By Claire Blatchford
“More horrible news,” says Ed as I come into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Ed listens to the radio every morning while shaving. I put my hands over both ears to tell him I’m not ready for it and he switches the radio off.
“Sounds like we’re getting our first frost tonight,” he adds.
“How certain is that?” I ask.
Word of the first frost reminds me of the dahlias. It's another sort of news, I think, as I start the coffee. Dahlias have been the major headline in the garden for over a month. Yellow blossoms the size of dinner plates, orange fireworks, purple pom-poms, and my favorites, the smallish sun-set beauties with pink-gold-scarlet petals. And now what? They always go black overnight beneath the touch of the first frost—all of them, all at once. It happens every year and is a powerful and dramatic moment. I often can’t remember, as I look at the charred remains the next morning, which was which. Was this shriveled plant tall or medium-tall? Was its flowering occasional or prolific? What color were the flowers? All individuality wiped out in one shot.
All individuality wiped out in one shot. . .. That thought, in turn, turns my mind in the direction of Aleppo and the bombings, where lives are being wiped out daily. But then my friend Debbie’s story— which will likely never be broadcast—pulls me back into our warm kitchen. Debbie has been raising funds for the Syrian-American Medical Society. She told me yesterday about a meeting where a visiting nurse from Aleppo didn’t mention a single name (Assad, Russia, Iran) during her report, spoke only with calm eloquence of the need to start every day with hope. Yes, lives were being lost but lives are also being saved no matter how grim the news. What hope that nurse gave me!
I whistle to the dog, grab my winter jacket from the back closet, and step out to fetch the newspaper on the road. Yup, the air has a cold edge to it, a teeny-tiny sliver of ice. I zip up, pull up the collar and slip my hands in the pockets. Pocket space has gone forgotten for five or six months now. My fingers rediscover old companions from last winter and spring: a cough drop, a pale stone, a bright penny, the cap of an acorn. Back then when everything political gobbling up the media’s attention sounded like a wild, crazy soap opera and made me walk further, faster and harder than usual. Then I thought the drama would end; how much wilder and crazier it is now!
Herbal cough drop, smooth stone, shiny penny, exquisite acorn cap: I squeeze them gently and put them back in my pocket. We have more speed walking to do together. Ha! Did I feel one of them return my squeeze? Maybe....
On my way down the drive, with the dog excitedly checking out every scent on every leaf and blade of grass, an early shaft of sun light pulls my eyes upwards to a circle of orange within one of the maples. Amazing! An orange circle within the lingering summer green of one tree shouting, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands…”
I stop and salute it, inwardly joining in the joyful noise. I thank this tree not only for its orange lollipop but for the reminder that the earth is still firm underfoot, the sky is still open overhead, the sun is up and about its business as usual.
As I turn and walk on I realize there’s more front page news: the dog is sniffing furiously, poking and pawing up ahead at what looks like a series of tiny brown pyramids emerging out of carefully groomed, longish summer grass. I’m aghast. Mole hills already? Isn’t it awfully early for the moles to be seeking out grubs? Don’t they usually begin in February or March? Aren’t there other things for them to eat?
I whistle again, afraid the dog is going to launch into a feverish campaign to evict the moles. That would be the end of our summer lawn. And, hey, what’s that…? A bit further on, at the edge of the garden, I see one, then two, then three mushrooms that must, despite the chill in the air, have popped up overnight because they sure weren’t there yesterday. They’re perfectly round and look like beautiful clean white buttons. I thought we were in the midst of a drought but mushrooms they are. And mushrooms mean moisture, so that’s reassuring.
And, wait a minute, what’s that odd mound of bumpy bead-like shapes over there beside the orange dahlias...?
Ten minutes later I’m back in the kitchen with a pocketful of nasturtiums seeds (the bumpy bead-like shapes), one last enormous bouquet of dahlias (pick them all when you can!) and the folded newspaper under my arm. The coffee’s ready. And I’m actually already all filled up. Filled up with the local, all-around-me, find-what-you can news. The news that makes me glad and excited to be here.
Okay now—and Good Day to the whole wide world—I’m ready to open the newspaper.
Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) If you wish to share how your life has benefited from your relationship with Lorian and IS, please email the editor at email@example.com. We prefer submissions between 700-900 words. We rarely accept previously published material (including blog posts.) We also reserve the right to decline or to edit your submission. Any accepted submissions will be published in the order that best fits our topic schedule.