Sipping iced tea with a healthy dose of lemon juice, I tip back my head and let my eyelids drift shut. Morning sun pools along the edge of the patio where a pair of doves go through their morning ritual of fluffing and exploring the yard as though they’ve only just arrived. Maybe they are going through a safety checklist… looking to make sure there are no hungry cats, no crazy children lurking, and that their favorite roosts are undisturbed. It’s a routine that generally takes them about an hour to complete. Of course, I am not certain it’s the same pair of doves, but I like to think it is.
The neighbors’ children are out already in a couple of yards edging my own. We have no alley to separate us, so we are joined around a patchwork quilt of fences: four yards bordering mine. The children are laughing and at times shrieking but those are giggling screams so they don’t annoy me in the least. In fact, they stir my own memories of childhood, long past.
I drift through fragments of those days, like dreams. My brothers and I riding the flexi-flyer down the hill. Or our bikes, early on a Saturday morning. Making intricate mud cookies. Writing notes to the elves who lived in the tree behind the house, but disguised themselves as ants during the day. I had convinced my younger brother that this was the case, and spent an inordinate amount of time creating new ways to provide evidence. There were notes to him, tiny articles of clothing, trails, and sometimes tiny snacks. Life was good. For the most part.
Sitting here, with the sunlight bringing just the right touch of warmth to the cool morning air, I listen to the gentle chuckles of a neighbor’s hens. They are greeting the day, probably checking out the yard for breakfast. I find them oddly comforting and domestic. Somehow, their gossip reminds me of the mornings in Nigeria and the stillness of mornings there.
The world here wakes up in layers. And I love those levels of awareness. I allow things into my consciousness as I choose. I can ignore the things that nag me into sullen action and balance those with the joys that also fringe my life.
My grandson is in the other room, playing some game I probably would thoroughly understand even if he took the thirteen hours I know he would devote to the challenge of explaining it all to me. It is enough that he is there, in the kitchen at our round oak table, on a laptop where I can hear the conversation of the game and the squeaks of his chair.
I have donut dough rising in the kitchen. It’s been years since I attempted making them, but with the air fryer, almost nothing is too daunting for my unending culinary quests. I worried that the yeast, which according to the packet’s label expired two years ago, would be nonfunctional. But on cue, when I added it to the perfectly warmed milk, with a little sugar, it frothed up in perfection, waiting to be fed the coming flour, egg, and butter.
It’s rising in a crystal bowl. Covered with a plain white tea towel. I know. It’s a bit… incongruous to have dough rising in a crystal bowl. But life is for enjoying what we have. I used to save the crystal for those extra special moments: fine wine, in-laws, special events. Then the earthquake of ‘83 destroyed most of the crystal my great grandmother had brought to America, and all of the fine bone china tea cups I had set aside for those special days.
My spouse used a shovel to clean out the kitchen following the quake. Fortunately, I wasn’t here to weep over every broken memory. I had gathered up my baby chicks (Marcy and Michael) and fled to San Diego and my parents’ home for a few days to settle my fears and clutch my babies in safety.
So when I returned, all the debris was gone. But so was the china and crystal. The local drug store, Thrifty’s at the time, ran a special on china. A Twenty-four piece set was only $20. Bang. Got it. And I used it, A lot. And as I gathered more crystal along the way to replace what I had lost, I decided to use it all the time. Every day is special. And celebrating each day as it blossoms is now a habit.
So my dough rises in its crystal nest. And I sip my tea. And even though there are times and moments scheduled for a pleasant day, we really never know just what the hours will bring.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:25-34 NIV