Monday, May 22, 2017

Tomato Plant Sale

"Hey, you have a customer, Jack," I say.

"Oh, okay." The slow smile of a farmer, all freckles and deep dimples, Jack strides, slow gate and straight back, toward a man in sunglasses, two kids slack at his elbow. A nod. "Right this way," he says.

He points to a flagstone path alongside the greenhouse belly and hops along each stone, the dad and kids two steps behind. I watch through the plastic panel as he points to a rack of cherry tomatoes, a rack of slicers, and a long table of sauce and canning tomatoes. He hands the man a homemade catalogue and settles in. Unhurried, content, I watch advice and instruction mime through the plastic panel.

A box of fresh tomato seedlings in one arm, the man and two kids come out to pay. Lucy and my nephew make change and visit, shade the sun from their eyes, and nod in time with conversation. Then the man and his kids stroll off.

"You guys are doing a great job," I say. "There's only one thing I think you could do better. Wanna know what it is?"

"Sure," one of my five member staff says.

"Just make sure you take the time to look at your customer's eyes," I say.

"Oh," one says. The others nod.

"Ya wanna know why?"


"Because looking at each other is how we exchange emotion. It's how you show you care and you're glad they came."

"Oh," they say. They nod, practice being reserved, professional. But they do. They stop to look at the people, look full in the face, speak affection right alongside the plants.


6267. Dear, dear friends invite our whole huge family for dinner. The most heavenly pasta and nourishing conversation unfold like carnival rides but the kind that money can't buy and planning can't ensure. We leave full and blessed.

6268. We wield the family plant sale all together, each contributing and taking up slack where needed. It flows far easier and more natural than I would ever have expected as if deep reservoirs of affection, levity, and endurance had been waiting there all along.

6289. I forget to plunge the toilet after one of the children flushes a toilet paper roll. A kind plant sale customer discovers the problem and helps clear it up.

6269. Warm, summer-hot sun finally breaks into our spring.

6270. We find great joy, those hours in the greenhouse, the time with friends, the fresh seedlings passed between us, as if health and affection could be distilled down to the newborn green leaves we pass to them.

6271. We celebrate belated birthdays for Craig and other family members. We circle the table and speak life and encouragement to each other.

6272. Jack and Jane make me rosemary whole wheat rolls.

6273. I breathe a long sigh, long enough to encircle the whole day, this whole last season, so frenzied and scheduled. The all powerful arm of Christ has been guiding us, holding certainty, invisible, along our path.

6274. Trust. I trust Jesus more. The invisible garment of love.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


"I don't really mind that it's 7:32," Lucy says. The night before her birthday, we sit in the fading light, pajamas on, teeth brushed, the feeling of almost-nine-years-old there thick between each molecule of air.

"Hmm," I say.

"It does mean that I CAN get up at 5:32, if I want to," she says.

"Hmm," I say.

Every year we wake the birthday child with singing. Happy Birthday to you... Except. Lucy gets up at 5:32, well, when she heads to bed at 7:32 she does.

"I have a lot of books on my bed," she says, "I might just get up and read until 6:30, or whenever..." She trails off, a half shrug, soft affection toward the one of us that isn't a morning person.

"Hmm," I say. "Sounds good."

But the good, the best part, is how she snuggles under my arm, leans into my torso, and closes her eyes. An exchange of warmth, a stilling of the whole room, it's better than a birthday. The mingling of our two worlds settles until we're breathing the same cadence. She does this, brings stillness to all she touches, a gentle lulling of peace.


6261. Spices, a fresh restocking of kitchen spices.

6262. A huge stock pot full of soup.

6263. Time at the park with a friend and our children.

6264. The kids continue to prepare for next Saturday's plant sale.

6265.  Lucy turns nine.

6266. The children all turn another week older. We bear with each other's flaws, ask forgiveness when we mess us, and carry on as ones who carry each other's burdens.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Almost Home

"So what can I pray for for you?" I say. The glow of two miles flushed on our faces, Jane and I make the turn onto our street.

"Well," she says, "kind and gentle, to be kind and gentle."

"Me too," I say. "Jesus," I pray right there, eyes open, the gentle cadence of our steps marking witness to our words, "I pray that you would do this thing inside of Jane and inside of me. Please grow up this fruit of your Spirit inside of us. Please help us to be gentle and kind."

The steps mark out a lull there between us, a gentle meter to hold our words, netlike, invisible, as comforting as a heartbeat.

"Yes, Jesus," she finally says. "I pray you help me to be gentle and kind and not be like: You were mean to me so SMACK on-the-side-of-the-head, I'm gonna be mean to you because you must LIKE it. I'll show you what it's like. Help me not to do that. Help me to be gentle and to be kind. I love you, Jesus. Amen."

"Amen," I say.

We walk up the steep, steep driveway, let the slackening pace carry us, coast us home. We slide in. My arms encircle her almost-woman-self.

"Love you," I say. A kiss planted on the top of her head, I memorize this slow and conscious turning toward each other, the miraculous wings of independence fluttering there behind her.


6251. A dear friend surprises me with a box of the most lovely, resplendent, hand-me-downs. It's such a big box, I can't believe she mailed it. Joe splits his face in half with a smile.

6252. Dear sisters-in-law continue reach open arms to me, bless me with their children, and their love.

6253. Yarn, brown sweater yarn finds its way to our home.

6254. I exchange texts with a soul sister until we can meet up for reals and compare notes on the world.

6255. My small group of 16 years has a mini-reunion.

6256. My mom and I exchange writing, Buoyed along on words and images, meter and lyric, we compare our measurements of the long, long circle of the horizon. We smooth out renderings of life and pass them back and forth.

6257. Myra turns 7. The miracle of 7 unfolds there before our eyes all red hair and easy smile. I pull up a dusty seven year old inside of me, shake her off, and try her on for size. Yup, still carefree and light-footed. Makes for a lovely date with Myra.

6258. Summer comes racing in, hot enough to pinken cheeks, and fill the greenhouse with life-giving humidity. It's been long in coming. I just want to sit super still and soak it all up.

6259. I feel the anticipation of my children taking flight over the next decade. There before me, I set my heart to this new way of being, this careful opening of my hands to let the children become adults. Terrifying and exhilarating.

6260. I count the continual presence of Craig next to me a great joy and comfort.