I just had another birthday. Just another drop in time. Just another reminder of all the things that feel the same, year after year. Like the sweet reunion with Nora after being away for two weeks felt timeless, her scent still smelling like popcorn, her tightly curled ball at the foot of my bed with big grateful eyes beckoning while making gentle groans of contentment,
her complete abandon in front of the fire always evoking a deep deep love in me.
The pot of vegetable soup I made the first day back is the same vegetable soup I made a week before at my parents, the same pot of soup I have been making for decades now. Everything about this soup continues to delight, from the methodical process of chopping and cutting, from the colorful display of ends and peelings of vegetables,
to the assemblage in the pot ready for slow fire, to the bowlful ready to eat, steaming hot soup wilting a bed of fresh greens below.
Birthday greetings found in voicemail from one of my oldest friends took me back over fifty years to a time when we were little girls playing, to grown up girls finding each other again, unbeknownst to each other, at the same architecture graduate school. We never forget each other’s birthdays. Each year we connect adds yet another ring to the very mature tree we share.
The surrounding woods welcomed me back with sounds and sights and smells of home, so familiar now that even the jarring sight of new severed limbs lying on the ground from a recent storm doesn’t change the feeling of where I am. The pond accepts the drops of moisture from the overhanging tree limbs with grace one day.
It registers the glittering flashes of sunlight caught in wind inspired ripples another day.
The pond continues to be this little world of daily wonder that never gets old.
Having a birthday is also an opportunity to celebrate where something has changed and made life a little bit better. This year’s drop in time reverberates with all the ways I have questioned and danced with resisting boundaries. This year, my gift came from Nora. As diligently as she has been trying, her lessons for me have been hard won. She made it clear to me yesterday that she was not able or willing to come out of our woods behind the house and to the door as she had done so obediently months ago. She crossed the road and took off. My reluctance to put the leash on her and lead her safely out of the woods as we do elsewhere has been a curiosity. I keep thinking she should get it, that she should do what I want. That I should be able to train her to resist the temptation.
When we go to the pond, we always enter the woods from the road. Nora is always on leash until we are about ten feet onto the path. Our time in these woods off leash is alway so wonderful. I lead her. She leads me. We co-exist and let each other be free. I love to call to her and watch her run full tilt to me, sit and retrieve her treat. I love to lose sight of her and simply call ‘this way’ and feel the thunder of her racing past me.
This morning as we approached the place on the path where I typically put the leash back on to walk the road back to the house, she actually stopped and looked back at me expectantly. When I called to her, she came without hesitation, waited patiently for me to snap on the leash. This was my gift. The drop in time this year that signaled a change in perception and acceptance of something I had been resisting. I considered that attaching the leash as we exit the woods, any woods, might actually make her feel safe. It might actually be a good thing, not something I need to change or do differently.
Now I am smiling as I think of the past week spent with my brother, together as the advocacy team we formed for my father while he was in the hospital. We weren’t two middle aged people that week, but the same two kids we have always been, him teasing, pulling out all the stops to his vast reservoir of sibling humor to cajole laughter from me. Something I have always resisted too, until recently. I found a photo of us taken forty years ago, preserved in a frame in my parents basement photo gallery. As if to punctuate yet another significant drop in time with a kindred spirit…