Last week, my heart grew heavier and heavier
as the media reported more and more bad news.
Fighting in the Middle East.
People in this country shouting at refugee children,
holding ugly signs telling them to to home.
I gave God an earful.
I told him I wasn’t sure about living in a world as cruel as this,
a world stripped of loveliness and compassion,
a world devoid of beauty.
And then, God answered,
as He so often does,
on my morning walk.
I looked up,
and there on the edge of the woods,
stood a doe.
I walked closer and closer
to where she stood sentry.
Closer than I’ve ever been to a deer before.
Close enough to see
her heavy udder,
her swollen teats.
She bravely held her ground,
watching over a hidden fawn,
but never flinching
as I passed by.
Then, at the end of my walk
as I ascended our driveway,
God spoke again.
A male indigo bunting,
sat on the gravel only a few steps away.
He hopped about,
flew into the bushes unsteadily,
then flew with wobbly precision across the driveway
and perched in one tree,
then on the dead branch of another.
transfixed by the courageous bird,
patchy with iridescent blue feathers
with the freedom of flight,
until he took wing again
and flew away.
“My world is filled
with brave mothers,
with courageous children,”
“My world is filled with beauty.”
Morning walks have been a parade of beauty
These late spring days.
An indigo bunting perched on the fence,
Baby bunnies hopping around in dizzy circles,
Cardinals, male and female,
Singing from the treetops,
Or flying beside the path.
And then, this morning,
The season’s first glimpse of a shy, spotted fawn
Crossing the road behind her mother.
I do not care that the drivers of the cars coming down the hill
Thought me a crazy woman
For holding up one hand in warning,
While using the other to point to the fawn ahead,
For urging people on their way to work
To slow down,
Until this small and speckled new life had crossed the road.
Such is the price of beauty,
And I am glad to pay it.
Spring is lovely along our Iowa gravel road.The rain washes away the dust kicked up by cars passing by, so the foliage is a deep and vibrant, soothing green. Every day is a feast for the senses.
The lingering scent of rain from a night time thunderstorm.
Toads betrayed by small movement in the grass.
Does hiding the shadow.
Cardinals singing in the treetops.
The stream rushing and gurgling under the bridge.
Goldfinches fighting for their turf in low bushes.
Each spring morning, I rush outside to greet new blossoms.
First the magnolias, the rhododendron, the red buds, and the daffodils.
Then the bleeding heart, the tulips and the lilacs.
Now the iris, the clematis, and the columbine.
Soon the peonies and the daisies.
I can’t bear the thought of missing the arrival of these friends. So most years, I stay home in May, determined to fully savor its beauty. But not this year. Not this week. Tomorrow, we pack the car and leave the beauty behind for a few days. I hate to miss the arrival of the peonies and daisies. But I know how much my daughter misses our gravel road after a year in Ohio while her husband finished grad school.
She misses the ancient silver maples in our yard,
The sight of leaves and grass,
The smell of trees and space and flowers,
The fairy ring where she played as a child,
The regularity of a gravel road each mile,
The greenness found only in Iowa,
Beloved by Iowa girls like my daughter and me.
She’s hungry for her home state, as I was during the seven years Hiram and I lived in South Dakota. So hungry, I could hardly bear it. So eager for a taste of home, I lived for my mother’s visits and feasted on the time she spent with us.
My mother left her roses,
And her yard work,
And her rhubarb,
And her invalid husband
To feed her daughter a taste of home.
So the peonies and daisies will have to bloom without us. Hiram and I are off to see our daughter and new son. Packing our car with Iowa air and comfort. Eager to share our feast with our hungry, Iowa-starved children. Bringing them the taste of our gravel road as my mother once brought a taste of home to me.