It’s ok to be soft

I feel the urge to follow up last week’s grand declarations with more bangarang news, but this week has been more subdued, which is entirely reasonable. The major item I can report, at this moment, is that one of my pea plants has finally climbed all the way up the trellis and into the mesquite tree above it: one tender shoot has wrapped around the branch, and who knows how far these peas will go.

We finally got to sit in the outdoor furniture I put together for Dave, too, which involved wrapping ourselves up in multiple blankets because last week was sort of cold. But being in a blanket, with coffee and a book and a cool face, is pretty nice. When you move into the sun it’s warm, but the shade could fool you into thinking we were having an actual winter.

(In the next week the temperature is supposed to fluctuate between 50 and 80 degree highs, so it’s a good thing I grew up in Seattle and layering clothing is baked into my DNA.)

I can’t stop thinking, too, about the night this past week when there was a fire truck outside our house for an hour: a fire truck and an ambulance, with the lights streaming red and blue into our windows, but no sirens, and no people that we could see. I got worried there was a gas leak or something; that an explosion was imminent of a fire was as-yet delicately suppressed but would soon make itself known. None of that happened. But in the days that followed, we’ve seen a crowd of cars at our next-door neighbor’s house, heard them talking about her possessions from the backyard, and we’re worried—fairly convinced—that she died.

We didn’t know this neighbor well, so I don’t feel it’s my place to memorialize her, but that in itself is a peculiar feeling about someone who was so physically close to us for so many years. I just talked to her on the phone the other week after that guy showed up in our yard, and I keep wanting to call her again to explain that I was worried, when the fire truck showed up, that she’d seen him too. It seems odd to ask any of the gathered people if they are mourners. Are you mourning?  Is that a question you can ask?

The other night, Paul went out to the back door in the middle of the night, and I happened to wake up at the same time, probably hearing him scuffling around, and I found him there in the moonlight, lounging on the cool floorboards, looking at the yard. I was half-asleep, so I wasn’t thinking about the neighbor, but when I glanced over to her house I had the feeling that we were all there together, that this was the place and the hour when we were in one another’s presences one last time. I brought Paul back to the bedroom, and fell back asleep, and that’s all I know about that.

What else? The birds in the neighborhood are still puffed up against the chilly nights and mornings, fat little mourning doves perched on wires. But they are singing the spring in. They can feel it coming. I hear them on our morning walks, and the sound comes from everywhere, all around us.