wanting to hug trees, smell flowers and walk in the woods. It was decades before I knew it was Beltane, and that what I felt was the pulse of the Earth, the heartbeat of a bride on her wedding day, the rush of passion's adrenaline at a time when Nature is bursting with love and lust. On assorted Beltanes, I've danced around the Maypole, leapt over small bonfires, walked through the woods, made love, spent the day in serene contemplation. 

Usually I take the day off from work, but this year can't manage the time, so was blessed last evening to have welcomed Beltane filled with a joyful peace. Linda & I had a late dinner out on the porch as the sun was caressing the mountains and the light was turning golden. The quince was bursting with lush red blooms,

seducing bumblebees who were helpless to resist. Lacy dangling flowers swayed like earrings from the maple trees' branches. Peepers and tree frogs and birds sang their courting songs. We talked of small things, falling silent to listen and watch. A bluebird perched atop one of our new bluebird houses, but wasn't ready to commit. The breeze tickled the wind chimes and stroked the virginal white flowers of the old pear trees. It was a perfect moment....but sadly the sun tucked behind the mountains, the emerald grass ceased to glow, and it was time to come in.

This is such an exquisite time of year; is it more so because we know how fleeting it is? Each year I bemoan how quickly Autumn gives way to Winter, but Spring, that moment of trembling breath and perfect promise, leaves so much faster. The hens don't make their way to the coop until nearly 7:30 now. Already the forsythia--Nature's answer to the smiley face--is maturing to a more staid leafy green. The daffodils are like worn out ballerinas, just too tired to go on. There's much to look forward to....our greens and peas are giddily growing before our eyes. 

The Marshall strawberries are thriving

and will be moved to this year's home as soon as the danger of frost is past. We received our other shipment of 200 strawberries, and Linda's elderberries that I gave her for Christmas should be here any day now. And we have our first garlic growing throw the straw! 

We're looking forward to Catskill Native Nursery's Wildflower Festival and Tomatothon, the Country Living Fair, and my Summer Fridays off. But today I'm grateful for that intake of breath, this moment of perfect peace and beauty when we can tell ourselves the world is innocent and untouched, a gentle and loving place to be. 

Wishing all of you simple joy and peace. Blessed Beltane!