I just came face to face with a presence I usually fail to acknowledge. It had to do partly with looking up the snow covered hill this morning. The trees have all lost their leaves now, the fragile maple leaves, have disintegrated under the oak leaves, so tough and hard they may not become mulch before spring.
Two days later and the snow is still on he ground. I wonder whether this, coupled perhaps with the lunar eclipse, is warning us of a cold, wet, snowy, windy winter to come. We keep patting ourselves on the back, because our New England weather has been relatively benign for a few years now, but I’m sure it won’t be long before we are awakened by the sound of snow blowers down the block, or, conversely, the silence of a snow so recent and so deep that the snow plows haven’t been sent out yet. And that takes me back to Topic A for today.
I’ve been relatively mute for a few weeks, since my leg began to crumble from arthritis. That wouldn’t be such a big deal if I hadn’t already brainwashed myself into thinking that I, personally, was above and beyond that sort of thing, somehow inoculated against it. I bought into all the customary advice (You’re only as old as you think you are; Think young;) and marched along the road, head thrust forward as if sniffing out the future, maybe an inch or so shorter, more than a little out of breath. My leg hurt some, but everybody has something.
All that bravado came before the weddings, the line I discovered that clearly divided Young from Old. Sure, I was rocky, but you can’t keep me from dancing to a steady beat, in a Pizza Parlor selected for the reception. We all had a great time. Truth to tell it was getting harder to do the stairs at Priscilla’s house, but there were two more weddings to come and I danced at both of them, and the morning after the third woke to find myself a broken woman.
I do think the word epiphany has been horribly over worked, but no question about it, I was visited by one that day. An attractive young man hurried over to help me load groceries into my car. My doctor recommended x-rays; Charles started calling on a daily basis. The world had noticed that something was amiss and it wanted to tell m about it.
I complained to Nancy that I was tired, but that I needed to cut parsley and chard, and she said, Why are you complaining; You’re 87 years old; You should feel tired. The x-rays were taken. The hip needed to be replaced. I’ll have the surgery in a couple of weeks. I’ll get well and start moving around. But I won’t fool myself. The line as been drawn., and I’m on the other side. But that turns out to be not a bad thing. I am in Process and have been since the June 2, 1924 moment when I started bawling about my arrival in the world. I am in Process and I plan to relish the experience of this new understanding. I had expected to say, when I take this next step, but it isn’t steps I am taking. I am being taken as if I followed a daily guide through the botanical garden. I see the parsley greening up through the snow, and notice the snow drops in bloom, begin learning the names of plants, discover the reproductive strategies, and so on while tomatoes ripen and then appear in the salad, or sliced with garlic and olive oil, there being no end to the variety of our foods and the riotous character of the calendulas, and then they are gone, birds are spreading the seed, I see the asters open bent over by the weight of their blossoms. And then, there is storm, a heavy rain, the maples are shedding, the garden turns brown. All is quiet and wet and brown. We can’t see the roots underneath the soil, but if we dug in we would find them nested, building strength for next year’s crop. That is Process. It’s the way the world wags. I am part of that, and I rejoice in it, and there will be no end of learning.