It is a Sunday like any other, but change is in the wind. It’s in the trees and grass and soil. I smell it. I feel it, the sun hot on the back of my neck, my throat a little dry. I don’t care what the groundhog said, spring is just around the corner. Change never ceases. It’s in my children, my husband, me. I thought this year might be a quiet one, a year to catch my breath. In spite of many springs, I have learned little about change. There are no quiet years, not when you have children. Not when you have a partner. Not when you grow a garden. There are quiet moments, but no quiet years. I welcome change. I’m used to it.
Natalie bought a house. A home of her very own, not far from here. It’s a sweet old cottage that others have loved and prepared for her. It has high ceilings, hardwood floors, a fireplace and a sturdy fence. It has pecan trees, and magnolias, and crepe myrtles and sago palms in the yard. She wants to paint the front door red so that she smiles every time she comes home. She can walk to the library, where she works. She will be moving out of our guest cottage, which will actually be a guest cottage for the first time! When we moved in, we had no idea that our children would live in that tiny cottage, a cozy nest perched on the edge of our neighbor’s pecan grove—one or two of them in succession over nine years. Transitions take time. But that little cottage is beloved by all who have found a respite there—for a few nights, or weeks or years. Soon we’ll welcome anew visiting family and friends, and they’ll have their own private refuge to relax and rest. But not yet! For the next few weeks, Natalie and her new puppy, Cleo, will call the cottage home.
Cleo is a rescue dog, found on the side of the road in tony Naples, Florida. Despite her auspicious address, she was starving and covered with fleas. Sometimes even “good” families don’t take care of their own. But Cleo held on to her regal spirit. I don’t know exactly how Natalie found her, but she is her perfect companion. Cleo is a young Pharaoh Hound, golden, with bright eyes, a sleek body and huge, elegant ears that stick straight up and whirl toward sound like a high tech satellite dish. You know her pedigree—she’s the dog you see in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Somehow, Cleo fits right in with Natalie. She goes to the library with her and sits calmly on a rug under Nat’s desk. She rides with her in the front seat of her turbo coupe, ears forward, unleashing an unabashed dog grin. At home, Cleo and Lulu, my mini labradoodle, are about the same size and spunk, and they are ecstatic in their new friendship—tails wagging, tongues out, paws flying! They fly over the gardens and tussle on the new spring grass. They drink out of the fountain together, and Cleo dives in! Then they’re off again, dashing full speed around the house, grinning ear-to-ear, running shoulder to shoulder, panting with pleasure. Cleo is learning happiness.
Change is in the wind. I feel it in my soul. It stirs me like a breeze takes up the curtains in my window on a spring morning. I breathe in change.
Heather is pregnant with her first child. She takes to pregnancy with joy and wonder, which fills my heart with joy and wonder. I love that she sends me a photo each Friday, one just for me. I watch her little baby bump grow in the screen on my cell phone, and I feel her happiness. I feel expectation. We roll names over our tongues and through our hearts. Phillip Hudson if it’s a boy? Stella if it’s a girl? Rory? Heather texts me that she feels her baby moving, a flutter here and there. I remember how that felt, a little spirit, a sprite, doing somersaults in my tummy. Sometimes Heather calls me crying. Her life is changing, too. I try to comfort her, whispering in her ear, telling her it’s going to be just fine. Just fine. I know she is very strong. I know she will be a good mother.
Change is in the wind, and it blows around my husband, and sometimes right through him. He’s solid though, with sturdy legs and a strong heart and a giant head. My husband lumbers through change. It makes him toss and turn at night, a live oak in a hurricane. How can he possibly protect our ever-growing brood? Why do they need to change and move and stretch? Isn’t everything already wonderful? I feel him trying to grasp change, like he’s trying to catch the sunlight that slips through the live oaks and moss. I feel his heart and its steady beat that doesn’t change. Change concerns him. Maybe it is easier for a woman. Our bodies change all the time. Our children change every day, and we welcome it. First steps! New words! First hard fall. First home run! I don’t know.
It is a Sunday like any other, and change is in the wind. I put on my gardening gloves, and I dig deep into the soil I have nurtured for so long. I don’t think about getting older very much, but I do feel my muscles tug and tighten as I move the soil. My joints take a few minutes to get in the groove. I’m changing, too. The surprising tug of my muscles reminds me that I need to keep flexing them. I turn over the soil in each bed and see layers from years before…compost, hay, and leaves. Old roots, and worms. Soil that is ready to give new life. After a while, I stop thinking, my hands know what to do. I plant my seed potatoes deep—red, white and blue ones. I think they’ll make my family laugh when I serve them! I plant shallots and radicchio with my bare hands. I spread organic fertilizer—50 pounds of it—on my fruit and nut trees.
I’m ready for a new season.