I awakened before the sun peered above the earth. The fragrance drifting through the windows of the pink bedroom, here at Carnie’s Honker Springs Farm, evokes a memory of days in other country settings — the musky smell of rich earth, the scent of grasses, an underlying pungency of living creatures and machinery oil. I lay in bed, no longer sleeping, as dawn sends tendrils of light over the trees, kissing the morning mist hovering over the ground. Birds call to one another, the first to rise, the first to shake from their dreams and lift into the air while other sentient beings still linger in the hollows where they have burrowed for the night.
In my own snug bed, beneath the handmade quilt and the soft extra blanket which I knew I would need, I briefly close my eyes and let the coolness of the air drifting in the window touch my cheeks. Ellen Carnie’s farm has calmed me, as has her enfolding embrace, and the grubby little hand of Owen, her two-year-old grandson, and the charming smile of Elizabeth, her seven-year-old granddaughter.
Now I have risen, and groped for the coffee beans which I brought from the city. Though I’ve not found the switch for the kitchen light, I’m managed to make coffee, and let the dog out, and stand on the back deck with my new digital camera and snap a few shots of the low-lying fog. My efforts will not do justice to the scene before which I stand, in my blue cotton nightgown and my bare feet. The sense of what I see does not translate to the image, for the spirit of the land cannot be captured.
Today I am grateful for the kindnesses that others have shown me, starting with Ellen and working backwards, through this year, through the years which fall around my ankles like tattered silk from an ancient robe. The computer on which I write came from my husband, a kindness when its predecessor met an unfortunate fate. The camera with which I tried in vain to secure an image of this farm’s beauty was given to me by my father-in-law. The bottle of wine that Ellen and Jerry and I shared last evening had been brought to my home as a hostess gift by my friend Pat. And these are just a few material kindnesses that I can name, casting my eyes about, without stirring from my spot on Ellen’s couch, here in the misty morning.
The listening ears on the other end of the phone, when I am weary, have meant so much to me. The neighbor who walked our block, calling for my lost dog; my friend Paula, who brought her toddler grandson to give me Brodey kisses one gloomy Sunday morning; other friends, who sit for countless hours over coffee or tea, sharing their stories, hearing mine. I’ve a lifetime of kindnesses to recall, smiles and gestures, great and small, which formed the stepping stones that took me over treacherous waters. If I sat and wrote for hour after hour, until this day ended and another followed, I could not recall every time when someone came to my rescue, or shared my overflowing joy, or took me in their arms while I sobbed.
I have always known that angels exist, and I have always understood that some of them come to us in a spiritual form while others arrive with human sturdiness. Today, which I have, by virtue of forgetting exactly when I started this gratitude journal, christened day 8, I am thankful for angels. For each angel, and for the existence of angels. Without the angels in my life, I would not have made it to this day, 17 August 2014. And briefly, please, indulge me, while I single out one angel for particular thanks: my mother-in-law, Joanna Mitchell MacLaughlin, who has gone from being an angel here on earth to take her place with the heavenly hosts.
From the farm, I thank you all: Each and every one of the angels who have enriched my life.
The view from the deck at Carnie’s Honker Springs Farm. This photo does not show its beauty well enough, but I offer it as the best that I could do.