The moments of my day seem to drift in and out of my awareness. I haven't touched down in a few weeks. I have been a flutter of activity, of dreams fulfilled, struggles realized, relationships changed, growing, constricting, like my breath of late. I have been whirling around in the top of my head with goals and expectations. Not having to go to Boston has freed my schedule and so I filled it with visions of my garden, my sewing room, my son, the girls, the animals, my husband, my family, the projects - the many exciting projects. Just what you would hope summer should be, the ideal feeling you hope for in the snowy February landscape...unfurling before my eyes.
Henry's peonies, they are already in bloom. They are on the southern side of his house, sheltered and growing along a dark blue wall in full sun. Or is it just Henry's touch?
I took a walk to my neighbor's house, a stones throw across the dirt road. Henry just celebrated his 95th birthday and his 70th wedding anniversary. A life time and more...he still cuts his grass, weeds his garden and plants his vegetables. He planted the Iris' about 40 years ago or so in an old cistern that was used to water cows. A pipe ran into the cistern from the spring up the hill. I love that Henry just lets things be, lets them grow the way they will, rust, lean, weather without emotion, just acceptance. There used to be a huge cow barn where the Birch are now.
Henry has lived here in this house on the edge of the hollow for 50 years, he visits his wife every day in the home and comes back to his little house. He gave me a collection of old hat pins his wife had tucked away. He told me she loved going to yard sales. He smiled a sad smile and said, "Poor Jenny". Life changes, the world around us changes, sometimes the change is unrecognizable or unnoticed or seemingly unimportant until one day we find something to measure that change.
My life is so completely filled with ideas, dreams, projects, people, activity, movement. I sometimes see Henry take his quiet, slow stroll down the road a bit and turn to come back. He walks in the yard or sits in his old chair under the barn and listens to his radio while I flutter around in my yard with the animals or in the garden. Life is so different for him. He lives alone, his house is very quiet, very still. It seems a luxury to me to have time to sit and read a book or listen to the radio just to hear it. When does that change happen? The change from busy to quiet? The change from not having enough time to waiting for something to happen? Henry tells me it is lonely, I try to visit him every day. I hug him deep and full every time, it has become our ritual. Fill his world with touch, with embrace, my tiny, meager effort to fill some of the space.
When I lived in California I had an elderly neighbor, he had lost his wife just a few years before and lived alone. He often left his door open and I would wave to him while I bustled by with all my stuff. I started visiting with him on Wednesday evenings and we talked for hours about his life, about the old days, about his lovely wife. He told me he left his door open in the hopes that he would see someone pass by. He spent most of his time waiting. Waiting for the meals he would take at the buffet down the street with his friends. He would wake early, read the paper, meet his friends for breakfast, take a nap, go back, meet them for lunch, mill around, leave his door open, listen to a ball game, sleep, dream about his wife and wait for Wednesday evenings. Sweet Harry Anderson, my dear friend.
An ancient Butternut tree. Henry said the squirrels planted it in the wall, it is still hanging on and still producing nuts. Life is funny that way. It would seem impossible that such a big tree, such an old tree, growing crooked and half fallen on its knees could still unfurl its leaves, reach up to the sun, grow new branches and yield sweet fruit. It is fitting that it grows in Henry's yard, his friend for so many years, leaning to the south, still yearning for the sun and feeding the world around it. Henry feeds our hearts.