A week ago, the scent of warmed lilacs drifted through the yard. It was a sweet reminder that mild spring weather is ahead.
We have both white and light purple bushes in our yard. But today, the scent is faint. I have to put my face into the clusters of flowers and sniff. The florets are beginning to brown and curl around the edges. It's a reminder of the fleeting nature of the mild spring weather.
Today it's warm, and a balmy wind blows steadily out of the west as I hang laundry. It's not the first perfect laundry day, but it's the first perfect laundry day that I've remembered to start a load of wash early enough to hang on the line in time to dry before dusk.
A sunny, windy day is best for laundry. If the day is still and the laundry hangs straight down, it will dry stiff, like cardboard cutouts of T-shirts and socks and jeans. But a little wind will soften it as it dries, flapping and dancing on the line.
I reach into my basket and pull out another shirt, giving it a shake as I reach for the next pin. But I am not really thinking about laundry. Hanging laundry is a meditation for me. I let my mind wander, and this morning it settles on the gathering we had last Saturday.
That afternoon, the house at Birdland was filled with young people. They came to play board games and eat snacks. Ellis put out the call for friends to come out, and the first shift began to arrive even before I had started preparing the snacks I promised. My youngest often has Saturday activities from band and sports, but school is winding down now, and finding a Saturday mostly free of those, we took the opportunity to invite friends over.
We have a good supply of board games, and some brought games of their own. They started with two games on the table: Stratego and Scrabble. I started preparing the snacks.
The idea for this party came at an earlier gathering that Ellis hosted. Now, usually, I find myself a little stressed before parties — trying to get the house cleaned and food prepared always takes longer than I planned for, and I generally find myself trying to devil eggs or frost a cake just as people begin to arrive. This throws me into a fluster as I try to greet guests coming up the stairs to my kitchen with a spoon in my hand and unfinished snacks on the counter, the vacuum cleaner in the corner, the cord winding into the next room.
This time, however, since the guests were technically not mine, I was able to just greet them and go back quietly to my cooking while Ellis took over the social responsibilities.
The fare was pretty simple: bean dip, guacamole, some chips. Later, we brought out some breadsticks with cheese sauce and some apple slices. Easy enough to prepare. As I went back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room table, I got to hear the banter, watch the Scrabble board grow large with words and the Stratego board empty itself of soldiers.
Next, the boards were put away and I heard the snap and rustling shuffle of playing cards. "Are you playing Spoons?" I asked and was invited to join. I played about three rounds before I was out. (These kids mean business. We always played that you had to spell S-P-O-O-N-S before you were finally out, but they said it would take too long.)
Some of Ellis' friends were busy at a track meet and didn't come until after the first wave went home, but once again, the table was filled with playing cards, this time Magic.
I looked for more snacks to prepare: quesadillas and peach ice cream whipped up in the blender. The young people were so appreciative and polite, which made me want to keep feeding them, to invite them back again and again.
Play in beauty; join in peace; blessed be.
Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is interested in positive social interactions and community. You can read more about Birdland at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Mary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.