I stood in my driveway yesterday gazing at the greenery under the deck. I didn’t see buds yet, but the irises and surprise lilies have pushed themselves tall and soon will bloom. The heavy purple and yellow blossoms will reach out over the driveway, daring me to drive past without rolling down the window for a better look.
My maple bears its annual growth of vine. Some call the creeper an insidious invasive species but I enjoy its vibrancy. The maple has nearly regained its umbrella shape, 14 years after being split by an ice storm. Standing in front of it, I remember the great weight of its crown on our old porch and the churning in my stomach as I contemplated how close my car had come to being smashed. Some instinct had prompted me to pull it down the driveway. Our home cringed under an icy blanket and frozen splinters of the maple, but the car sat unscathed at the bottom of the impassable asphalt.
That long ago January receded back into the shadowy corridors of memory as I climbed the three stairs onto the porch, the new porch, the one we had built more than a decade ago. I crick my neck back and study the shiplap and oak trim, wondering if it needs refinishing. The deck beyond the porch never got properly sealed. That’s something I will do this spring; something I will have done, I should say. In a week or two, I will make my annual pilgrimage to Soil Service for potting plants, lining the tables and shelves with the bright purple, red, and orange of pansies, begonias, and impatiens.
Someone recently asked me how long I have lived in Brookside. Twenty-three years, I acknowledged, thinking about my son, a toddler during the move into the house on Holmes Street, Memorial Day weekend 1993. Patrick turns twenty-five this July. A whole life-time with the Holmes house as home-base.
This morning dawned on my tired and aching body. I know that I have grown old, even if my years in chronology don’t suggest old-age. The Stanford neurologist says my state is a decade or so beyond my years, with arthritis and unsteadiness combated only by my diligence — by stretching and adaptive exercise gleaned from Peggy Cappy’s “Yoga for Every Body”. I insist that I will live to be one-hundred and three. I caution those Stanford doctors: I got myself this far, the next four decades are on you. They grin, shake their heads, scribble a few notes about my great attitude, and tell me they will see me in six months.
Spring comes to Brookside after a mild winter. I find myself embracing hope, as I do each year. I remember sitting vigil over my mother’s dying form, in August of 1985. I left her room to get a glass of water and came upon my sister sitting on the schomley in the kitchen. She held my gaze and whispered, We keep saying, ‘this will be our year’, but it never happens. Why is that? Why can’t we have a “year”? I did not know how to answer. I understood the question and its importance to her, but still fell silent.
Now I think I will make “a year” for myself, this year, My Year Without Complaining, twenty-seven months long and counting. I feel new life coursing through my veins, ready to burst forth in beautiful flower despite my aging limbs. It’s coming; I sense it. Watch me. Just watch me!