Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Morning Thanks--Revery

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, 
One clover, and a bee.  
And revery. 
The revery alone will do, 
If bees are few.
So saith Ms. Emily Dickinson, the Belle of Amherst. No need for purple prairie clover out back of our place, no need for bees even.  No need, really, for prairie itself because we can, all of us, simply create a prairie of the mind. 


She sounds like Milton. "The mind is its own place, and in itself/Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven." 

That too. And that line would be touching if I didn't know it belonged to Satan who was, at the time, taking a good look at the depths of Hell all around him. 

I prefer prairie.

So Saturday, I Robin-Hooded a few ditches, stole a half-dozen clumps of black-eyed susans, some purple prairie clover, and anything else with July color, dug out holes in our backyard, and dropped those clumps of native plants in, watered them, then stood back and watched 'em dance in a glorious summer breeze--our own colorful prairie beneath the open sky. 

For one day at least, it was beautiful.

Saturday was a day for life. And death. All morning a funeral. If all that remained of the deceased was what was left behind, then the preacher was blowing smoke because the man whose life we celebrated actually lost an epic battle with cancer and death was the victor. But the preacher claimed he'd won because there's more to life than meets the eye, more to prairie than what waves for a moment in a gentle breeze of a warm July afternoon, more to life than life.

And Saturday it also was my father's birthday. My guess is his daughters, my sisters, remembered too, but probably no one else on the face of the earth. Calvin Schaap was born on July 26, 1918, somewhere in Michigan, just a couple months after the doughboys put boots on the ground in France. He was the seventh child of ten, son of a preacher and the woman his parishioners would have called the juffvrouw, his wife. That child was my father. He died about a decade ago, but Saturday, when I was dropping those black-eyed susans in the backyard, after the funeral of a wonderful man, Saturday, my father's birthday, I was thinking of him too when trying to transplant all that beauty.

I was thinking of parents and how strange it seems to be parent-less, as if I were an orphan, nobody back there to write to, to call, to think about. The child in me says, no one back there any more to care. 

I know very well that digging up those ditches and transplanting all that sweet color may have been an exercise in futility. Purple prairie clover survives out here because its roots roots run so deep I would have had to dig a hole as deep as a grave to get it all out. 

And I didn't. This morning, right now, in the face of a cloudy dawn, those transplants are all still standing; but they don't look as if they've got much fight in 'em any more. They're droopy and peaked. My mother would say they look sad--they look vlauw, a Dutch word I don't have a clue how to spell. I could call her and ask; but even if she was still alive, she wouldn't know herself, I'm sure.

Still, Saturday afternoon, after the funeral, on my father's birthday, a dozen bunches of prairie flowers out there dancing in the breeze behind our place looked, at least for a moment, as lovely as Wordsworth's daffodils. And that was good enough for me, good enough for the time being.

Somewhere down beneath the top soil of our back yard, I'm told, there still are elaborate root systems from a time long, long ago, a treasure chest of native prairie, roots still vital enough to send up new growth if given the chance. They're still there.  Even if my back yard funeral day projects don't take, there's still life down there somewhere beneath the ground.

Isn't that great?

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the Bible says, the evidence of things not seen.

Even if my transplant black-eyed susans look vlauw, life is more than meets the eye. I like that.

The preacher wasn't lying: that good man we buried didn't lose the fight. 

Death has an awful sting, but there's much more to life, so much more. And that's reason to give thanks this morning, the sun just now rising behind me.

1 comment:

joanne said...

Just remember, transplants need lots of water and care the first year or so. Just like a transplanted human, they will wilt without nurture. I hope your mini prairie in honor of your father thrives and multiplies, as has his family.