Monday, March 20, 2017
Morning Thanks--what's out there, out back
This, yesterday at around five in the afternoon, was our back yard. Past tense, was, because although the photo (hardly a showstopper) stops time on a dime, what's out there this morning right now in the darkness, isn't the same. Nor what will be out there around five in the afternoon today. Yesterday, temps soared. Mid-seventies. It was gorgeous.
Last weekend, out west in South Dakota, it was January, temps below zero, cars covered with snow. All winter long our Buick hadn't coughed. Finally, in March ye olde engine told me how angry it was to be left out in the cold.
One Sunday later it's May. What a joy.
What's in the picture is not all our backyard. On a clear day from the deck, we can see two or three miles west to east. What's ours is one sweet acre, front to back where most of the long, dead field grass stretches, and west to east about as wide as a photo allows. Those four snaking paths through the grass I cut last year so our grandkids had a track for the four-wheeler.
And so that I could walk through our little kingdom and supervise the wildflowers coming back where once there was nothing but alfalfa--to which I added two sprawling pumpkin plants I planted when my grandson suggested that a couple of pumpkins out back would be cool.
There's a bare spot out there to the just west of the yellowed field grass, a rectangle of open space. See it?
The idea of that space--I've never been mistaken for Johnny Appleseed or Old McDonald--is that it become, some sweet day, a field of native flowers in profuse and almost sinful abundance. Last year, I "plowed-the-field-and scattered/the good seed of the land" (some childhood song just came back there--sorry) with the help of a friend who's not only helpful but blessedly adept at renewing native prairie and setting the world ablaze in wildflowers.
It felt like an almost biblical undertaking, mixing a few precious seeds in with what amounted to a cover crop of sawdust, mixing it up in a big tub which created a ritual brotherhood that brought me back to that early scene in Moby Dick when the Queequeg and Ishmael have their hands in a pot of richness from a sperm whale.
Okay, that's overdoing it. But the whole process seemed ancient ritual, even more so when we walked through that chunk of plowed ground scattering handfuls of seed and sawdust.
Last year, I mowed the piece weekly. You've got to give the newly planted wildflowers a chance to take root without simply getting crowded out by weeds, I was told. So that little plot out back looked clean but crappy last summer. The lawn mower kept it from getting shaggy, but a Wordsworthian field of daffodills it wasn't, nor, I'm told, will it be this summer.
Yesterday, for the first time since last fall, I walked through the backyard, front to back, side to side, including that richly sewn chunk of last year's nothingness. I don't have to tell you--in all that Sabbath warmth, things were popping. From the deck, what's out there looks like it's wearing its own dirty winter coat. But up close, there's green galore.
I haven't a clue whether that spotty emerald is friend or foe, but I couldn't help smile at what's emerging because just last weekend it was dreadful winter, but yesterday it was almost June.
Once upon a time it bothered me that the derivation of the word easter is significantly pagan. But just because its origins have nothing to do with an empty tomb doesn't mean it has nothing to do with resurrection. What's happening right now in that barren-looking little stretch of ground in our backyard is flat out beautiful, even if what's there is still weeds. It's a promise.
For those intermittent splashes of green in that little piece of our backyard that I couldn't help notice yesterday, I'm thankful this morning.
Easter is still a month away, but it's a joy to know that what's coming up just can't wait.