The best part of a birthday in April is waking to warm air, a cardinal’s song, the steady green growth of hostas uncoiling, lily leaves fanning, Japanese ferns unfurling. Brown earth comes alive with possibility—plantings and weeds alike, nature does not discriminate. Everything grows.
I believe April inhabits my bones, the anticipation of light. All through winter, my body mimics the habit of bears. I hibernate— not in reality, for I go about my life, attend to the details, but I lack verve in waking. On dark, grey mornings, I drag. A week before daylight savings, the sun in the just-right ascension, a switch goes on. Bright mornings, I am up with energy.
This day, I am in full spring mode, grateful to be alive, strong in body and mind, able to write. Writing is a privilege; it challenges, enhances, feeds my growth. I began to write in adolescence, when emotions poured and fueled my pen. Writing became my balm, a way to sort and sift my adolescent angst. The sheer effort of outpouring— poems, letters never sent—transformed and contained my feelings.
I have always been grateful for my instinct to write. Mom went to business school and typed invoices for Dad. A large, black keyed Underwood typewriter sat on her desk; it was inviting. Around age eleven, I began to play at the typewriter much like I played piano— pushing the keys, enjoying the feel of something tangible emerging from my effort. Over time, I learned to type with two fingers just as I do now on my IMac.
Two years ago, on my 82nd birthday, I made the decision to begin a gratitude diary. The impetus was emotional—the fact of aging, coming out of a tough winter, the myths and realities of potential vulnerabilities, wanting to evolve into a more creative and grounded lifestyle. My first entry, I wrote the story of my birthday trip to Weston Nursery in Hopkington, the starting place of the Boston Marathon, to replace two winter-damaged daphne plants with three spirea.
“ It was a windy, cold, body-chilling day. The spirea plants were at the back of the property requiring a long walk in the rain. The woman waiting on me was reluctant in body and spirit— tired, worn down, as she described 8 years of work and the requirement to be present weekends and workdays all three growing seasons. She expressed little gratitude and I did not try to change her mind but listened with sympathy.
“I have five spirea in an embankment at home,” she said.
“Are they hearty? Do you like them?”
For an instance, there was the face of gratitude, a softness in the tightness of her jaw, the fatigue in her eyes at ease. “Yes, they flame out in spring and are fresh and green all summer and rust in fall.”
Her gratitude assured my choice. On this day in my garden, they flame anew.
I am grateful.
Happy Birthday and may the day blossom and bloom open to the sunshine in side and out.
Thanks for your sweet wishes, Sheila.
Beautiful writing. Exquisite sensitivity to your surroundings.
Hy, thanks, so much, for your kind comments.
Happiest of birthday wishes. I need to replace some plants. But when to find the time? And where is that sun your wrote about?
Hetty, my garden, the replacement of plants, their planting are like your yarns, the selection of color, your weaving. Good luck with your garden….as for the sun…
Happy Birthday and many more. This publication made me feel like I know you even better than before. I especially loved the ending. Carol
Carol, Thanks, so much. I’m glad you enjoyed the ending!
I like the attitude expressed here, a kind of generosity & tolerance that extends even to weeds–because, in April, “Everything grows.”
Rosemary, Glad I gave the impression of tolerance….It occurred to me while weeding interminable dandelions last Monday— “Everything Grows,” especially when I refuse to use weed killers in my garden!
Such a colorful 84 th BIRTHDAY to be grateful for! What could be a better greeting than the song of a cardinal welcoming you on the morning of your birthday! Then also taking notice of your hostas, lilies and Japanese ferns, all smiling in the warm spring air with you. It is such a joy for me to be a spectator in your garden, and to see what you so carefully observe. Thank you, Faye, for painting the colors and textures of your flower garden with words! Bev
Thanks you, Bev… always a pleasure to have you in my garden!
Happy Birthday! Thanks for sharing your writing week after week. I look forward to your posts.
Thanks, Heather. I appreciate your taking time to ackowledge and comment.
Oh Happy Days, Faye! I am a little late but from the sound of it you have a long growing season ahead of you. Thank you for the reminder about the power of gratitude!! <3 <3 <3
Kat, I so appreciate your reading and responding to my blog. I can wrap my arms around the metaphor of my having a long growing season ahead of me. I’ll take it…I love your picture– all sparkles.