Article ID: 13407
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,818
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Posted: November 1st. 2009
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Some people may think it’s strange but nature speaks to me. I have always thought that I have come from the earth and not from my parents. I never knew my father, I never felt like I came from my mother and I knew that even my beloved Granny was not my mother.
As a child I was one with the earth and followed its urgings without thought or consciousness. Running out the front door in the morning I would hear Granny yell from the kitchen, “Put your shoes on.”
Her voice would trail off as my bare feet hit the cool ground and the soft grass between my toes gave the comforting sensation of stepping into a warm bath. My only thought was, “Ahhhh.”
Nature was my playground. My childhood friend Myra, and I would spend every day outside, carefree like two dragon flies flitting in and out of the woods, to the creek, to our neighbor’s mulberry tree. High up, hugging the branches we would hang for hours competing with the birds for the ripe berries that stained our lips and fingers a dark purple.
Nature was my refuge. When the inevitable childhood disappointments stung I would run to the woods across Goddard road. After crossing the busy road with cars roaring by I would enter the quiet woods and all fell silent except the sound of my sobs and the swishing and crunching of dry weeds under my feet.
I would go straight to my spot and throw myself down on a bare patch under a small tree surrounded by thick brush. There I would cry out my misery and vow to run away and live under this tree and in these woods forever. I would grasp at the dirt and pull at the weeds, hold them and smell their dry woody fragrance mixed with the clean smell of dirt on my hands and it soothed me. Once calm, I would lie on my back and look up into the branches of the tree that spread over me and feel its embrace. I heard in nature’s firm and unyielding voice,
“You need to go home now. Your place is there not here.” I knew and I obeyed.
Nature is my sanctuary. It calms me, it advises me and I draw strength from it. There is no particular place in nature where I need to be. It is anywhere there is a patch of grass, a gust of wind winding its way around the skyscrapers of a concrete city or a fly that is your only companion in a lonely room.
Sitting at my work desk I stared at the computer screen trying to focus on the list of unread messages sitting in the inbox.
“Ok.” I thought to myself, “Let’s try and start with the Ad Age article for an update on ad spending this year. It’s low key, non committal reading and maybe it will jump start my brain into focus mode.”
As I began to read, “ Ad spending is down for the third quarter in a row… ”, my thoughts begin to wander and I replay in my mind again the latest incident with my son Jim.
“Stop!” I say to myself. “Ok, ” looking at the next email, “What does John, publisher of Hollywood Life, want?”
“Diane, the check is in the mail…”
“Why did Jim have to sent that text message, “@#! and you Donna.” to his friend Don’s mother?
“Ugh, ” my stomach dropped and I started rubbing my forehead.
“He’s so hateful, it’s so embarrassing and what am I going to do with him.” I moaned to myself.
And then I thought of the text he sent to Don, “Nextime I C U Im gona kick your #@$.”
Don couldn’t help it if his mom confiscated his cell phone while he was sleeping and uncovered their plan of sneaking out that night.
“found spare keys to the Chrysler and we can have fun like the other night”
“If you have some mony get some nugz.”
I confiscated the keys from Jim. Don’s mom decided to call the police to make a report on Jim’s threat to Don. I agreed because Jim had just been kicked out of the third support program we had placed him in for fighting. The police called Jim on his cell phone and told him if anything happen to Don or his family or their property he would inform the judge presiding over Jim’s recent retail theft case.
Jim’s response to this was a scathing text message to me.
“I cant believe ur favoring dons mom over ur own son. Ur sucha great mom. Most moms want success for their kids but ur different. Al u want is failure for me.”
“You create your own failure.” I replied.
“Psh and thats y u cal the police on ur own son, ur not even a mother 2 me anymore im just done with u after that. U mean nothing to me.”
“Ok.” I replied.
Staring blankly at the computer screen I felt the ever present ache in my heart and wondered. “Was that the right thing to say? What was there to say after two years of battling his delinquent behavior?”
There are no more lectures to be given; apologies have no meaning anymore. He quit school. We give him no money or use of the cars and the only thing he does have is his job at Dunkin Donuts and an old dilapidated cell phone. I continue to drive him to work to keep him busy and to earn some money.
I am startled out of my thoughts by the high pitched beep of my cell phone; a text from Jim, “I need to leave for work now.”
