I have at long last, attended another “early service”. Week days do not afford such luxury. There is too much commotion on days like Tuesday, at the rabbit patch. Animals need to go out and then fed-and everybody has somewhere to be. Alarms ring out warnings and coffee is brewing. No matter how early I rise, at some point, it comes down to a commotion.
This morning was a sharp contrast to all of that-at least for me. I am in Elizabeth City, for the first time in three weeks-yes, I have counted the days. The “early service”, I attended this morning, was in Jennys’ backyard. My morning came peacefully, but I witnessed all sorts of frantic activity under the oldest tree in the yard. Some doves were grazing peacefully and did not seem to have a bit of quarrel in them-til the squirrels showed up. The doves took off in great haste crying out in distress. This is the habit of doves-they always are “quiet as church mice” til they take to the air. Many a dove has startled me on my walks by field and wood. The squirrels took no notice but went straight away to the business of the task at hand-gathering nuts and acorns, to hoard up for the barren days of winter. Some robins were curious about the racket and came to join in. It made me wonder if the first frost is not so far away.
Jenny had a late morning appointment and Will took Lyla out, so I put on a pot of chicken and broccoli soup. I busied myself with some light housekeeping and writing, while they were away. The chatter in the back yard had been settled by the time I went out again-and just in time to see a small flock of blackbirds peppering up the sky in a poetic fashion. Thick white clouds filtered the light allowing slight shadows. One day I will have a good camera and capture such moments. I was sorry when the blackbirds left-they are so very lovely. Blackbirds flying trigger a memory for me, that I hope to always remember.
I was much younger then. I had been left alone-stranded, it felt. My young husband had died. I was hurt and very scared. I was also so very disappointed as I had prayed fervently for a miracle. What I wanted seemed best for everybody. I made a meager income, intended to supplement the household. I had five precious children to raise-and one morning, I told God how I felt about it. I was out behind a garden shed, right about this time of year. I pleaded my case and concluded that everything I had hoped for was lost. Surely I would not find any beauty to life again-God had taken from me, I thought . . .just about that time, a very large flock of blackbirds flew overhead. They swirled in to one pattern after another and I stopped complaining as I watched them. I thought how beautiful they were-and suddenly I laughed . I do not worry that the moment may seem insignificant-for me it was not. I never see a flock of blackbirds, that I do not remember that morning, now many years ago, when blackbirds were on the wing.
By noon, all had safely gathered in. The soup was ready and we all thought it was especially good. The thick clouds of the morning parted and sunlight dappled in the little lane beside the house. The patches of sky that the clouds revealed, were a brilliant shade of blue-the shade only seen in October. It was the perfect day for a long walk.
I took Lyla the longest way around the village, before ending up at the river. On the way, we collected yellow leaves and red ones too. We found a confederate jasmine blooming like it was June, and so we picked a few blossoms. We also took a sprig from a cedar tree, because it smelled like Christmas. We came across some elaborate Halloween decorations. Lyla said the ghosts, which were swaying in the light breeze, were spooky. There was a life size witch in one yard and Lyla did not want to tarry near there. Lyla did like the bright jack-o-lanterns with friendly faces that we met on the way.
The river was as blue as I have ever seen it. The sun was almost bright and the clouds were the cumulus kind. They were a stark white and floated lazily above us. Lyla was freed from the confinement of her stroller to run as she pleased on the large grassy lot by the “river that laughs”. She walked on the wide timbers that are used to mark the parking area, for a good while. She has certainly improved on her sense of balance, I noticed. We met a friendly lady with a friendly dog, named “Boo”. He looked like a toy. We walked a short ways together until we reached the home of the friendly lady. Lyla and I walked just a few minutes more and then we were back where we started. We went in and Lyla wasted no time showing off our souvenirs. Lyla told the story of our afternoon as she presented each one to Jenny.
We are all collecting souvenirs, on our journey, I thought. Sometimes they are things like leaves-sometimes they are the smell of hyacinths or wood smoke . . . and sometimes they are things like a sky full of blackbirds.