Wonders Never Cease

If ever you find yourself house hunting in Maine, I offer this small piece of advice.

Do not buy a house in the winter.

Because you're going to want to see the yard, to see just how many perennials are snoozing under the snow, to know whether it will take a truckload of mulch and a summer's worth of weeding to maintain those flower beds.

It has taken me three summers to learn how to pick a Lilac bush out of a line-up. Three summers to work up the nerve to "trim" the shrubs. And by trim, I mean hack, and by hack, I mean ruin my back for the better part of the year. I've been listening to Olive Kitteridge on my Shuffle as I weed, thinking to myself how Olive would despise me for my horticultural ignorance, how she'd probably say, "Hell's bells! That wretched red-headed girl from away shouldn't be allowed within fifty feet of a tulip."

Yesterday I completed the first round of weeding, pruning, trimming, dead-heading. And the beds are officially in beautiful shape (even by Olive's standards). I wish I could say the same for my spine.

But yesterday brought a surprising revelation. As Dani and I carted a bucketful of rogue greenery to the back, I thought the most blasphemous thought: I enjoy this.

I enjoy pulling a tree branch toward me to trim its drooping branches, seeing sunlight burst through star-shaped, watching blue sky and green leaves shout brightly to each other like boys in a summer game of kick ball.

I enjoy discovering a ladybug, red as a ruby, watching her fly away, hearing Dani squeal with a familiar mix of delight and fear. "Her is f'ying to her pamily!" she giggles and claps. "Yes," I say, "She is."

I enjoy watching Calli run the perimeter, warning the gulls not to set a webbed foot on her lawn. Further down the street, I see a crow and a gull taking turns eating lord knows what. Working together. Can you imagine that? Wonders never cease, I think.

No they do not. They do not cease, not when you pay attention. It is a wonder that after three years of moaning about the yard, I am finally comfortable wearing my green gloves. It is a wonder how a tiny ladybug erases the ugly images of every headline I digested earlier--if only for sixty seconds--long enough so I emerge on the other side of the minute a fraction less angry with the world.

There is power and peace in the natural world, even, of all places, in suburbia, in the midst of the pursuit of a manicured lawn. It wasn't my first choice (see tip above on Maine house hunting), but I am nonetheless glad.

Because deep in the dirt of an ordinary backyard, wonders never cease.


Linking this gift--this unlikely enjoyment--to Emily's place, where she carries on a Tuesday tradition.

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