Letter from Birdland: Life takes turns with the wheel of time
This morning's silver fog has me feeling reflective. In the distance, I see the tree line and the highway with trucks carrying their loads, but everything is muffled: sound, light, color. In the distance, I see the road curving up over the railroad tracks and up the hill.
I have let the chickens out, and even they are subdued by the frost that sugars the still green grass. I stand for a moment and watch the last Araucana hen peep out of the coop. She is a little shy. I don't know what I am waiting for, really.
I stand here and take a little time to reflect on the past several years. So often I write these letters about my daily activities. I don't often reveal the more personal parts of my life, but some pretty big things have happened in my life, in my marriage.
At first, I thought I would write about the separation, the difficult months leading up to the sudden sadness and loss, when both Michael and I were desperate to find the best path through the despair and loneliness we felt together.
I thought, at the time, that I would find the courage to write about the sudden wrenching of our lives and the decision to seek an answer in living separately.
But there was the fall semester to prepare for, eggs to be gathered and a garden to tend. There were sons to keep my chin up for and friends to talk to and many, many reasons to take note of the sun's rising and setting and flowers blooming and fading, and the wheel of the year turned and life went on.
As my independence sprouted, I began to relish my new life alone. I adopted a little black puppy. I thought I'd write about learning to live a life of singularity, of remapping my path, forging the way toward joy, of making decisions unfettered by another opinion.
But there was snow to shovel and fires to light, lessons to learn and bills to pay and a boy to teach that he has the love of both parents, that even if they have to pass him back and forth like a volleyball, they won't let him drop. And the wheel of the year turned and life went on.
When Michael and I divorced, I thought I would write about letting go of a loved one and trying ever to do it with grace and respect, of searching for and finding the surprising gifts of the divorce, silver linings in the heartbreak.
But there were seeds to plant and sticks to throw and fires to build and trails to blaze and a young man to teach to drive so he could visit each of his parents in turn. And the wheel of the year turned, and the river flowed and the seeds sprouted and life went on.
And then a funny thing happened.
Michael and I met up again and began to see that we had each lost some of the burdens that had complicated and encumbered our marriage.
Maybe we dropped some in the river and let them float away. Maybe we buried a few in the soft earth to mulch and decay. Maybe we tossed one or two to the wind to ride the jet stream. Maybe some burned to ashes in a bonfire and floated up with sparks to the sky.
We didn't lose all of them, you understand, but enough that we could remember why we got together in the first place. We began keeping company, learning new things about each other and remembering the little ways that we worked well together.
It hasn't always been easy or delightful, but somehow we have arrived back to love, ready to commit to each other again with a little more wisdom this time — and a lot more support. We are engaged to be married when the peonies bloom.
I notice that the sun has burned off some of the haze while I was thinking. The shy little hen has come out and joined her flock.
I lift the lid of the coop and find one brown egg in the nest. I cradle it in my palm. It is warm and full of life.
And the wheel of the year turns, and life goes on.
Turn in beauty; turn in peace; blessed be.
Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. You can see photos of Birdland at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Mary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via snail mail care of The News-Gazette, 15 Main St., Champaign IL 61820.