Here I sit, at the kitchen table, fingers numb from too long at the computer.
My fingers didn’t grow numb with cold while doing what it was I set out to do; to break through the resistance and write. Nothing quite so heroic, I’m afraid.
But someone else’s essay, inspired by another’s, inspired me. To just put my fingers to the keyboard – forgive me for the cliche – and describe what it is around me. The cranberry and cinnamon scented red candles, plastic freshly off; pristine and perfect and not at all afraid of being burned.
My fingers grow cold while the wicks burn hot. Me, not at all pristine and terribly imperfect, and yet so afraid of being burned.
Here I sit, at the kitchen table, surrounded by drink cups and forgotten pencils.
Mugs of hot chocolate long since grown cold, waiting to be placed in the microwave and reheated for the second (third? fourth?) time. The mugs of hot chocolate have been at the ready all day as the students move in and out of the kitchen. First to accompany the math – decimals and the metric system, or the adding up polynomials; you pick – and then later the Latin. Robin Hood is too adventurous a read to require hot chocolate; why risk a spill while Robin Hood risks death? He is forever lucky, but you and your chocolate have luck that runs out much sooner. So the cold mugs sit with the pencils. Both at the ready for whomever has need.
Here I sit, at the kitchen table. The sun has set now, but just barely. The shadows it casts are long and the lake still reflects just a hint of pink. In a few minutes it will be dark. Too early, it seems, and yet earlier still until the course reverses itself. The candles are burning now. I am not sure how it’s possible, but their soft glow is felt, even through the harsh overhead light.
This kitchen is leftover from the 1990’s: bright flouresent and humming. I’m not completely unlike it. Leftover from the 90’s and I like to think I’m bright (isn’t that clever?), but I don’t hum.
Here I sit, the next morning, at the same table, essay still unfinished. Someone on the internet posted pictures of their simmering homemade potpourri: cranberries, cinnamon sticks, and oranges. So I strong armed my children into saving their orange peels and then threw them into a pot of water along with a half-used bag of cranberries and a cinnamon stick. The house smells warm and inviting and too cinnamony.
Has this essay simmered too long? Can you smell the cinnamon, too?
I turned the burner off.
Here I sit, later the same morning. It’s unseasonably warm outside and I should be there, outside. I should be in the garden trimming back the bushes, planting the bulbs, a little bit here and a little bit there. The window warmed sun beams into the house trying to convince me that a coatless day beckons. But inertia is a powerful thing to overcome even if it is to enjoy a rare November day out of doors, even to open the door and step into a November sun.
The expectations are great.
Here I sit, later the same day and back from the outside. The inertia was nearly debilitating but I did it. I trimmed the bushes and cleared out a little space. I even planted a few bulbs. Not that you can tell. The earth looks as barren as it did before the tulip bulbs were put in, before the daffodil bulbs were buried, before the narcissus bulbs were covered by dirt. Do you think the narcissus bulbs were offended they were covered in dirt? It seems so unbecoming.
The metaphors are wearing out. I’ve trimmed back, cleared space, and planted flowers.
All that’s left is a bit of tending and time. Mostly time.
I love this. It reminds me of Houselander in “Reed of God”:
“We ought to let everything grown in us, as Christ grew in Mary. And we ought to realize that in everything that does grow quietly in us, Christ grows. We should let the thoughts and words and songs grow slowly and unfold in darkness in us.
“There are things that refuse to be violated by speed, that demand at least their proper time of growth; you can’t, for example, cut out the time you will leave an apple pie in the oven. If you do, you won’t have an apple pie.”
…and I fell off the face of the earth during the month of December. So sorry.
I just started reading Reed of God after I wrote this post and I’m humbled you would even hint at a comparison.