1. Morning walks. Not as many pictures because we are mostly staying in our neighborhood, walking towards City Park where there’s a big peaceful cemetery and a lake with pelicans and herons and baby geese.
2. (& 3.) Our garden (and poetry/books). With the cold we had in the final days of winter and all the rain we’ve had since, everything is so green (Eric stands at the back door and says he can see our grass growing) and our irises have SO many blooms this year. We are slowly working to prepare the ground to plant more flowers and vegetables and berries, which always feels like a particular kind of hope, reckless and wild.
I spent last weekend cleaning out my office, which had been neglected for a bit because so many other things needed my attention. The open space here now, the clearing, calls to me when I’m in other rooms, invites me in, gives me a place to be myself. There’s a jar full of white lilacs on my desk from our bushes out front and birds coming to the feeder at my window and the maple tree just outside my window in the backyard is dressed in leaves attached to branches where the birds sit and sing, did even before the leaves came (or after they left?).
As I cleaned up my office, I kept finding packages of seeds — two different packs from my friend Chloé and her garden, one “save the bees” bee friendly wildflower mix I got for free from Honey Nut Cheerios, a card that includes a heart shaped piece of paper embedded with seeds from the place we had Sam cremated (“plant in your garden and wildflowers will blossom in memory of your beloved pet”), and a pack of sunflower seeds from my dear friend Chelsey’s mom’s memorial (“gone but not forgotten — please plant these seeds in loving memory”).
I’m not sure what most of the seeds are, or if they’ll even germinate, but I’m going to put them in some dirt, give them some water, and see what happens. That feels like a kind of hope. I’m also going to add a new peony to my “loved ones lost” section of the garden, a yellow one for my “aunt” Rita, another reminder that grief is love gone wild, love that can still bloom, that is rooted, that you continue to tend for as long as it continues to come back, to keep growing and flowering.
I saw in my Facebook memories the other day a post I wrote that said, “gardeners know what it means to plant their heart in the ground” and then this morning I read a poem from the book How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope that started with the lines, “the heart of a farmer is made of muscle and clay that aches for return to the earth” (“Down to Earth” by James Crews), and then another that said “The first of a year’s abundance of dandelions is this single kernel of bright yellow dropped on our path by the sun, sensing that we might need some marker to help us find our way through life” (“Dandelion” by Ted Kooser), and finally “Couldn’t the yellowing leaves of the maple and their falling also be a sign of joy? Another kind of leaning into. A letting go of one thing to fall into another” (“Another Day Filled With Sleeves of Light” by Heather Swan).
4. The sky over our house. I will absolutely lie on my back in the grass watching the clouds drift — sometimes in delight, other times in despair.
5. My tiny family, tiny home, tiny life. The way that both Eric and Ringo make me laugh. The comfort of them resting nearby. Cooking together, (yes, Ringo does “involve” himself). Sitting in the backyard or on the couch together, doing nothing. The way we three are always watching out for each other because we know we belong to each other.
Bonus joy: crossing things off a list, flowers in the bathroom (Eric knew I was sad, so on his way back home from a walk the other day, he stopped and got me flowers), rain, sunshine, cooking for someone, dark chocolate covered walnuts, all the different smells and colors of lilacs, peony tulips and peony poppies (did you know these exist?!), “black” flower varieties which are actually just the darkest deepest purple, good books, good TV (or even sometimes “bad” is good), listening to podcasts, a warm shower, clean sheets, glue stick, writing in the morning with a hot cup of green tea, meditation, how good it feels to stretch, reaching out and having people reach back, other people’s dogs, health insurance, being able to make appointments online, libraries, Ross Gay, Elyse Myers, Andrea Gibson, a new documentary on HBO about Donna Summer, reading in bed at night while Eric and Ringo sleep.