As the weather begins to turn and rain begins to fall and the ground softens under my shovel, my thoughts, quite naturally, turn towards renewal. Towards rebirth, life. I leave behind me the shadows and darkness of winter, I crave a new beginning. I want to leave behind the sadness of February and celebrate this new season (quite literally) in my life–one I hope is full of dedication and cleansing and flushing out.
This month has been spent cleaning, reorganizing, re-prioritizing. The garage cleaned out and sorted. Old projects finished. New projects started. The stack of books on my nightstand, the ‘to-read’ pile, is slowly dwindling. The garden, once a fantasy, is consuming my free time and the smell of earth & compost mixes with the basil, oregano, lavender, and sweet mint. The woody rosemary comes out, the onions have gone in. The grow light situation, once a mere idea, fit like a glove right into the place I needed it to, all good things coming together to create the perfect place for germination. A whole tray of tomatoes started.
It is almost time for the clotheslines to be tightened and once again called into service. We pulled the hammock out and set it up again this weekend, although it was blown over in the night, so maybe I didn’t calculate the timing on that quite right. The hydrangeas took root, and all the little yellow-green flowers have blossomed into giant pink globes of beauty. I plant the lilacs across from them–I imagine next spring walking through a corridor of intense color and smell, a welcome welcome to the backyard and my own slice of paradise. The grass alongside the house is thick and lush, so green and lovely I cannot bring myself to mow. Surely, I think, there is a use for it. My mind drifts towards goats.
I bought a duck on Friday. ‘But”, you protest, ‘you already have two!’ Let me tell you a story.
I went to my favorite feed shop for a fifty-pound bag (I cannot bear to buy a smaller bag, even with my flock less than half) and thought perhaps i would simply LOOK to see what breeds of chicks they were selling. ‘I won’t buy any’, I thought. ‘I just want to look’. We all know how that goes–I pulled out the brooder last weekend.
There was a stock tank full of ducklings, some a week or two older, some newly hatched, and i could barely bear the cute. I reminded myself that two ducks was enough, MORE than enough, and ducklings poop more than anything in this world.
Vickie is the sweet lady who helps those of us seeking a touch of adorableness on a Friday afternoon. When I asked her why my 10-month old ducks had yet to lay an egg, she asked me a simple question that confirmed the sneaking & growing suspicion that I had ended up, against all the odds, with two MALES. (In case you aren’t aware, boys do NOT lay eggs. Which is the ENTIRE REASON I have ducks).
‘But’, she says, ‘we do have adult ducks in the back’. Magic. Magic words.
I left with a beautiful, elegant, heavy-breasted, slappy-footed duck, and a dozen duck eggs from the kind warehouse guy. She is so…gentle? Wholesome? She is the girl next door of ducks, and my dumb little drakes have no clue what to make of her, so they run around the pen as she quietly waddles after them, trying to find companionship and a place to belong.
She is helping this place feel new, a reminder that this backyard is not a place of death anymore. Or if it is, rather that it is all part of the Great Story. I am sad about my lost chickens, but I rejoice in the large warm egg that covers my palm (and if you have never held, then eaten, a duck egg, I invite you over to my house for a feast). I remember that it is all only a circle, that renewal always comes.
Feeling all these things, learning and relearning the feeling of the world in cycle and the past repeating itself, reminds me that people have always known this, knew this better than our world knows it today. Humans, pagan and Christian alike, have always celebrated the end of the long winter with feasts, festivals, and rituals of birth, spring, and renewal.
To tap into this new understanding of the meaning of seasons brings a sense of connection, of my humanity, of having a settled place in this world. A place I make plans in and for. The poppies go here, I’ll plant the jasmine there. Once the fence is up, I’ll plant something that vines. A new melon patch dug, and an experimental tomato plot. Should the bougainvillea be dug up, or did any part of it survive those frosts? That room becomes an office to work from home from, the photos need to be put back up on the wall. This hutch isn’t working, so let’s put this thrifted one in it’s place. Remember to empty the compost bucket. Go through the dresser and donate those clothes you REALLY don’t wear anymore. It’s the feeling of emptying and recycling and renewal and shaking off the all the extras you’ve accumulated during the winter when it was too cold to do anything (ten pounds included).