the weight of sunshine

Two ‘Miragreen’ garden peas in the bottom of their planting hole.

Wednesday morning, as I washed my kitchen windows, I felt the warmth of the sun on my left shoulder.  It was not that anemic light I’ve grown accustomed to over the winter months, but the rays had persistence and strength — even weight, as if the sun were laying a gentle hand on me.  But of course, this particular hand has an incomparable touch, comprised of equal parts youth, generosity, new love, and giddy delight.

Later that afternoon when my sister had joined me, she suddenly stood up from where she’d been bent over sprinkling pea inoculant down a freshly prepared row.  Her brow was furrowed as though she were thinking Big Thoughts.

“What?” I said, seeing the look.  I continued to hoe up stubborn winter weeds that had taken hold in the nearby pathway.

“The sun,” she said slowly, and paused, squinting up at the sky.

“I know,” I said immediately, excited that someone else had noticed it, felt its subtle weight.

But that wasn’t what she’d noticed.  Not exactly.

“It’s yellow,” she said.  “The winter white is fading out of it.”

I had to smile.  My sister, the visual artist, had noticed the fine seasonal gradations of the sunlight’s color, whereas I was focused on the feeling of it striking my skin.  There is nothing new about this pattern at all.  We may have been playing the same variations on a theme since childhood, actually.

Still, it was good to get confirmation that the change was real, not just wishful thinking on my part.

But just in case we got any ideas that this newborn, slightly more golden sunlight was here to stay, two reminders of its inconstancy arrived in quick succession.  One came in the person of our friendly UPS delivery man walking around the side of the house to find us (voices carry in our little, secluded hollow).  When he saw my sister kneeling in the mulch and me up to my wrists in dirt, he laughed and said that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be so easily “tricked” into believing spring was here.

What he didn’t realize, however, is that I am ready and willing to be misled if it will result in another glorious day like that so early in the growing season.

And the other began yesterday evening and is continuing this morning:  flash-flood inducing rains.

Remember how a river ran through it?  The river is back in full force, its rippling current carrying away the soil, compost, and four inches of heavy mulch that I’d put down to try and hold the land in place, sweeping away even F.’s careful attempt at a retaining wall at the lower end.

Garlic bulbs lie exposed on the surface of the bed, stark white dots on the banks of the ever-widening stream seen clearly from the newly-cleaned kitchen window.  And I’d just said on our sunny day out how proud of them I was, how quickly they’d recovered from their trauma and put out new green shoots.

Sigh.  I do feel in need of a sunny pat on the shoulder when I see the ongoing destruction, part deux.

10 Responses to “the weight of sunshine”

  1. I can empathize with your plight. The rains here were awful last night. I just went out to run an errand, and there’s a giant front loader with three dump trucks on the road that leads up here, as a chunk of the mountain was washed across the road last night. There are all sorts of springs popping up here again too, with MORE rain forecast today and tomorrow. We’ve really reached saturation. I’m half afraid if we put the young fruit trees in the ground now, they’ll drown! Hang in there…spring, and more sunny pats on the back, should arrive soon!

    • A washed-out mountain really puts my sufferings in perspective. Thanks for the reminder. And we’re in solidarity as far as the continuing rains… no halt or pause is forecast here in the next two days!

  2. Dear Meredith, I feel your writing in this posting to be exceedingly atmospheric and the picture you ‘paint’ of the two of you at work in the garden is very real indeed. I particularly enjoyed the way in which you noticed and described the deepening yellow of the sun.

    The arrival of the rains came as a great shock to me as the reader, so I can only too well imagine your disappointment and frustration at a good day’s work undone. But, the day WAS good, and there is always tomorrow [a sentiment I am sure well supported by your philosophy of life].

    Thank you so much for ‘favouring’ me and for writing such a thoughtful comment on my posting to which I have replied.

    • “Atmospheric.” I like that. You have such a way with words, Edith. 🙂

      And I think I’d better toughen up and accept that heavy rains are part of a healthy spring picture. Now if we can only solve our drainage problem, we’ll be set!

  3. Sorry to hear about your ‘false start’ to the season, but it sounds like you had a lovely day never-the-less!

    • Sheila, I’m not sure it qualifies as a false start, since this season is all about rapid-fire changes and being on your toes. Kind of exciting. 🙂 And yes, we had a lovely, lovely day!

  4. Yes, a gripping tale. I’m usually hopelessly early in pronouncing the arrival of Spring, disappointment is a hazard of being an optimist, though. I look forward to following your progress.

  5. aloha merideth,

    your planting was a disappointment, i’m so sorry, but really your writing is blossoming…so beautiful and descriptive!

    i loved reading your daily trials….

  6. I love that feeling when you will the sun. Hope you understand what im saying 😀

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