During challenging weeks like this one, I find myself dreaming of the Chesapeake Bay.
My Quiet Thoughts have been few and far between this week, as I feel like I’ve run from one challenge to the next with little help, appreciation, or partnership. But when I’ve had my thoughtful moments, knitting one little row of crimson yarn into another swatch for a project, or leaning back on my office chair before getting back to an outline that I’ve been working on, or even thoughtfully cutting onions for the daily dinner, they’ve taken me south, to a sunrise and a fishing pole.
Where do you go when you let your brain go wandering? Does it take you to a place or time?
I’ve built this little oasis for myself–a pretty little Victorian Bed and Breakfast with a wrap-around porch and mature bushes and trees. Mildly humid air is always gently blowing through a weeping willow, and delicate cherry blossoms are always snowing onto a freshly cut lush green yard. A dock at the back of the house leads a long path to the Chesapeake, and there is always a fishing pole at the end of it, and a full crab basket waiting to be pulled up and harvested. It’s always just before dawn, with pink, purple, and brilliant orange on the horizon. That’s where I go in my moments of dreaming–there is no husband there, no children. It is a places suspended in nowhere, occupied by no one but me. There is a perfection about that, though a loneliness as well. In the moments when I wish that place could be real, its solitude a fact and a gift, I know that my heart would not be so full as it is right now.
I wonder, though, if such a place could exist for me in some far future. In my second life, could I be an inn-keeper on the Chesapeake Bay? Could I create a little oasis, inviting thinkers and creators to my table, listening to them speak for hours about this and that, learning something new every day? How I would love to, some day, fill a pretty old house full of kitschy Maryland stuff and Black art and finely crafted items, and serve good food and better wine at a table full of people telling interesting stories and leading interesting lives. What an interesting second life that could be.
I woke up this morning, however, in my first life, full of realities and challenges that I have just enough energy to face. The bi-polar weather and toddler blow-ups have made this week feel especially arduous, and I feel like the 2 loads of laundry and 3 meals a day are a hamster wheel that I’ll just keep running until my little legs fall off. I know that this isn’t true… that this, too, shall pass… but today, my back hurts and my eyes are drooping, and I’m feeling all of the tension of my challenging week in my neck and shoulders.
I think that my quiet thoughts are centered around Maryland because I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and there has been much talk about the precious DC cherry blossoms of late, and I miss them in a way that I cannot express.
When I was a little girl, my mother worked for the news station that sponsored the annual cherry blossom parade. We usually just went down to watch the people go by and stare at the beautiful blossoms, but for a year or two, my mom was able to snag VIP tickets and we were able to sit in the stands. My sister and I, so non-important as we were, got to sit behind dignitaries of various degrees and watch the beautiful women in costumes and he local marching bands go by. I remember feeling the sunshine, breathing in the warm and fragrant air, and loving being part of such a magical place. My mother would often say to us, “You are two lucky little girls. You just have no idea how lucky you two are.”
We would reply in unison, “We know, Mom.” As that was the right and dutiful thing to do. There was no real wisdom in our reply.
But now there is. She was so right. How lucky we were to experience that. I will always have a cherry blossom tree growing in my heart, and a perpetual view of the tidal basin covered with beautiful pink flowers. It is always too crowded and full of tourists when you go, but it’s so worth it, just to sit on the branches and appreciate what they are and why they are there, and why they are so beautiful and special.
And every year, when Nightly News ends a broadcast in the springtime during peak season with the cherry blossoms in the foreground and the Jefferson Memorial in the background, I shed a few tears. I actually just shed a few writing that last paragraph. There is nothing in the world that can make me more homesick. Not even a crab cake.
Where do you go when your mind wanders? If you could create a second life for yourself, what would you be doing? What is the one thing about “home” that your heart would ache for if it was missing? I can tell you that if I moved back to Maryland tomorrow, I’d miss the tulips blooming in the Public Garden and the gorgeous willow tree that stands on the edge of the duck pond there. I’d miss the view of the Charles River as you cross the Mass Ave bridge, and I’d miss the view of the skyline from Route 2 as you are cresting Belmont Hill. And now that I’ve been there, I’d miss the Old North Bridge.
But not as much as I currently miss the cherry blossoms.
I suppose there are just places in the world that capture your heart and soul, and you keep them for yourself, locking them away and using them to calm or inspire as needed. We are to lucky to be able to go out and roam, to have the wisdom to appreciate the profound or the beautiful when we see it. I am reminded, when my heart aches for home, about just how true my mother’s words were on many different levels. I was lucky to have a sister to share the memory with, to have a mother who loved me and provided me with so much, and to have a childhood in such a wonderful place. I was a lucky, lucky little girl.
Instead of the pinks and greens of spring in Washington, my window in Massachusetts reveals a blend of stone grey, bark brown, and a large expanse of off-white snow. It is all getting so old and depressing. I know, though, that when the green and the other colors of the world return again, they’ll be all the more glorious. I’m encouraged to have noticed the return of birdsong to the air–if they are here, that means that warmth is not long behind.
On this Friday, I want to remind you that you are amazing–I’ve popped by a few blogs this week (I’ve commented on some but not on others) and I’m always so amazed by how thoughtful and wonderful each of you are. I’m so proud to be part of such a fantastic community. I wish you the smell of winter’s thaw as you venture out of the house this weekend. A few notes from a cheerful returning bird, and maybe the view of something green bursting forth from the awakening soil. I wish you the welcome of a warm smile, the pull of a firm handshake, a corny joke and stimulating conversation. I wish you a few surprising passages from a book you didn’t expect to be good, a sentence or paragraph that set your mind on fire, an epiphany that makes you question and ponder all weekend. I wish you something well crafted and colored green for St. Patrick’s Day, and a pint of good beer to wash it down with. I wish you a moment to let your mind remember a special moment, or whisk you to a refuge of your creation. On this Friday, I wish you joy. You deserve it.
Until Monday, Take Care.