Well, just like that June is over and here is July 1, a hot Saturday leading into the Fourth of July, and even though I knew it was coming, it caught me off guard, and I haven't any plans. Frankly, I'm a bit spent, even though it was Shawn who went to Hawaii and Europe in June, not me. It was a big month: Hawaii, Europe, a visit from Shannon, Laura and Matthew, some bonfires, a photo-shoot, a milestone anniversary.
When Shawn is in distant time zones, it seems to mess with my biorhythms. I suppose that's part of loving somebody.
The kids arrived two days before Shawn returned from Europe, and left the day before our anniversary. The morning after they left, the morning of the Big Day, Shawn remarked, "I think we should buy a rose and plant it." So we did; we bought two rose bushes, in fact, and they came laden with gorgeous blooms, which I harvested at once.
Thursday was hot, 90. It was another bright, sunny day. I'm trying to train my upper hydrangeas to send their roots deep for water, so I avoid watering them every day. Thursday was a day I'd decided not to water.
Jon called at about 9:30 (a.m.), from the bus, on his way to English class, saying that he didn't have his wallet. He said he'd forgotten it at home. Of course, being me, I feared that he'd dropped it, or that it had been stolen. He told me he’d been able to cobble up $1 in loose change from his pockets to afford the bus ride to school, but then he would be stuck there, lacking both his monthly bus pass and his money, without his wallet. He needed a ride back home at noon, after class. This complicated my walking schedule with my friend, but in the end, Shawn (whose office is in the area) said he would get Jon, and everything worked out beautifully. Shawn retrieved Jon, and they went to his apartment. Jon’s wallet was there just as he had said, and then they had a nice lunch together. All these things, cumulatively, made me very thankful. Meanwhile, I walked, and went to Menard's, and stopped at Aldi for staples (food staples, not the kind you fasten papers with).
Eventually, I headed home, pretty late in the afternoon. It was still hot, and still sunny, and the grass everywhere is turning white-yellow. Driving, I prayed for rain, for gentle, soaking rain, for nourishment for our thirsty grass. At home, I unloaded my purchases. I'd bought top soil and a watermelon, among other things (those were the heaviest items). I was tired! I put away the cold food items, and tidied the kitchen a bit, and then I reclined with a book, One Thousand Gifts, to take a rest before Shawn arrived home for supper.
Shawn came home, and we ate. Then we headed outside to look over the yard. Strolling out to the back garden, I noticed for the first time that my new hydrangeas, the ones in the lower terrace, the ones with the poofy blue blossoms, were dry, withered, and brown, the blossoms crisped, utterly spent. My heart sank. Those plants had never withered like the fragile upper hydrangeas. It never even crossed my mind to check on them in the heat. But there they were, shriveled. Immediately, I positioned the sprinkler between them, and turned it on low, a small, private shower. Then Shawn and I walked Shubert up to the end of the road to take a look at the sky beyond the cornfield, checking for any hope of rain. Some dramatic clouds shone spectacularly in the bright sunset, but Shawn said none of them looked like they had potential to rain on us.
However, as we headed home, we heard low rumbles of thunder, and as we entered our yard, a few drops of moisture fell on us. We sat down on our front porch, and a gentle downpour began, working its way up to a drenching rain that lasted about ten minutes. We watched neighbors--who had been out walking--scramble to get home, some with dogs on leashes, a family with little girls in their jammies before bed, and a boy on a bike who rode figure eights in the deluge. It rained, silver lines piercing the lawns and bouncing up, misty, from black roads and gray driveways. Then it slowed, and stopped. I felt the smile of God on me, telling me that yes, He hears and answers prayers, because He loves me. The earth smells so good right after a rain, the fresh scent of life, wet dirt, wet plants, even wet asphalt and cement, and (of course) wet sky. We lingered on the porch as long as that aroma hung in the air. When we decided to go in, I remembered to run around to the back and turn the sprinkler off. The hydrangeas were still limp and bedraggled.
I went to bed thinking about my hydrangeas. I wondered if it would help if I cut off the wilted blossoms in the morning; maybe the plants would survive if I took the strain of those lush flowers away.
In the morning, the sun woke me at 6:50, and I stretched and was joyful for how beautiful it is simply to realize that you are awake, and not be awoken by an alarm. I felt the sun on my face, and the cotton sheet, crumpled around my shoulders, and I patted Shawn's big, warm body slumbering next to me, and I remembered the hydrangeas. I got out of bed and headed downstairs, even before Schubert was afoot. From the sun porch, I looked out, and there were my two new, blue hydrangeas, fully re-hydrated, blooming in their terrace. Not only the leaves, but also the blossoms had come back! Again, I felt God's love, so strong, so full of grace. Jon has his wallet, Shawn got to buy him lunch, a soft rain fell, and my hydrangeas are beautiful. God would be good even if He did not do these things, but I am so thankful for when He gives us these tangible, easy to read messages of His grace and presence in our lives.
Friday I just went ahead and watered, after the sad (albeit redeemed) situation on Thursday. I watered in the afternoon, sprinkling and puttering, trimming and weeding, just generally bombing around among my plants. After the water had sufficiently soaked the garden, I turned off the spigot and went inside to write an email.
Sitting at my computer, facing into two corner windows that look out over the northwest view of our treed backyard, I heard a loud crack. Looking up from my work, out the window I saw a large mound of foliage dip, sink and fall to the ground with another shattering crash.
Right on top of my garden.
Yes, a 37-foot tree limb with an 8 or 9-inch diameter spontaneously broke off its tree and landed in my back garden. No storm. No wind. Just a loud crack and the descent of hundreds of pounds of lush green foliage. I was kind of bummed, until I realized how blessed I was to have finished working in the garden and gone inside shortly before it happened. God is good, and it looks like He might have saved my life on Friday afternoon, around 3 p.m.
In the end, Shawn left work early and bought a chainsaw on his way home. In approximately 2.5 hours, he had the whole thing cleaned up.
Today as I look out at my crushed Jacob's Ladder plants, I can only think how grateful I am that the blow that crushed them was not dealt to my body. I did like those plants, but I am thankful to be alive and free from injuries.
God is good.
Last night, after we got the garden cleared, the branches dragged to the roadside, and the wood chopped and stacked, we stood on the sun porch and looked out, up the street that forms the artery of our neighborhood, running west to the main road. It was about 8 p.m., which is when the sun, dipping low, casts a magical glow that literally turns the black road into a radiant golden surface. The evening sunbeams cascaded in shafts between our tree trunks, and a squirrel cavorted in the gleaming light, his feathery gray tail turned as mysteriously golden as the road while he paused, illuminated, and his little chest stood outlined against the dark trees by a bright line of deep yellow. Between the shafts of sunset, fireflies began to pulse, brightening the dark spots of deepening evening with their spiraling slow ons and offs.
We just stood there--watching, breathing, absorbing--thankful for life and light and beauty. Thankful for God.
I lived to see July!