Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Friday, September 3, 2010

Planting Roots

I'm afraid to wake-up tomorrow.  Yesterday I woke up with grass in my mouth.  Today I woke up hearing a cascade of loud and varying noises -- creaking -- metal being hit -- I thought someone, perhaps "the murderer," had rammed through my garage door.

Tip-toeing down the stairs, and slinking up to the window, something green was staring right back at me.  It took a few seconds for my eyes to trace up the greenery to the cracked limb hanging off the trunk of the tree. The phone rang, and the neighbor, hearing the crashing from two houses up, called to find out if I'd looked out my window, yet.  "Have a good day," she said as she hung up. 

View from the front door

At first I was glad about my predicament. Something this major might be enough to compel Dave to stay home for the day. He could spend time fixing the tree and Andi and I could watch, asking him if maybe he should "try this" or "try that."  Turns out he went into work and two tree guys came out and told me the tree has got to go. "It's unstable. Rotten, and damaged beyond repair."

Later, Andi and I returned from a walk, and looking at all of the leaves in the yard, it prompted me to replay the part of the conversation the tree guy and I had. "I'll chip it, haul off all the wood. We'll clean up your yard, rake all the leaves away. You'll be set." 

My throat caught, a lump formed.  I wasn't sad until that moment when I realized my children won't have a huge pile of leaves in their yard this fall.

A pile of leaves to jump in is a fleeting thing that happens a couple weekends a year. But the lack of shade we will have in our front yard will bake the grass day after day.  Where will we play?   But still, it is the lack of leaves to rake and jump into, that is biting at me. 

When you jump in a pile of leaves, there is always the same smell, and it can take you back to childhood.  The crunch of the leaves as you land in them, and the rustle as you swoop up an armful and throw it into the air -- those sounds alone can exhume moments of childhood in the fall.

Tomorrow, when the tree guy finishes, he will have removed the huge ash from our front yard, taken down the two unwieldy, overgrown evergreens framing the house, the evergreen shrub that stands below the front windows that is dying, and the dying apple tree in the side yard.

The base of the apple tree has been the girls' garden; it's apples, the food that lures the deer to just below our kitchen window, and it's branches, the holders of each child's bird feeder. "I want to feed the birds mommy," would prompt a trip to Fleet Farm to buy birdseed, then we'd fill the feeders and wait for the tiny birds, the big birds, the cardinals that would come as cute couples and feed one another, and the aggressive blue jays which would scare all the other birds away.

I'd been thinking lately, that I could leave MN and never look back. I still call IA home, and when I am there, listening to the ever-so-slight accent in an Iowan's speech, that I don't hear up here in Minn-ee-sota, I feel like I'm back where I belong.  (Of course, I'm open to warm FL, too.)  

A couple of our neighbors here look out for us -- OK, so maybe I would look back. They keep an out for our kids, they clear our driveway in the winter when we are snowed under by the life of working too many hours, or minding small children with endless needs. They call us when our tree crashes down to be sure we're OK, and offer to come over and clean it up with us. All while they have their own lives, their own children.  Moments like those make me feel like I'm at a place that is close to home. 

Seeing this house for the first time, framed by evergreens, shaded by mature trees, we knew it was thee house -- our next step. Nestled at the bottom of the cul-de-sac, backing up to a wildlife preserve, grapes growing in huge bunches by the back deck, and the apple tree in full-bloom, it had a good vibe...We didn't intend to stay here long, and I've said I have no connection to this house, or so I thought. "I could leave it and not care," I had told Dave.

But then the financial strain that comes with having multiple children at once happened, as did the housing market crash. Jobs are scarce, and those with good pay, even scarcer.  I began to feel stuck...resentful that we couldn't take our next step to a different state, city, or even house. Our choice is made for us. 

Sunday, when I arrive home from my trip to IA, reuniting with Dave who will have been up north, he and I will both be greeted by a naked yard.

Next spring, we'll go pick out new trees, shrubs, and bushes, and put down roots. And maybe, stay a while longer.

View from the back deck

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