I’ve come full circle, tilting a bit more than usual, limping even, for such a long, wide circle it has been, this circle of my life, my career, my marriage, my home. It’s not over yet. Although there is death, and death is all around, the circle is not closed, not ever. But, I’ve retired from being a church pastor, I’ve turned 65 years old, we’re celebrating a wedding anniversary on the same day of the week as our wedding day 39 years ago, and for the very first time in our lives being co-owners of a house together with our daughter’s caregiver. We continue to try and keep ourselves and Temma safe from the pandemic while fires of protest and of forest rage on. All of this in the past couple months of the year 2020.
It’s a tilting of me and my world. I know that I’ve always tilted forward some, my shoulders slouched forward and my dad’s words echoing in my head, “Stand up straight.” “Sit up straight.” “You’re slouching.” No, it’s not that tilt I’m writing about. I’m writing about my tilt sideways or even backward. I can feel it when I’m out walking. When I look up from watching my feet on the sidewalk ahead. I tilt.
One of the other things my dad would say to me, “Sherrie, Sherrie, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” My answer now, to him who is beyond the grave, “My garden grows at a tilt, like a terrace farmer growing a crop on the side of a large hill; like the tilt of a head to hear something or ask a question, or a tilt of my body in order to dodge something coming at me.”
It’s an acquired tilt. At one time my garden grew quite flat. The rows of corn and green beans neatly spaced out, growing straight and upright. But there have been upheavals in the earth. Cracks in the foundations of my world, great hills have appeared in my inherited landscape. There have been obstacles that I’ve not wanted to mow down. I’ve grown crooked, at a slight tilt.
Here, at 2020, Saturday, September 5, 39 years after September 5, 1981, I’ve come full circle, at a tilt. An image appears in my mind, myself at year one, in our first married life apartment on Hollister Street. I’m sitting in our garage-sale chair, staring out the front window, notebook journal in my lap, eyes on the leaves of the tree just beyond the front porch. Just married. With no idea of what is to come. Content to let the world go by. In straight rows, on flat ground.
To now…September 5, 2020. I sit on the couch in our home, looking out on the back patio and to the neighbor’s trees just beyond, my notebook iPad in my lap. The two very tall and worn trees growing side-by-side were drastically trimmed shortly after we moved here. I felt those limbs being cut as if they were my own. Years of growth cut away, let go of. The trimming needed to happen. There was danger of limbs falling on rooftops. But it was sad to watch. Strange, to look out and so clearly see the sky over the neighbor’s garage. The leaves of the trees are beyond my sight-line now. I know they are there. I know the trees are okay without the trimmed limbs, but the wounds are real. Borne proudly. Rings of bare wood. I see only their trunks now. One is growing at a strong tilt; leaning in, to listen; growing and waiting here for a very long time. On the slope of a small hill. Our own yard slopes down to meet it at the fence.
I live here with these trees now, my own wounds laid bare, and borne proudly. Another anniversary, another ring of life etched deep inside. The slopes meeting in the gully, at the roots of the trees. Here is a good place to rest. Happy Anniversary, my love.