“Ugh.” I thought another drive in the car, just the two of us draped in oppressive silence.
In the car we both immediately open the windows -- not only to let the heat out but also to expand the close space -- to create a sense of distance between us. I put my sunglasses on to block the glaring rays of the sun and to conceal my perturbed expression.
The sounds of cars whooshing by and the clanging noises of road construction helped to break the silence. I inhaled the warm breeze passing around my face and felt its energy. It reminded me to breath deep and exhale my troubled thoughts to be carried away with the next passing gust.
Looking forward down the street a giant orange and white striped “road closed” blockade came into view. It directed us to an alternative route that would take us around the north side of Orchard Lake.
“Great” I thought, this adds a couple more miles to an already interminable trip.
After dropping Jim off at Dunkin Donuts I breathed a sigh of relief and wondered, “How long can this go on? It’s been eight days of silence. I have nothing to say to him. ”
The weight of the situation was smothering me and the thought of going back to work was more than I could take. As I rounded the corner Orchard Lake came into view and I decided to stop and take a few moments to unwind away from my home office and any other familiar surroundings. I turned down a side road that would take me to a small parking area near the lake.
I got out of the car, walked up to the edge of the lake watching my footing on the short steep grassy incline that ended at the water. I leaned my shoulder against the trunk of a huge oak tree growing close to the shore and exhaled a sigh of relief as I looked out over the lake.
No ringing telephones, no emails or urgent issues to solve. I looked down at the edge of the water. There I noticed a school of tiny minnows swimming close to shore in the clear shallow water above the rippled yellow sand. Next to me there were a couple of busy bumblebees working in and out of the Queen Ann’s lace jutting out over the water. My mind went blank and then I heard it,
“Sit down, ” the tree said over my shoulder.
Making the tsk sound followed by a sigh, ”I don’t want to get my pants dirty.”
“Sit down!” it forcefully replied.
Making a frown I moved around to the front of the tree, took off my sandals and placed them on the ground next to the tree. My movement cast a shadow on the water and the minnows scattered quickly darting in tandem this way and that. As I sat down on my sandals the bumblebees working in the Queen Ann’s lace moved farther down the beach to a bunch of purple wild asters.
I sat with my back against the tree, my knees up to my chin and my bare feet on the ground. I looked down at my tanned feet and toes with the clear pearlescent nail polish blending with the sandy gravel and sparse grass growing there. It felt warm so I wiggled my toes and buried them closer into the earth. As I felt the surge of the earth’s energy connect with my feet they seemed to become one with the soil like the nearby roots of the oak tree.
“Ahhh, ” the sensation of comfort washed over me.
I took in a deep breath, turning my face up to soak in the bright, warm sunlight. I exhaled, releasing my despair out over the vast open expanse of the lake, the only space large enough to contain it.
Staring out over the mirrored grey water under a clear blue sky a speed boat with a lone skier in tow appeared silently coming around the side of Apple Island cutting across and disappearing around the other side, too far away to hear.
I looked back down to my feet and saw a tiny reddish brown ant crawling across down in between my toes. The yellow and black striped bumblebees had returned to the Queen’s Ann’s lace working in and out around the white doily like blooms. The minnows resumed their lazy meandering position near the shore. Despite my intrusion they were going back about their business and all was well again in their world.
The waves from the speed boat had made their way to shore lapping softly at first one after the other whispering the sound of, “Go.”
I had become comfortable in my melancholy and didn’t want to go.
Then the secondary larger waves hit the shore and demanded,
“Go about your business!”
“Ok.” I said and reluctantly got up.
I picked up the shards of broken glass and a stray candy wrapper lying there and put them in the garbage can nearby. Taking one last look out over the lake I thanked it for its beauty and solace and returned to work feeling revitalized and more focused.
A couple hours later I got a text from Jim to pick him up. The usual ritual prevailed, oppressive silence and open windows in the car as we were driving home. Then a young man on a small motorcycle quickly, with a roar, pulled out on to the road in front of us and took off fast doing a wheelie.
In knee jerk reaction, I pointed to it and said, “Those are the kind of dangerous street stunts I was telling you about last month!”
“I know, ” came Jim’s monotone reply.
The silence returned but I knew it was our first step toward getting back to business.
Location: Farmington, Michigan
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