We shall not cease from exploration;
And at the end of all our exploring,
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
I have been away from my cottage for three months.
During all that time away, I was determined to stay in the present, focus and enjoy wherever I was. I cherished every moment of time with my family and I made it a priority to stay in the present while I was with them. Time slipped through my fingers like so much sand, as time has a way of doing, and suddenly I found myself at the end of a season of helping my family. All that time away from home, I refused to let my thoughts and my heart step into the future, to think about home and I resisted the pull; however, the last several days before I left, my mind and heart wandered towards home.
I thought about the eleventy million things I could do and needed to do when I returned home; but first, I wanted to spend one hour reacquainting myself with my home. One delicious hour free from demands, distractions, unpacking and settling in. I wanted to do lose myself in sixty glorious minutes before I did anything else. I missed an entire season while I was away. That thought stunned me. I needed one hour to catch up. To watch. To focus. To see. To wonder. To sigh. To embrace.
My azalea dressed herself in her finest robes….she has never looked this lovely. It was as though she threw open her arms and said, “Welcome Home!”
I was home one weekend in February when our big old cherry tree exploded in buds and only a few opened up to tease me before I had to leave again. The blossoms are gone now, the last few spent blossoms lay like antique snow onto the ground, the branches now green with new leaves.
I sat on a wooden rocker on my porch the afternoon I returned home and listened to the silence….a sweet rest on the measure of notes written for birdsong. In all that lilting melody and harmony by happy, returning birds, that gentle, silent rest in the middle was most welcome.
A humming bird flew to the feeder for only a moment before dashing off….the sun glancing off his jeweled neck leaving an aquamarine flash in the air. He has forgotten me. It is going to take a bit of time before he feels comfortable once again to sip his food while I sit or work below him.
I gazed at the water that stretched out before me, the sun gluing spangles to the fabric of it while the seagulls stitched wide circles onto the sky.
I walked out to my waking garden. It is postage-stamp size and not big at all. I surveyed the damage the deer did to my lilies. I could see their hoof prints where they carefully stepped around the peonies, bless their hearts. I told the weeds they had better enjoy their last days and plucked out a few to show them I meant business. I flicked the dirt from around the red pencil points of peonies pushing their way up through the ground. It will be a good year for those peonies; the ones I dug up from the garden where we used to live. They love the sunshine here. The promise of peonies….sigh. They will be at their finest in a month or two.
I visited the planter where miniature tete-a-tete daffodils are the prelude for the concert the bigger daffodils will play later in the month. The hyacinths are struggling, but one of them managed to send up a single stem with a few tender pink bells playing on it, a tinkling percussion.
I caught up with the plants on my sun porch, where the hydrangeas are already leafed out and the beginning of small clustered blossoms still hide shyly in the leaves, where strawberries set their green leaves and dainty petals emerged and where one prodigious purple bloomer is already in full bloom and hostess to eager bees.
The rose-scented geranium survived the winter without me trimming it back and new shoots climb the long branches. I am thrilled. The lemon verbena also seemed to somehow survive the winter without a cursory pruning and my failure to move it out of harm’s way. A simple snip here and there and it will hopefully snap back so that I will not need to buy a new one this year. I looked longingly at bare pots waiting for something to go into them. I cannot wait. A peegee hydrangea? A tree peony? A David Austen English rose? I am leaning towards the rose. I miss my roses but I cannot have them in my gardens. The deer love them as much as I do. But on my porch? Hopefully I can have one lovely apricot David Austen rose, an Abraham Darby. Or demurely pink Evelyn? Sigh. Maybe both.
I surveyed the little gardens in front of my house, taking note of the survivors and of the ever-ailing Spanish lavender topiary that did not survive the winter. I exulted over things that were already springing to life and have high hopes for the agapanthus this year and the expanding iris. There are mystery plants that have surprised me and grouped themselves in congregations in my gardens. They have leaves similar to lily leaves and I hope they flower, or I’m excommunicating them…congregations notwithstanding.
The lilac is in bloom….lovely, lilting lilacs so soon. With the early spring we’re having, everything spring has come up, leafed and bloomed nearly a month or two early. My thoughts move to planting deer-resistant summer perennials.
I missed my gardens and this room most of all. My studio calls to me every bit as loudly as do my gardens. There is promise in this room. I hope to really create here this year. To dare. My heart yearns to be here and to make use of the tools and materials I have secreted away. And to write with abandon.
The timer went off on my phone. One hour. Whoosh. I had no sense of minutes or of time at all. I was lost in seeing and discovering, in thinking deeply and in focusing, which led to a deeper, purer clarity of the present and the shadows of wishes that stepped gently into my future. I was invigorated, blissful, glad to be home and utterly content. You could have heard me purr.
I wonder why it is that we don’t take the time to have one singular hour for ourselves, 60 minutes out of the 1,440 minutes in a day. Sixty minutes where we focus, where we clarify, where we learn, where we wonder and discover, where we think deeply and allow our mind and our senses and our heart to catch up to each other. Sixty minutes to simply wish. Sixty perfect uncluttered minutes would do wonders to let us de-stress, to let anxiety and worry slip out of our lives, to allow us get in touch with the self that all too often is overextended seeing to the needs of everyone else, a self that is spread far too thinly at times or a self that has disappeared. An hour to develop a talent, an hour to focus on our thoughts and hopes and dreams and wishes. An hour to take a walk or a drive somewhere beautiful. An hour to breathe and to be.
Would you take a challenge? Would you find 60 minutes a day for yourself and your thoughts? It may mean getting up an hour earlier, which is what I suggest as your mind is rested, open and read. Dedicating this time will stabilize your day. Or find an hour later in the evening, or anytime during your day…just seek that one solitary hour. I would love to hear how setting this time aside affected your lives, what you taught yourself and what you learned or what you experienced during that time.
I once read a quote by Henry David Thoreau, who was the master of leaving the clamor and demands of the world behind him and discovering a world he created for himself: “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” I read that quote years and years ago. It haunts me sometimes. Time is so valuable and yet we say, “I have an hour to kill so I will….” Don’t kill time….feed it, nourish it, care for it and make good use of it. Especially those 60 sacred minutes you make for yourself.