back burner things.

Isn’t it a peculiar thing to bury things in the ground, expecting with all expectation for them to burst up and out, beautiful and green? I wanted to wait patiently and live through a spring here before I added my own flowers. In Denver, eight-foot-tall lilac bushes bordered the neighbor. A hedge of purple, almost too heavy-scented to enjoy, crowned the pine oasis in the city. We were pleased, even when later a heavy snow landed and bent the lilac beauties in half.  Following the early lilacs, a rose bush on the south side of our brick ranch house exploded with a thousand crimson blossoms.

Gretty’s garden. I believe she planted little spidery ranunculus corms and tulip and garlic bulbs.

It felt like pure luck. I don’t feel like now I should rely on that sort of thing. (Regarding the ranch home in Denver, the previous owner was a florist and owned a flower nursery. Highly unlikely to hit the lottery twice. Martha, on the other hand–as I’ve been told by her son–regularly stopped her car and dug flowers out of ditches along the highway to replant here at Honey Creek. I will vouch that last year’s marigolds were all seed and barely a petal for a flower–probably years and years and years of reseeding a cruddy seed that did little to beautify the scenery.)

I’ve ignored my better senses and planted everything I could get my hands on. Peonies–right in the middle of the strawberry and pineberry dry roots I put in a spot where I’d hacked down an old bush. Tulips, ranunculus, dahlias, freesia. The dahlia roots are weird and floppy, and I’d never seen a peony root before (it’s a dull hunk with eyes bursting up and down). But if an innocent trip to Sam’s to buy milk turns into an innocent browsing of select perennials–I have a hard time saying ‘no’. There’s just so much free space, and dahlias are supposedly disgusting to the deer who keep nibbling my baby fruit trees. Gretty and I are very much into the preservation of peaches.

This week instead of buying more flowers, I gave in to baseball. We’ve procured gloves and found balls and had a little ballgame last night where Gretel kept score and picked all the baby grape hyacinth lilies. Thanks to tossing a football around every afternoon, Jubal has an arm like a rocket and loves to play catch. Luke is sold on the novelty of wearing cleats and stretchy pants (this is how you sucker a citified tap dancer into suffering humid, bug-filled evenings at the ballpark). FC, allergic to all grasses and weeds and everything above ground, rolls around in fits of joy because he adores just being part of the family (and we administer Claritin and Flonase with renewed vigor).

The arm on the left marked all grasses, weeds, and trees. On the right, molds, cats, dogs, and dust.

Team sports require more stuff-organizing and acquiring than I can normally handle. I’ve been lucky to avoid it until now–not because I intended to, but because life just happened. I have trouble in the mornings tracking down water bottles and back packs and shoes–things that kids should already have managed, but me being such a poor manager probably hasn’t trained them well enough to be independent.
I give myself a lot of grief over these misses, maybe too much. My kid has had seasonal allergies for years and I’m just now getting around to having him tested. Everything is always on the back burner–I don’t think it is out of laziness, just an ever-present inability to prioritize. No one ever praises the absent-minded homemaker. Certain things are just expected.

Luke complicates our mornings because he likes to wake us up by describing things like mobius strips and how they can be cut but never severed, then scrounge around for paper and tape and a pair of scissors to prove it. How am I to instruct such a child to finish a bowl of cereal and put on pants for the 131st day in a row? Shouldn’t a parent pretend to care about mobius strips once in awhile? And if not at breakfast, when? When do we get to move the back burner things to the front?

This week I subbed a few hours of music at the school, pulling out two dozen dusty ukuleles to tune with sixth graders who didn’t know the neck from the strings.
I’m not sure if it was a success or failure, but it was something different than looking up beatboxing on Chrome books, which is what they’ve been doing.
Public school makes me laugh and cry and cheer and groan. I don’t know if I’m ready to throw in the towel or sign up to coach. But I passed my certification to teach, so I suppose I’d better figure it out. I’d rather be writing and gardening, but those are back burner things that ought to stay back burner, right? In the evenings, I’m reading Madeleine L’Engle–which makes me love kids more. I’m also reading Frederick Douglass, which makes me love education.

What a teacher or librarian or parent can do, in working with children, is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I’m concerned, the providing of oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations.
Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet

We are who we are, I guess, but we better not waste time being–but doing–bursting out of the ground and blooming when the sun shines on us.

**Thanks to Megan for the L’Engle book! It’s a ramble of words but choice nuggets abound.

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