My brain has slipped its leash. It wanders here and there, Like a blood hound who’s lost the scent. Thoughts pop up Bright green, yellow, pink. They are neon signs lighting the dark. Are they sign posts showing the way, Or another way to lead myself astray?
Tomorrow is the anniversary of my mom’s passing. I wish there was a better word than that. It’s not something I want to celebrate, and I don’t need the reminder of her death to jog my mind into thinking about her. I think about my mom all the time. Hell, I still kind of talk to her everyday. It’s a one sided conversation, but that’s okay. Inevitably, when I think about my mom, I also think about my brother, and that’s okay too. I guess, because of this, memories have been on my mind, but I wasn’t sure what to do with them, if anything. Until yesterday, when I was talking with friends.
One of them lives in Georgia, and she was talking about how they got snow, and a day off from school. Living in Alaska, I snorted, but then I remembered what it was like when I was a kid in Tennessee. Man, when it snowed we were excited! A day off from school, and snow ball fights! We didn’t have proper snow gear, but my mom would have us put three pair of socks over our hands and she would rubber band sandwich baggies over top to make them sort of waterproof. She’d then take the bags the newspaper came in and rubber band those over the top of our shoes. My brothers and I would go along with this for a little while, and then we’d lose the baggies and soon have water logged sock mittens and wet feet. It never mattered to us. We were busy having snowball fights and trying to build a snowman. I told my friends about this, and one of them remarked it must have been a culture shock when we moved up here. It was, but I’ve lived here long enough I don’t really remember how it felt. Everything that would have been strange then, is normal now. However, it did get me to thinking.
I remembered our first winter in Seward. That winter, we got excited every time it snowed. Seward’s pretty wet, so the snowflakes there would clump up, which was something I had never seen before. It snowed, we went to school, and my brothers learned the joys of shoveling. It didn’t matter though, we thought it was great. For the first few months, my youngest brother did the snow dance (like in Calvin and Hobbes) every night. Until we realized it wasn’t going anywhere until May, and then my mom forbid it. We also ate snow cream everyday. In Tennessee, snow cream was a treat. We only got to it once a year, maybe. Here, we ate it every day. We’d go out on the back deck with my mom’s big mixing bowl, and quickly fill it full of snow. Then we’d come in and pour in a cup of sugar, a bit of milk, and some vanilla. For a while, it was so awesome to be able to eat it whenever we wanted, but it got old after a while. Come to think of it, I haven’t had snow cream since.
I’ve never been one for hanging out in the great outdoors. So, I sometimes think Alaska is a bit wasted on me. I do like going for hikes and wandering around, and Seward was pretty awesome because the library was right down the street. I’d walk down there just about everyday, no matter the weather, in hunt of something new to read. My brother loved the great outdoors. We moved up here, and he was in heaven. Hunting, fishing, trapping – he did all of it. I remember that first winter he asked my mom for snowshoes for Christmas.
I think he was hoping for the light weight aluminum ones, but my mom got him what they had down at the Fish House. What they had were the old school ones, like you’ll see used as decoration on lodge walls. They were long and wooden, with leather and sinew bindings. If Stewart was disappointed, he never did say, and he used them all the time when he went hunting and to check his trap line. When he’d come in, it was hard to say what smelled worse the drying out leather bindings, or his feet.
I was talking to my dad yesterday, and he was telling me he was going to clean out the arctic entryway. I have to wonder if he’ll find those snowshoes tucked away in a corner.
Sometimes when someone passes away, we spend a lot of time talking about the things they did, the effect they had on everyone’s life. How they left behind big shoes to fill. At some point though, it’s good to take a minute and remember the smaller things. Like their hands as they rubber banded sandwich baggies around your sock mittens. Them telling you how much snow you had to scrape off the car for the much anticipated treat of snow cream. Their feet in big wooden snow shoes that they strapped on that first Christmas in Seward.
I have a confession to make. It’s not a big one, nothing scandalous, I’m just admitting I’m not a good gardener. I like plants of all kinds, flowers, veggies, trees, etc., and every year my husband and I talk about how we’re going to plant, and we just never do. We get caught up with whatever thing happens to be going on, and forget about it. So, when we started talking about growing things this winter, I was thinking in the back of my brain we would talk, but not do.
This year, with the help of the homeowners insurance, who said we needed to clean up our yard, we actually got a garden in. I don’t know if anything will pop up, but at least we did more than talk.
There are days where the world catches up to me, and leaves me feeling heavy and sad. I feel lost and alone, and hopeless, but, sometimes, I get lucky, and things remind me there is still good, I just have to look.
I was feeling that way this morning when I went outside to let out the birds, and dump a couple cartons of red worms into the various hay piles. They are supposed to be good for compost, so I figured they would like helping to breakdown the goose and duck poop. While I was standing in the woods, I saw a robin fly into the crook of a Birch, and fly out again. As I watched, she came back with a beak full of twigs, and started building more on her nest.
When I went to the front, I saw the woodpecker was back. He’s been a daily visitor, coming each morning to get seeds from the feeder.
I went in the goose yard to fill their water buckets, and took a minute to check out the Big Burr Oak. My husband is convinced it’s dead because the geese stripped some of the bark. Look, the buds are swelling. I think the tree will be all right.
I checked the potatoes were growing in some big blue garbage cans, and they are starting to sprout.
When I went in the duck yard to give them their water, one of the ducks practically laid her egg on my boot. There was no fuss about it, she just mosey past, dropped her egg, and got a drink of water. When I picked it up, it still had the fluid on the outside of the egg, giving it a bit of a slimy feel. You don’t get fresher than that.
When I stepped out of the yard, I saw the flowers on the current bush. If the geese don’t eat them, we may have berries later on in the summer.
All of this reminded me there is joy in the little things. I just have to take the time to look.
My words do not matter.
I have no thoughts,
No stories of my own.
I am just part of this chair.
An ugly flower hanging on the wallpaper.
Someone to occasionally be taken off the shelf, and put back.
To be seen, but not heard.
I cannot speak for the dead.
Their voices have sunk like lead.
I cannot hear them again
They are lost to time.
All that remains are echoes,
Shadows of improperly remembered memories.
We hear them speak,
But it is just the passing of the wind.
I look up at the sky
And see Time wheeling by.
Swirling in the constellations at night
Floating through air currents like a kite.
Riffling Ravens feathers as he soars.
Giving the Pot of Time new lore,
As he stirs and stirs
Rippling Time with his feathers.