Tonight, I am a “pinhead” and a “tin can” many, many times over. He has spared me the worst of his verbal tirade, but this time the physical nature of his rage shook something inside of me as the shoe that he tried to throw at his brother hit me hard. The boys were mixing it up, and, as is too often how it goes, his anger had no mercy.
It’s usually past dusk when I find my way outside to close the chicken door for the night. I don’t like to force the chickens into the coop too early; I like to wait until they decide that they are ready to move up to their roosts and call it a night. This seems to be a common theme at the farm, that you just can’t will things to happen. Whatever it is, it’s going to unfold when the time has come.
Sometimes, when I look to the northwest at the setting sun, the colors of the sky are so vivid and bold, enchanting fires of orange and red, that I marvel at nature’s artistry. When I turn and walk back toward the house, I am surrounded by soft misty blue, and I wonder how such a dichotomy can exist in this dusk sky.
On this night, though, I missed the sunset. To know that something has happened, that the time has come and gone…and to forever wonder what you have missed: that is part of the boundless beauty of this life. The things we can count on, what we take for granted, will rise and fall with the sun, ever the same, unless they are not.
When Sadie was born in Korea, her orphanage workers called her Chae Young, which, I learned, means “the color of the sky.” When I thought of the sky, I had always envisioned a blue color, but now I see, and I know, that the richness of the color of the sky knows no boundaries and cannot be defined. My girl, you see, has shown me many, many colors: familiar shades of sky blue, but also colors that I did not know existed, and colors that are far more rich and beautiful than ones that I had ever seen before.
Though I have been gardening for twenty-five years, this is my first time growing carrots. I did my research through the winter, and planted the seeds in three rows. I was careful to respect the frost date, and I pushed the tiny seeds into the freshly turned soil, just as directed. When the carrot greens first poked through the soil, I felt very accomplished. I had read that carrots can be tricky to grow.
As they grew, I took care to thin my crop in areas where the carrots seemed to be growing too closely together. My family loves carrots, and soon there would be a great harvest, center stage at the dinner table.
My curiosity got the best of me. While I was picking the last few pods from my dwindling snap peas, I pulled up one of the carrots. Out came something that, according to Elliott, resembled calimari more than a carrot. I had heard that carrots could be tricky to grow…. I pulled two more carrots that day, one more that looked like a squid and one that looked like…a carrot. I mustn’t be very good at growing carrots.
More than once, she has told me that she would rather be anywhere but here. Here she was, though. Here we were. And through the brambles, we were growing. Almost in the way that I turned around and my little boys had grown to men, there was a different presence about her. She had caught me in tears, as the day’s battles had gotten the best of me. She approached me, and something stirred. She stretched her arms around me, and there was something different in her touch: something new. She didn’t say anything, but there wasn’t anything I needed to hear.
It was getting late, and I was finally able to sit down at the kitchen table to gather my thoughts into words. She may or may not have noticed my hands on the keyboard as she approached. She wanted to tell me something. I told her I was working on my writing. She came back again, a few minutes later. It was something about 1/38 timing in percussion and playing cold turkey. I could barely keep my eyes open. I wondered what she was really talking about.
“Well, good night,” she said. “I love you.”
I could not remember a time when she had said those words before. I am not sure it matters if I miss a sunset, or if a day passes and I have not noticed the color of the sky.
I took a bite of that misshapen carrot, and it was crisp, sweet, and as tasty as any blue-ribbon winner at the fair. Tonight, I know that I don’t want to be anywhere…but here.