By this point in life, I understand that mostly small things consume us with frustration or delight. As Cliff says, “It’s all about choices.” We decide how our focus lands.
So in our house built in 1859, we face more decisions than we can shake a stick at. Tuckpointing, landscaping, painting, shutter hanging, and finding more sandstone held our attention all year. I now know that golden sandstone originates in our area. Blue-gray spotted sandstone is quarried 12 miles away. When I walk our dog Maria through our town’s architecturally featured sandstone, I wonder over the geologic artistry and tension constantly beneath us. How does nature decide?
Maggie, now a college senior, juggles her own tremendous tensions. Along with her courses, she faces a year-long Independent Study program. Because of her interest in criminal justice reform, she’s researching TV police dramas, calculating the representation of women and People of Color in the main cast, victims, and perpetrators. She tracks positive and negative portrayals and presents her findings in the spring. As I puzzled over her study choice, I had an oops moment. At bedtime when she was a baby, the only song Cliff and I both knew was Long Black Veil:
Ten years ago, on a cold, dark night
There was someone killed ‘neath the town hall light.
There were few at the scene, but they all agreed
That the man who ran looked a lot like me.
Surely a baby couldn’t understand innocence or judicial systems. But my mother always insisted it was an odd lullaby. At any rate, however she came by it, Maggie is devoted to a service profession. She can’t right every wrong, but she’ll get close.
Cliff continues to drive for Meals on Wheels and balances that with his travels and garden duty. In New Mexico and Colorado, he played ground crew to a Tulsa friend who skis, and he experienced a lifelong dog-sledding dream. He raced across the snow beneath the West’s expansive blue sky. This autumn, he and a childhood friend traveled the Great Lakes on scenic byways. On the home front, he expanded his garden with carrots and eagerly anticipates harvesting his first asparagus in the spring. One morning as he read on the porch, he looked up to see Percival (the peacock I mentioned in last year’s review who curiously showed up in our town) staring at him. Eventually the bird lunched on Cliff’s okra, convincing us the bird has Southern tastes, so Cliff might add black-eyed peas to his crops.
Percival often surprises me as I walk the dog. We’ll encounter him peering at us from behind a tree. Sometimes he walks with us for a bit. Our neighbor called one morning to report Percy was at our gate. When the bird started to cross the street, I stepped out beside him, knowing traffic might see me before him. The town wasn’t going to lose him on my watch. Percy hesitated. Did he recognize me without Maria? I don’t know what a bird thinks, but we walked together to the other side. The whole town looks out for him, not that any of us ever expected to be peacock whisperers.
But we are. In a way.
Sometimes I forget about him, only to discover one of his beautiful feathers in my path. I only knew about glorious peacock tail feathers, but now I see they are all beautiful–brown stripes, cottony gray fluff, tiny blues and greens–iridescent magic drifting across our sandstone sidewalks to my delight.
And I carry them home, these tokens from a peacock who chose our neighborhood.
I hope you discover something wild and blue this year. Don’t frustrate yourself with questions. It won’t matter that you can’t explain it.
Let it delight you.
Believe that it chose you.