Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The soft soil under my bare feet is both damp and warm. I stand rolling plump purplish pearls between thumb and index finger, one at a time, dropping them into the bucket belted at my waist. The one lone chickadee whose lunch I interrupted when I came out into the garden has long since flown. My mouth is full of blueberry nectar. My teeth wait patiently for the next frosted orb to pop.
One of the gifts of this strange summer is a very late crop which has somehow fooled the robins into leaving me the first picking of blueberries. Every other year I've had to wait until they got their fill and make do with the second or third round of ripening. I never mind sharing, but still enjoy the rare treat of the best my blueberry bushes have to offer.
The sun plays hide and seek behind the clouds, and the wind seems to be in on the game in gusts that reveal the light in increasingly long stretches. I absorb the heat into my skin, through the top of my head, like parched earth soaking up rain. And for the first time in days, I'm able to release my breath fully.
The reality of the next chapter of my life grows larger and more certain with each day that falls away. I look at the bright side, count my blessings, don't borrow trouble. I embrace each new day for the gifts it brings. I focus on the positive: being with kids, an income, the fact that I'm good at this thing I thought I'd never have to do again. And still the sadness works its way to the surface, and it will be heard no matter how hard I try not to give it power.
In the stillness of my blueberries I remember a June day two years ago when I was so full of joy and hope and determination. I was surrounded by an abundance of love and support; there was no way I wasn't going to fly where I meant to go, and beyond. I remember a year of adventure: agents queried, classes taken, classes taught, learning about the world of publication, making new friends, writing every day and feeling like a real writer to my bones. I remember a second year, this last one, that held as much darkness as the first year did light: realizing it's going to take longer to write this book than I'd ever anticipated, coming face to face with economic realities, a series of deaths, and now living with the impending loss of both freedom and the original shape of my dreams.
Popping a handful of blue sugar into my mouth I recall the long conversation I had yesterday with my friend and new teammate Kelly. Her presence in my life is one of those incongruities that leave no doubt about the presence and intervention of the Divine. Our story started this way. And now she's my guide back to a place I don't want to be. I couldn't ask for a better companion for this leg of my journey. We talked about kids and calendars and projects. She answered my many questions with patience and humor. We laughed—a lot.
My fingers gently tug berry after berry into the bucket. Wind stirs the tops of the trees and the clouds are magically gone. Sun keeps me company. Earth holds me, grounds me. I hold it all in this moment: gratitude to my generous friend, grief at one more loss, a flicker of anticipation at what the unknown future might hold.