After a long weekend of enjoying the company of good friends, things had begun to fall apart.
Our washing machine broke down and there were piles of laundry in-waiting; the fridge was overflowing with Easter dinner leftovers that needed more attention than I had to give them (What on earth do you do with ten pounds of leftover ham?); the seventeen chicks in the basement had begun to outgrow their little pen (Yes, seventeen! What on earth was I thinking? See my previous post); my son’s second copy of Hamlet had apparently disintegrated into thin air again creating a new family emergency; the dog’s knee popped out, which meant he had to be carried up and down the stairs; and there was somehow a mysterious black grease stain on the white carpet for which no one would claim responsibility.
It was also the morning of the start of my work-week, time to step back into the rush of it all.
I forced myself to think of the tree.
We lived in Australia for eight years when our children were little. When you marry someone from ‘overseas’ you spend the rest of your life straddling the planet trying to figure out where home is. But before you imagine an endless paradise, you need to know that we lived inland – eg. no ocean, no long white sandy beach, lots of dust, scorching heat and gum trees.
During our last hot summer there, I was aching for trees that looked like home. So partly out of ignorance and partly out of an unquenchable longing, I bought a dwarf Alberta Spruce and planted it in the garden near the living room window. The temperatures were soaring (it was a ridiculous time to plant a tree) and in spite of my best attempts at drenching the poor thing in water, it couldn’t take the heat.
I arrived home from work one afternoon and the little bush was bare! Its needles scattered on the ground as if it had spontaneously ejected them from the branches. If I couldn’t have saved it, I wish I’d been there to see it. I imagined that poor little tree gathering up inside herself, mustering every last trembling flicker of energy and letting loose.
“Who on earth, put me here?!” I imagined her howling. “That’s it! I’ve had it!” And poof.
There would be no saving that tree, not a single needle remained. A tree needs her needles to go on.
On days when I feel a bit like that tree, I try hard to remember her.
(1) Conserve your energy. You will need it.
(2) Don’t lose your needles, you will need them, too.
(3) As tempting as it is to let loose, just breath. This too shall pass.
As I write this post my husband is creating something ham-filled for dinner, my son has miraculously recovered Hamlet, the dog’s knee is much better, the grease stain is gone and the washing machine is now working. The chickens are still a challenge, but I can handle that.
I’ve got my needles in tact.